Chief Ernest Shonekan

Ernest Adegunle Oladeinde Shonekan (Abese of Egbaland) is a politician and a Nigerian lawyer (trained in Britain). He was the Interim President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for only three months (August 26, 1993, to November 17, 1993).

General Ibrahim Babangida handed over power to him pending when the next democratic election will be conducted, but he was forcefully removed from his position by a military coup led by General Sani Abacha. 

Ernest Shonekan Early Life

Ernest Shonekan was born on May 3, 1936, in Lagos state. He is one of six children born to an Abeokuta- civil servant. He attended CMS Grammar School Igbobi and Igbobi College, both in Lagos State. He then furthered his education in the United Kingdom and received a law degree from the University of London.

Ernest Shonekan Political Career and Business Life

In 1964, he became a United African Company UAC member, the largest African-controlled company in Sub-Saharan Africa. He continued his legal practices until he became the deputy advisor of UAC and also a board member. In 1980, he rose to the position of Chairman and Chief executive of the UAC.

Ernest Shonekan was a skilled, experienced, and established businessman with a reputation that precedes him. Due to these dynamic qualities, the sitting President, General Ibrahim Babangida became interested in him and made him the head of the Transitional Council Of General Babangida’s government in 1993.

The transitional council is a council of civilians-run government, set up to oversee the transfer of the then military government to a civilian government. This military government was in the midst of an economic and political crisis.

On August 26 1993, Ernest Shonekan became the Interim President of Nigeria, handed over to him by General Babangida, when the pressure of the nation’s crisis became too much to handle.

Ernest Shonekan met the nation’s economy in an awful situation and could not fix it. 

Inflation was unmanageable and the non-oil foreign investors left the country. He faced constant opposition from the winner of the annulled June 12 elections. And there was also opposition from the democracy supporters, as they saw him as someone who will hinder the nation’s transition to democracy.

Shonekan also unsuccessfully tried to cancel the debts garnered by the nation. This was due to the annulment of the June 12 elections, which caused the western powers to sanction Nigeria, as they considered the annulment to be unfair, controversial, and unreasonable. 

Ernest Shonekan also lifted press restrictions, freed political prisoners, and dissolved the oil bureaucracy (a sector that attracted so many accusations of squandering the country’s oil revenues). 

According to New York Times, world financial development institutions- the International Monetary Fund(IMF) and the world bank- urged Shonekan to increase the price of fuel by 600%. This decision caused an uproar in the country and led to a national strike. Factories, banks, and major shops were closed and the Police fell into clashes with Pro-democracy protesters.

While he was still trying to fix the situation, his tenure was cut short and he was forced out of office in a coup led by General Sani Abacha. This coup took place on November 17, 1993, and General Sani Abacha became the new military head of state.

Ernest Shonekan Personal Life.

Ernest Shonekan is married to Margaret Shoneken, they have four children and their names are Adeboye, Korede, Kemi, and Yele. After his days in Government, he spends his days as an elder statesman.

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