by Azeez Adeniyi
Former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Chief Olu Falae has said former military dictator, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida (retd.), offered to hand over power to him as the head of the Interim National Government.
He said this while reacting to a comment by a former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Ishaya Bamaiyi (retd.), in his new book, “Vindication of a General.”
Bamaiyi had said he was detained for years because he opposed Obasanjo’s candidacy and supported Falae.
Bamaiyi in his book said he had supported Falae when he discovered that those who annulled the June 12, 1993 election wanted to “arrange” a president for the South-West.
“I decided to take Chief Olu Falae to Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar and only Abubakar and I discussed this issue. I do not regret that action because I was and I am convinced Falae would have done better as president of our great country. I am glad those behind Obasanjo knew (sic) better,” he said on page 120 of the book.
Falae while reacting said Babangida offered to hand over power to him but he rejected.
“I was indeed offered, but I declined,” Falae said.
“Because I was the one who physically took Abiola to the Social Democratic Party in General Adebayo’s house in Ikeja. I was a presidential aspirant in the SDP with Shehu Musa Yar’Adua and 10 others before Abiola came in. It was when we were disqualified that Abiola came in; he was not a member of the SDP, it was my own Olu Falae Campaign Organisation nationwide that I handed over to Abiola that he used to win the nomination.
“All my supporters like Alhaji Abubakar Rimi, Yohanna Madaki, Adebayo, to mention a few, were all my supporters whom I handed over to Abiola to constitute his own campaign committee and at the Jos convention of the SDP, when the thing was deadlocked, I addressed my supporters to support Abiola and he won the nomination.
“So having done all that, how could I have come and take the offer of interim head in a government designed to deny him his mandate? I am not that kind of a person. Integrity requires that I did not even consider it and I did not.”
On the role in the annulment of the June 12 election, he said, “Don’t forget that I had left government three years before the annulment. I left government in August 1990; annulment was in 1993, I was no longer in government, I was already participating in politics. I had aspired to run for the presidency before Abiola came into politics.
“At that time, I was no longer close to Babangida as you were supposing and I was no longer one of those consulted by the government before taking any decision. The annulment came to me as a surprise.”