On 24 June 1993, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida announced the annulment of the June 12 election widely believed to have been won by Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola of the Social Democratic Party (SDP).
The total result of the election – though not declared by the National Electoral Commission (NEC) – indicated a victory for Abiola who defeated Bashir Tofa of the National Republican Convention (NRC).
According to the first batch of election results announced by NEC on 14 June, Abiola won 19 out of 30 states, and the Federal Capital Territory.
He won all the states of the south-west; three of the seven states in the south-east; five of the nine northern states including Kano, Tofa’s state; and four out of the seven states in the central middle belt.
Of the 6.6 million votes that had been announced, Abiola had received 4.3 million and Tofa 2.3 million.
However, Babaginda, who was the military ruler, annul the election. He cited the issue of vote-buying and other electoral irregularities.
The annulment led to protests and political unrest, including the resignation of IBB and a weak interim civilian government.
It later culminated in the continuation of military rule in the country with Sani Abacha ascending to power as the military head of state via a bloodless coup later in the year.
However, Babangida, today, in an exclusive interview with Arise TV, was faced again with the question of why he annulled the election widely considered to be the best in the history of Nigeria.
He responded by saying;
“Do you want me to be honest with you?”
When Ngozi, the interviewer, gave a nod, he continued and said:
“If it materialized (If the election had gone through), there would have been a coup d’etat which could have been violent. That’s all I can confirm.
“It didn’t happen, thank God for the Maradonic way we handled you guys in the society.”
IBB added that the election “could have given room for more instability in the country.”
When asked if he was pressured by the military or civilians to annul the election, IBB said: “Both.”
He said again, “Both, the Military, they can do it because they have the weapons to do it. The other is the social agitation.”