Hajiya Ireti Kingibe, former wife of one-time Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babagana Kingibe, has denied that her husband abandoned MKO Abiola at the height of the struggle to validate the result of the June 12, 1993 presidential election.
Ireti Kingibe said in the current edition ofmagazine that it was, in fact, Abiola who left her former husband in the cold.
In her first major interview 25 years after former military President, General Ibrahim Babangida, annulled the election, Ireti Kingibe said: “In truth, Baba Kingibe only went to see Abiola and found out that Abiola had left the country. And when Abiola called from abroad, it was me he got.
“Those days we had landlines. Baba (Kingibe) was not at home. I picked up the phone and he (Abiola) said to me in Yoruba that I should tell my husband that a bird does not tell another bird that a stone is coming. So, when Baba came back, I said Abiola called and this is the message he left for you.
“Baba said to me, ‘did he call to apologize?’ I said no, he did not call to apologize. He just gave an explanation or a rationalization for his action and this is what he said. He ‘no, no! You didn’t understand his Yoruba well.’ I said you can go and find out from anybody.”
Ireti Kingibe said Abiola ignored her husband’s advice to land in Kano because of the perception that was fast gaining ground that he was “a Yoruba president”.
She portrayed her husband as “a hostage” of the government of the former military head of state, General Sani Abacha, saying he was miserable throughout and only gained his freedom after Abacha’s death.
Saying she shared the family’s dilemma at the time with Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, she added: “It was either Kingibe would stay in Abacha’s government or Abacha was going to bury him alive.”
Responding to criticisms that her former husband did not deserve the national honour of Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger granted to him earlier in the year because he betrayed Abiola, Ireti Kingibe said such criticisms were “unfair.”
The MD/Editor-In-Chief of The Interview magazine, Azu Ishiekwene, described the edition as “a ringside account by a woman who has been in the vortex of Nigeria’s power play since 1976, when former military head of state General Murtala Mohammed who was her elder sister Ajoke’s husband, was killed in a violent coup attempt.”
Ireti Kingibe, who is running for the sole senatorial seat on the platform of the All Progressives Congress in the Federal Capital Territory, also spoke on her relationship with President Muhammadu Buhari and the role of women in politics.
Also, in this edition, the maverick senator who once represented Zamfara Central, Malam Saidu Dansadau, has said Buhari’s time is up, promising that he would be removed from office in February next year, through what he described as the “Macron wave.”
The Nigerian teacher, whose school produced the best A-level result in the UK this year, Dr. Dayo Olukoshi, and an alumnus of the Young African Leadership Initiative, Saidat Shonoiki, spoke at length in this issue.