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Nigeria’s former Head of State, Ernest Shonekan is dead

Former Head of Nigeria’s Interim National Government (ING), and former UAC Chairman, Chief Ernest Adegunle Oladeinde Shonekan is dead.

Chief headed the government of national unity put in place by the Military President, Gen Ibrahim Babangida after the annulment of the June 12, 1993 elections won by the late Chief Moshood Kashimawo(MKO) Abiola.

The Guardian Newspapers which broke news of the death, reported that Shonekan died in Lagos at the age of 85. The family is yet to announce the death.

The late lawyer and technocrat was the Head of State between August 26 and November 17 1993 when he was ousted in an internal coup led by late General Sani Abacha.

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.

Shonekan had lobbied for debt cancellation but, after the election annulment, most of the Western powers 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 organization that had many operational inefficiencies.

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. Most members of the democratic opposition viewed Shonekan’s interim government as illegitimate.

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

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