Former chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) board of trustees, Tony Anenih, says MKO Abiola would not have lost his life if he listened to his advice.
Anenih said he advised Abiola not to declare himself the president after winning the controversial June 12, 1993, election which was annulled by Ibrahim Babangida.
The elder statesman revealed this in his book ‘My Life and Nigerian Politics.’
According to him, Abiola reached a secret agreement with Sani Abacha, former head of state, to take over from Ernest Shonekan, interim president, but he fled the country when things heated up.
He said after Abiola’s scheming to succeed Shonekan had failed, he came back to the country and out of frustration declared himself president.
He said: “It is a pity indeed, that Chief Abiola kept the leadership of the party away from his arrangement with General Abacha to take over from Shonekan. If he had brought it to the notice of the leadership of the party, he would have been advised well.
“In a similar but not exactly identical set of circumstances, I had advised Chief Abiola against declaring himself the president of this country when frustration arising from Abacha’s refusal to hand-over to him drove him into that extreme line of thought. I spoke to him on telephone pointing out that the army was not there to back him up. He had no police support, and not even the immigration or customs would back him.
“It was clear to me that the course of action to which Chief MKO Abiola was heading was not only going to be self-destructive, but also ruinous. He was play into the hands of the military and offer himself as a sacrificial lamb by delivering himself to those who for various and obvious reasons, very much wanted him out of the scene.
“Chief Abiola did not listen. The result of his line of action landed him in jail.
“I wished he had listened to my advice not to declare himself president of this country. If he did, I believe he would, in all probability, still be alive today. Frustration arising from the collapse of his scheming drove him into extreme step which, in the end, set up a chain of events that ultimately caused him his life.”
Anenih was the national chairman of Abiola’s Social Democratic Party (SDP).