This is the Biography of Chief Ernest Adegunle Oladeinde Shonekan, former President (interim) of Nigeria. Ernest Shonekan was born on May 9, 1936 in Lagos, Colonial Nigeria. His father was an Abeokuta-born civil servants and he was one of six children born into the family. Ernest Shonekan attended C.M.S grammar school and Igbobi College both situated in Lagos. He is a lawyer and he attended and received a law degree from the University of London and was later called to the bar.
Shonekan was Head of the Transitional Council of Babangida‘s government in 1993. Shonekan was a seasoned and proven businessman with a wide network. Because of his proven abilities and political neutrality, Babangida liked him and made him a prospective leader for his council of civilians-run government, a government which was in the midst of economic turmoil and later came to a political crisis.
On January 2, 1993, Chief Ernest Shonekan assumed office as the head of government affairs under the leadership of the military president Babangida. At the time, the transitional council was designed to be the final phase leading to a scheduled hand over to an elected democratic leader.
Chief Shonekan later assumed the office of President of Nigeria on August 26, 1993, and he was the first and only person to be appointed President of Nigeria by a sitting Military ruler, Babangida. Babangida, instead of returning power to the people to make their choice via the polls, thus installed his man, Shonekan as President and took a background seat in running the affairs of the country.
Nigeria was gradually moving towards a stalemate. Shonekan had lobbied for debt cancellation but, after the cancellation of the 12 June elections, most of the western powers had imposed economic sanctions on Nigeria.
Inflation was uncontrollable and most non-oil foreign investment disappeared. The political problems continued. The winner of the 12 June elections vowed to oppose the interim government. The democracy supporters of southwest Nigeria, Shonekan’s region, considered him an obstacle on the nation’s path to democracy, social justice, and improving the welfare of the people. During his few months in power, he tried to create a new timetable for democratic return, while his government was hampered by a workers’ strike.
Shonekan’s administration introduced a bill to repeal three major draconian decrees of the military government and during his tenure, he loosely controlled the military.
On November 17, 1993, Shonekan’s Defence Secretary, General Sani Abacha seized power from Shonekan’s largely powerless government to become Head of State.