Former Military President, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (rtd), has described Chief Ernest Shonekan as one of the cerebral minds of his regime.
Shonekan took over from Babangida on August 26, 1993, but his government was toppled by the late General Sani Abacha on November 17, 1993.
Abacha, who was then Secretary Of Defence of the Interim National Government led by Shonekan, reportedly briefed the Head of the ING about the ongoing turmoil across the country with regards to the annulment of June 12 elections before taking over from him.
In a statement he issued on Tuesday, Babangida described Shonekan’s death as a great loss to Nigeria.
“The shocking news of the death of one of Nigeria’s finest brains and patriots came to me this morning with a helpless awe. I hadn’t the faintest idea that Chief Ernest Shonekan would depart this sinful world too soon, even at 85. He was a man, a leader and an uncommon patriot who had a presence of mind and whose understanding of Nigeria was profound and remarkable. It is indeed a personal loss to me.
“He was the architect of our principle of free market economy which helped to open up the system for a robust participation by the private sector. The liberalisation of the economy, the investment and boost in the agricultural sector and budget management approach were part of his brain child.
“It was therefore timely for us to appoint him as Head of the Interim Government to help stabilize the polity at a most trying period of our country’s political evolution. He was a calm personality whose managerial skills were foretold in the way and manner he managed a lot of blue chip companies. As Head of the Interim Government, he was able to consult with a broad spectrum of the Nigerian populace in charting a roadmap out of the political impasse at that time. His brilliance and meticulous interrogation of situations helped in large measure to forge ahead during the period. I owe a personal gratitude to him throughout his sojourn on earth as we maintained very robust mutual relationship after his exit from the corridors of power.
“Given the achievements we recorded during our time in government in the area of infrastructure, economy and social rebirth, I owe a word of gratitude to him for his experienced intervention in helping to dissect our policy frameworks each time we called upon him to do so. He was an engaging personality whose sense of patriotism was total. He was friendly and sociable. He understood economy and made so many projections that helped us to bail the country out of economic conundrum. We benefited from his immense knowledge, experience and brilliance.”
Babangida prayed Allah grant the soul of late Ernest Shonekan eternal rest.