An elder statesman and 1999 presidential election candidate, Chief Olu Falae, has said that the death of Chief MKO Abiola stalled a transitional meeting that the then Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, invited him for in Abuja.
Falae, who was reacting to a book, ‘Vindication of a General’, written by former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Ishaya Bamaiyi, said on Monday that there were rumours in the South-West, particularly in his state (Ondo State), that he had been killed alongside Abiola on that ‘terrible day’.
Falae, who contested the 1999 presidential election on the joint platform of the Alliance for Democracy and the All People’s Party, said any right-thinking person would infer that a transitional programme excluding Abiola had been on, even while the widely acclaimed June 12, 1993 presidential election winner was alive.
Falae said, “Yes it is true that I was invited by General Abdulsalami through General Bamaiyi. Bamaiyi actually phoned me. Unfortunately, before I met General Abdulsalami, the news broke that Abiola was dead. It was the day I got to Abuja and before I saw Abdulsalami that the news was out that Abiola had died.
“So, it was a terrible day. Although I did meet General Abdulsalami late in the night on that day, there was no real meeting. We just met and in the light of what had happened, nothing serious took place, because of the bad news that happened in the afternoon.
“Abdulsalami already scheduled the meeting with me before the issue of Abiola’s death came and I had already physically arrived in Abuja. On that evening, I just told him that the transition should be meaningful, free, fair and acceptable to the people of Nigeria. We did not have any discussion in the real sense.”
When asked if he thought the military government started a transition programme excluding Abiola even while the man was alive, Falae said, “That is an inference that any right-thinking person could make from the move. But let me say that Abdulsalami did not ask me to contest.”