One of the oldest surviving former Nigerian leaders, Chief Ernest Adegunle Oladeinde Shonekan is dead.
Ernest Shonekan's death was announced on Tuesday, January 11, 2022, at age 86.
AllNews Nigeria has compiled all you need to know about the late Nigerian lawyer and statesman Ernest Shonekan.
Ernest Shonekan attended C.M.S Grammar School and Igbobi College both in Lagos after which he studied law at the University of London in the United Kingdom. after which he was called to bar in Nigeria.
Prior to his political career, Shonekan 1980 was the chairman and chief executive of the United African Company of Nigeria (successor of The Niger Company), a vast Nigerian conglomerate, which at the time was the largest African-controlled company in Sub-Saharan Africa.
On January 2, 1993, Shonekan assumed office simultaneously as head of the transitional council and head of government under Ibrahim Babangida. At the time, the transitional council was designed to be the final phase leading to a scheduled handover to an elected democratic leader of the Third Nigerian Republic.
Shonekan led the transitional government under severe lack of government finances. The government was hard-pressed on international debt obligations and had to hold constant talks for debt rescheduling.
In August 1993, Babangida resigned from office, following the annulment of the 12 June elections. He signed a decree establishing the Interim National Government led by Shonekan who was subsequently sworn-in as head of state.
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, an organisation that had many operational inefficiencies. Shonekan served as an Executive of Royal Dutch Shell while acting as the interim president of Nigeria.
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.
Ernest Shonekan was born May 9,1936. He was married to Margaret Shonekan who was born on October 28, 1940 in Gusau, Zamfara State.
Their union birthed four children namely, Adeboye, Korede, Kemi and Yele.
In November 1993, three months into his administration, Shonekan was overthrown in a palace coup by then Defence Minister General Sani Abacha
In 1994, he founded the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) an advocacy group and think-tank for private sector-led development of the Nigerian economy.
Since then Shonekan had gone on to feature prominently as an elder statesman, he is the third oldest surviving Nigerian head of state by age after Elizabeth II and Yakubu Gowon.