In a rare display of bitter truth, Nigeria’s ex-Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Matthew Mbu, has revealed that he knew about the plan by the late Head of State, General Sani Abacha to remove Nigeria’s Interim leader, Chief Ernest Shonekan, from office within three months.
Mbu’s revelation is contained in his autobiography entitled “Dignity in Service” due for public presentation on Tuesday next week at the Yar’Adua International Conference Centre, Abuja.
At a news conference in Abuja announcing the book launch, the son of the late diplomat, Senator Matthew Mbu Jr., eulogised his father and said that he would be proud to have him again as a father if there was another opportunity because of his outstanding qualities that helped to build the Nigerian nation.
“We are very proud of the legacies of our late father and, today, we are happy that he was more concerned with rendering national service above self service while alive, something that is fast declining in today’s Nigeria.
“Today’s politics is dominated by people who want to seek personal gains above national interest and that readily explains why the nation is not making the right progress despite many years of politics,” Senator Mbu Jr. lamented.
In the book, the late diplomat, who was the foreign affairs minister in the government, said he had hint of the Abacha’s coup against Shonekan from the United Nations but did not specify who the actual person was.
The Boki-born politician and career public servant wrote, “Thereafter, they gave me hints that we would not last more than two to three months in office and that they were going to sack us. I had hints about the eventual takeover by General Abacha from the UN.
“When I came back, I packed all my things as usual but I could neither get Shonekan to understand me, nor even his boss, IBB. I said, “Don’t make the mistake of handing over to Shonekan; if you do that, in three months Abacha will take over and Shonekan will be jettisoned from his seat.”
“Exactly three months later, it happened. IBB phoned me and said, “You said it!” and I replied, “What did I tell you?” There was an intimate relationship that existed between IBB and Abacha. IBB told me that Abacha had done him favours in the past. He had saved him from two coups. Probably that explains why they were so intimate because he was the only one who could come and interrupt him at anytime and stay with him for hours.
“As the foreign affairs minister, I had a lot to do and I could not wait until when IBB was through with Abacha, other ministers could not do it but I could go there at anytime and I would always ask IBB, “What is it between you and this man, haven’t you done enough for him?” He would reply “He did so much for me.”
“The execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa was considered to be out of line with international norms and there was outrage, Nigeria’s reputation was once more on the line. Nigeria was to be expelled from the Commonwealth.
“At the time that they asked me to go to London to talk to my friends. Abacha was also contemplating detaining me. He sent for me several times but I refused to heed his call. When we finally met, he said, “You are my friend, you are supposed to be here with me but you refused to come. I sent for you several times.” I answered, “I never heard.”
He said, “I’ve been compelled to use Maitama Sule, Shonekan, everybody else but you, why did you refuse to come?” I did not know there was a plan to get me detained. I was leaving for Calabar at 5p.m, but at the airport I was told, “No you can’t travel, the commander-in -chief has directed that you go to London and lead a delegation to talk to the Commonwealth about Nigeria’s problem.” I said “When?” They answered “tonight” and I retorted, “Have you got a ticket for me?” That was the catch: they had nothing for me — it was just a ploy to see whether or not I‘ll say no.
The fellow who saved me was in the government — he had told me, “You’d better say yes because they want to detain you, so use all your diplomacy to wriggle out of it. If you say no, that’s exactly what they want from you.” Their thinking was that they had done everything to get me to Abuja, and I refused so they wanted to detain me under the guise that I refused to serve Nigeria in her hour of need.”
Mbu also narrated in the book why he stayed away from Jonathan’s government despite the fact that he championed for a South-South presidency using the South South Peoples Assembly, SSPA.
He said, “I deliberately wanted to stay away from the administration of Goodluck Jonathan. In the game of politics, you only engage in exclusion when you fail to fight for your rights. Jonathan was excluding himself and his presidency was heading for a precipice.
“He needed to reorganise himself and strategise. Politics is not a charity, if you fight for what is your right, and you cannot protect it, it will be taken from you. The South-South got recognition when I championed the South-South People Assembly. We campaigned for the presidency. It was clear to everyone that Dr. Peter Odili from the South-South zone was ready to provide leadership.
“However, the PDP primary of 2006 was a fiasco of internal democracy. Jonathan was made the running mate to Umaru Musa Yar’Adua in that convention. Dr. Peter Odili, our prepared and preferred candidate, was betrayed by the party hierarchy. Personally, I was sick because of the antics of a mischievous individual who had hoped that things would degenerate to a level that would lead to crisis and a declaration of a state of emergency.
“We are all mortals; President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua could not accomplish much, not just because he was sick, but also because he was not prepared for the demanding office of president. That was equally true of Jonathan as vice president.
“When Yar’Adua eventually passed the way of all mortals and an unprepared Jonathan became president, Jonathan suddenly forgot that he was the president of Nigeria and became obsessed with the Ijaw nation propaganda with a selected few. That was not the idea of the South-South presidency I championed.
“It does not mean a narrow agenda, rather a national service from this once forgotten zone. The obsession of Jonathan with certain characters kept me away from the presidency. A Yoruba man, Olusegun Obasanjo influenced his nomination as vice president, Dora Akunyili, an Igbo woman, intervened in the federal executive council for the transfer of power to Jonathan. Pastor Tunde Bakare of Save Nigeria Group, made the Senate, headed by someone from the Middle Belt, to initiate the doctrine of necessity. So, why the obsession with a myopic agenda based on Ijaw propaganda?
“My distance from Jonathan was not complete incommunicado. I did advise him to properly articulate his agenda and reduce the bogus listed items to three: (1) free and fair election (2) security and (3) reduce the quantum of corruption that is visible within the corridors of power.
“If these are achieved, Nigerians in their ingenuity will fashion out the rest in no time. I proposed this to him because these are intrinsically democratic dividends. No other system of government can deliver them thoroughly with checks and balances”.
Mbu also spoke about the 1979 election, revealing that it was rigged by the National Party of Nigeria, NPN.
“The 1979 elections were brazenly rigged and that was partly why the army came in. I contested for the senate. I went and told Zik, “For the first time they rigged elections against me” and Zik said “What!?” and I said, “Yes, the way they told me, they said I was going to fail.” Victor Akan couldn’t believe it and tried to blame me for not taking their warnings seriously. But I guess I took too much for granted,” the author said.
“They told me that they just changed my results in favour of Joseph Wayas. They admitted that “Wayas never campaigned, we put him there for nothing, the results we were announcing were your results, we just gave it to Wayas.”
“That was the only election I ever lost. But I also knew that they were not going to last long in power with that kind of situation. Moreover, the army boys told me they were going to strike. They said if I planned to go anywhere I could go and I said “I hope it’s not going to be bloody.” They assured me that it was not going to be bloody but that they were taking over government, which they did,” the book reveals. – Vanguard.