At the Jos Township Stadium, during the SDP primaries in 1993, Babagana Kingibe, who came very tightly close to Abiola, had the support of most SDP Governors like Oyegun of Edo, Bamidele Olumilua, Felix Ibru, etc.
Also, others like Emeka Ojukwu, Arthur Nzeribe, Olusola Saraki, Ben Obi, Ebenezer Babatope were all bitter haters of MKO Abiola and great supporters of Kingibe. As delegates, they cast their votes for him on the first ballot and were ready to do the same on the second ballot.
MKO got support from Osoba, Kolapo Ishola, Isiaka Adeleke, Lamidi Adedibu, Bola Tinubu, Lateef Jakande, Chuba Okadigbo, Sule Lamido, Balarabe Musa, Abubakar Rimi, Dosu Ladipo, Yohana Madaki, Tony Anenih, Ango Abdullahi etc.
Those three were the leading aspirants, and a run-off must be conducted among the trio to select the flagbearer.
Yoruba Leaders in Jos thought it might be over for MKO since Kingibe and Atiku polled 5,321 to MKO’s 3,617…..if Atiku merged with Kingibe, one of them would get the ticket!
To break any possible alliance between Atiku and Kingibe, these three people headed straight to Ambassador Kwande’s house, where General Musa Yar’adua was to have a chat with him. They were Dosu Ladipo, Adedibu, and SM Afolabi.
General Yar’adua was Atiku’s godfather.
On getting to Kwande’s house, they approached Yar’adua’s personal assistant Inuwa Baba, who told them that the General was sleeping and shouldn’t be disturbed. The trio ignored him, went straight to General’s bedroom, and banged his door!
“Me nene?” Yar’adua shouted.
“Open the door, General”, the trio screamed back.
He opened the door.
The trio begged Yar’adua to stop Atiku. “Remember how we became Yoruba people enemies when we supported you and jettisoned Falae? Help us, too, to regain our love back from our people. Tell Atiku to step down.”
Yar’adua agreed…..”For you good people, I agree to support MKO. Go and bring him. I can do anything for my friends,” Yar’adua replied.
Immediately, Abiola joined the trio, and Atiku also came in to join Yar’adua.
Yar’adua and Atiku spoke in Hausa at length, and in the end, Atiku broke down in tears and wept when his boss asked him to step down. Yar’adua gave him handkerchief.
While he was weeping, Abiola went close to him, hugged him and told him, “You will be my deputy..”
Atiku then spoke, facing Yar’adua, “Since you’re the one who brought me into politics, sir, I cannot disobey you…”
That was the statement that sealed Kingibe’s fate in Jos, and by the time Atiku announced his withdrawal for MKO, the SDP ticket went to Bashorun Abiola.
After MKO hugged Atiku and told him, “you will be my deputy”, here is the politics that followed…
Atiku and co left Ambassador Kwande’s house. They headed to the Jos Township Stadium, where he mounted the podium and announced his withdrawal from the race, leaving only Abiola and Kingibe.
Atiku’s withdrawal gave victory to MKO.
The usual thing for MKO was to announce his deputy during his acceptance speech immediately. That was the plan. But as soon as Abiola was declared the winner, before anyone could say Jack Robinson, Kingibe stood up and walked towards MKO, “My President, I’m loyal,” he said. Then, before Abiola could recover from the shock of Kingibe’s unexpected greeting, “I’m the best VP that can give you victory”, Kingibe continued right inside the stadium while his “corpse” was not yet cold.
“Please, Please, Ambassador, this is not the right time for this, please”…..Abiola replied Kingibe.
But 12 out of 14 SDP Governors also asked Abiola to pick Kingibe, or they sabotage his campaign!!! Only Kolapo Ishola and Osoba supported MKO wholeheartedly.
This was why Abiola completely omitted the VP issue in his acceptance speech to avoid the wrath of the governors and not to break Atiku’s heart!
Shortly after his victory, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB) called MKO and told him to pick Pascal Bafyau if “you want me to hand over to you”…..IBB also warned MKO not to pick Atiku at all as he won’t be able to survive the Fulani collaboration being sponsored by Yar’adua and symbolised by Atiku.
Abiola was in a dilemma.
Again, Abiola was to address SDP supporters in Kaduna, expectedly, to announce his deputy. Atiku had arranged two horses, one for Abiola, one for him. That was the SDP style of celebration. But, again, for fear of the governors and IBB, Abiola didn’t announce his deputy for the second time.
One day, in his house in Ikeja, Abiola, via a press conference, announced Kingibe as his deputy, thereby bowing to the deadly wishes of Governors and ready to go into war with IBB and pacify Atiku.
The excuse to justify this was that “Atiku stepped down, but he didn’t say he stepped down for Abiola”…..Abiola supporters knew that Abiola wouldn’t win if Atiku didn’t step down, but politics is a crafty game.
It pained Atiku to his bones.
Indeed, IBB kept his threat. He sabotaged June 12, and Yar’adua took his pound of flesh when he threw his weight behind the annulment and opted for Interim Government!
May God bless the reading of History for the enlightenment of our souls.