Ernest Shonekan Turns 84 Today

Oloye Ernest Adegunle Oladeinde Shonekan (born 9 May 1936) is a Nigerian statesman, nobleman, lawyer and businessman who was appointed the interim President of Nigeria by General Ibrahim Babangida on 26 August 1993. Babangida resigned due to the annulment of the 1993 Nigerian presidential election.

Prior to his political career, Shonekan was the chairman and chief executive of the United African Company of Nigeria, a large Nigerian conglomerate, which at the time was the largest African-controlled company in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Economy

Shonekan had lobbied for debt cancellation but, after the election annulment, most of the Western powers had imposed economic sanctions on Nigeria. Inflation was uncontrollable and most non-oil foreign investment disappeared. The government also initiated an audit of the accounts of NNPC, the oil giant, an organisation that had many operational inefficiencies.

Political crisis

Shonekan was unable to control the political crisis which ensued following the election annulment. During his few months in power, he tried to create a new timetable for democratic return, while his government was hampered by a national workers’ strike. Opposition leader Moshood Abiola, viewed Shonekan’s interim government as illegitimate.

Democratisation

Shonekan released political prisoners detained by Babangida. Shonekan’s administration introduced a bill to repeal three major draconian decrees of the military government.

Military

Shonekan tried to set a timetable for troop withdrawal from ECOMOG’s peacekeeping mission in Liberia. General Sani Abacha, was the minister of defence and chief of defence staff who had full control over the military. In November 1993, three months into his administration, Shonekan was overthrown in palace coup by Abacha.

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