• Reject Bamaiyi’s narrative
By Gboyega Akinsanmi
The pan-Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, on Sunday rejected the account of former Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Ishaya Bamaiyi, that the leaders of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) betrayed the acclaimed winner of June 12, 1993 presidential election, Chief Moshood Abiola, and misled him to death.
Backing Afenifere’s position was a former Ogun State Governor, Chief Olusegun Osoba, who also described Bamaiyi’s account as completely untrue, noting that NADECO never betrayed Abiola as the retired general claimed in an autobiography, ‘Vindication of a General’, he presented to the public in Abuja last Thursday.
The duo faulted Bamaiyi’s personal account of the June 12 struggle in separate telephone conversations with THISDAY on Sunday, describing his claim as a revisionist outburst by one of the evil generals that held Nigeria to ransom under the administration of the late tyrant, Gen. Sani Abacha.
Bamaiyi had, in a 243-paged autobiography he launched last week, alleged that the betrayal of Abiola by members of the NADECO culminated in his continuous detention and eventual death.
He also claimed that the advice of NADECO to Abiola that he should not accept his conditional release was the reason he was kept in detention indefinitely by Abacha until he passed on.
Bamaiyi, who was Chief of Army Staff between March 1996 and May 1999 and one of the powerful generals in the Abacha junta until he fell out of favour, accused leaders of NADECO of pressuring the late Abiola to declare himself as president in 1994 without being committed to such move.
His account is at variance with other accounts that say that NADECO leaders staked their lives in the struggle for actualising Abiola’s June 12 mandate, thereby resulting in the deaths of some of them, including Chief Alfred Rewane while Pa Abraham Adesanya escaped assassin’s bullets by a whisker.
However, in Osoba’s telephone conversation with THISDAY on Sunday, he described Bamaiyi’s claim as totally untrue, noting that NADECO never betrayed Abiola which led to his death, but rather the organisation struggled endlessly to actualise the June 12 mandate and secure Abiola’s release.
Osoba, who unrepentantly played active roles in the June 12 mandate, faulted Bamaiyi’s claims one after the other, noting that all allegations recorded in Bamaiyi’s book did not contain an iota of truth.
He explained that there was no way the leaders of NADECO could have betrayed Abiola, citing those who lost their lives, those who survived gunshots and those who went on exile due to their involvement in the June 12 struggle.
Contrary to Bamaiyi’s allegation that the leaders of NADECO advised Abiola to declare himself president of Nigeria, Osoba said the coalition and its leaders were not properly carried along when the decision was made.
He disclosed that Abiola’s declaration was hurriedly arranged and coordinated for security reasons. “The leaders of NADECO were not carried along. Prince Ademola Adeniji-Adele, also deceased, was then in charge of the arrangement for the declaration, not NADECO,” he said.
The former governor also denied the claim that NADECO received money from the United States to destabilise Nigeria, noting that no dollar was channelled to the coalition and its leaders as some retrogressive elements claimed.
He explained: “At no time was any individual, foreign group or the United States offered the coalition money. NADECO in the United States was even broke at that time. So, NADECO was totally self-funding. I am writing my own already. I have already addressed all allegations Bamaiyi made in my book.”
Also, Afenifere, in a conversation with its Publicity Secretary, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, rejected Bamaiyi’s claim on two grounds, citing the accounts of the former Chief of General Staff, Lt. Gen. Oladipo Diya, and that of Col. Gabriel Ajayi, who were allegedly involved in a phantom coup plot against Abacha.
Odumakin said Bamaiyi’s claim “is a revisionist outburst by one of the evil generals who held Nigeria to ransom under the Abacha junta. It is on record that Afenifere played prominent roles in the June 12 struggle”.
He said: “Bamaiyi’s account was different from the account Gen. Diya provided when he was arrested in 1997 for alleged involvement in a phantom coup plot. Gen. Diya then alleged that Bamaiyi was the mastermind of the coup contrary to what Bamaiyi himself claimed.”
Odumakin also cited the account of Col. Ajayi, whom he said, took Holy Communion with Bamaiyi on the day of the coup. “Bamaiyi’s autobiography is an attempt to reverse history and de-odourise the evil plot that stalled Nigeria for five years. And Bamaiyi was a leading participant,” he said.