Chief Ernest Adegunle Oladeinde Shonekan who headed the Interim National Government that succeeded the junta of General Ibrahim Babangida, has died.

Shonekan died in Lagos at the age of 85.

He was the interim head of the Nigerian Government between August 26 and November 17 1993 when he was ousted in a coup led by late General Sani Abacha.

EARLY LIFE

Shonekan was born on 9 May 1936 in Lagos. The son of an Abeokuta-born civil servant, he was one of six children born into the family.

Shonekan was educated at CMS Grammar School and Igbobi College. He received a law degree from the University of London, and was called to the bar. He later attended Harvard Business School.

INTERIM GOVERNMENT

Shonekan was unable to control the political crisis which ensued following the election annulment. During his few months in power, he tried to schedule another presidential election and a return to democratic rule, while his government was hampered by a national workers’ strike. Opposition leader Moshood Abiola, viewed Shonekan’s interim government as illegitimate. Shonekan released political prisoners detained by Babangida. Shonekan’s administration introduced a bill to repeal three major draconian decrees of the military government. Babangida made the interim government weak by placing it under the control of the military.

Shonekan had lobbied for debt cancellation but, after the election annulment, most of the Western powers had 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,[5] an organisation that had many operational inefficiencies. Shonekan served as an Executive of Royal Dutch Shell while acting as the interim president of Nigeria.[6]

Shonekan tried to set a timetable for troop withdrawal from ECOMOG‘s peacekeeping mission in Liberia. General Sani Abacha, was the minister of defence and chief of defence staff who had full control over the military.