The name Ernest Adegunle Oladeinde Shonekan entered Nigerian political lexicon on January 2, 1993 when former Military President, General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, appointed him as head of the Transition Council and Head of Government. He later became the interim Head of State (Head of Interim National Government) after Gen Babangida ‘stepped aside’ from office on August 26, 1993 following the crisis that trailed the annulment of the June 12 presidential election, won by Chief MKO Abiola.
And since then, Ernest Shonekan, GCFR, had remained in the political consciousness of Nigerians.
Prior to his political career, Shonekan, a lawyer, had a rich background in the private sector. He served as chairman and chief executive officer of United African Company of Nigeria (UACN) – a vast Nigerian conglomerate, which at the time was the largest African-controlled company in sub-Saharan African.
Shonekan joined the United Africa Company of Nigeria in 1964, at the time a subsidiary of the United Africa Company (UAC), later UACN, which was the successor of The Royal Niger Company – a mercantile company formed in 1879.
He rose through the ranks in the company and was promoted assistant legal adviser. He later became a deputy adviser and joined the board of directors at the age of 40. Shonekan was subsequently chairman and managing director in 1980, and went on to cultivate a wide array of international business and political connections.
Chief Shonekan also served as an Executive of Royal Dutch Shell.
Shortly after his spell as Head of the Interim National Government (ING), Shonekan in 1994 founded the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), a private sector-led think-tank and policy advocacy group.
The NESG which is a non profit, non-partisan and apolitical organissation promotes sustainable growth and the development of the Nigerian economy.
Its objectives include building a first-class research institution to help support stakeholders in the execution of policies, articulate programmes and strategies in response to any emerging trends in national and world economy and having a clear economic action agenda.
Born on May 9, 1936, Shonekan, attended CMS Grammar School and Igbobi College. He obtained his law degree from the University of London and was called to the bar. He also attended Harvard Business School.
Until his death, he was a member of the Council of State. He is survived by wife, Margaret, and children.