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‘Abacha’s boys’ almost staged coup during consultation on constitutional conference – Ofonagoro



  Abacha s boys almost staged coup during consultation on constitutional conference Ofonagoro

Former Minister of Information and Culture during General Sani Abacha regime, Professor Walter Ofonagoro, says the ex-military leader was almost overthrown by ‘his boys’ during consultations on the adoption of the 1995 constitutional conference report.

The Imo State-born elder stateman, said Nigeria would not have been in its current challenges if Abacha had converted the report of the conference to a constitution.

Speaking in an interview with the Tribune, Ofonagoro said the constitutional conference attracted prominent Nigerians, hence, the document churned out by it was in the best interest of the country.

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He said : “I was the chairman of the committee that organised the constitutional conference elections in conjunction with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to make sure that there was full participation in the conference and ensure that the West doesn’t boycott the elections so as not to sabotage the efforts of Abacha to get the country back to the civil rule.

“So I say okay, what do we do? How do we ensure that the election takes place when a whole region is determined not to participate in it? So we had to find a solution. In that case, there is no point in going through the normal process of using the voter›s card. So I said what we are going to do is universal adult suffrage, in which on the election day, everybody that is 18 years and above, queues up behind his candidate and we then count manually. And at the end of the process nobody went to court as they all saw transparency in the process.

” Oluwole Awolowo was at the conference. Even [Odumegwu] Ojukwu, who led the civil war, was there in person. Alex Ekwueme was also there. Virtually all the big wigs in the country then were at the conference and we sat down for one and a half years and drafted a constitution that would have saved Nigeria all the troubles we are going through now. But Abacha refused to sign the constitution into law after all our efforts in June, 1995.

“And from that time till 1998 that he died, Abacha did not sign the constitution. He was just seeking opinions from all kinds of people, while his own boys were at the same time planning a coup to remove him.”

Asked if that constitution had been signed, Nigeria won’t be in the current mess, Ofonagoro responded in affirmative.

” Yes, if the 1995 constitutional conference reports had been signed into law, Nigeria will not be in the mess it is today. Abacha split Nigeria into six zones (three majority zones and three minority zones), not majority in numbers, but in language like the British, which has four tribes or nations. The Welsh have the Welsh language, while the English have the English language. Then, the Scots have the Scottish language, while the Irish take the Irish language. But four of them make up the United Kingdom or Great Britain. So they rule in four and rotate their leadership. So, if we are going to have a united federation, why force everybody to stay on one unit and concentrate all the powers at the centre, making one ethnic group to dominate the rest? You are simply asking for disaster; it will never work. We have done our best to produce the structures and documents. I took part in the designing of the presidency and the rest.

“We have done our parts to make the Nigerian project work. But now, what we see is mass killings. Before, Nigeria used to be one of the most secured people in the world. But now, it is the opposite.

” If you look at the 1995 constitution, which Nigerians agreed to, we said for the six regions, give each of them autonomy, so as to make the federation work. Each of the regions should be allowed to control its own resources and then pool a part of the resources to the central government. And this is what everybody is hoping and ready for, ” he said.


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