Ernest Shonekan

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Ernest Shonekan
Ambassador Bob Dewar with Ernest Shonekan (3509232597) (cropped).jpg
9th President of Nigeria
In office
26 August 1993 17 November 1993
Vice President Moshood Abiola
Preceded by Ibrahim Babangida as Military Head of State
Succeeded by Sani Abacha as Military Head of State
2nd Prime Minister of Nigeria
In office
4 January 1993 26 August 1993
President Ibrahim Babangida
Vice President Augustus Aikhomu
Preceded by Abubakar Tafawa Balewa (in 1966)
Succeeded bypost abolished
Personal details
Born (1936-05-09) 9 May 1936 (age 83)
Lagos, British Nigeria
Spouse(s) Margaret Shonekan

Chief Ernest Adegunle Oladeinde Shonekan (born 9 May 1936 in Lagos, Colonial Nigeria) is a British-trained Nigerian lawyer, industrialist, politician and traditional chieftain. He was appointed as interim president of Nigeria by General Ibrahim Babangida on 26 August 1993.

Lagos Metropolis in Nigeria

Lagos is a city in the Nigerian state of the same name. The city, with its adjoining conurbation, is the most populous in Nigeria and on the African continent. It is one of the fastest growing cities in the world and one of the most populous urban areas. Lagos is a major financial centre in Africa; the megacity has the fourth-highest GDP in Africa and houses one of the largest and busiest seaports on the continent.

Colonial Nigeria Former British colony and protectorate in West Africa

Colonial Nigeria was the area of West Africa that later evolved into modern-day Nigeria, during the time of British rule in the 19th and 20th centuries. British influence in the region began with the prohibition of slave trade to British subjects in 1807. Britain annexed Lagos in 1861 and established the Oil River Protectorate in 1884. British influence in the Niger area increased gradually over the 19th century, but Britain did not effectively occupy the area until 1885. Other European powers acknowledged Britain's dominance over the area in the 1885 Berlin Conference.

Ibrahim Babangida Head of State of Nigeria

Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, is a retired Nigerian Army General who was President of Nigeria from 27 August 1985 to 26 August 1993. He previously served as the chief of army staff from January 1984 to August 1985. Babangida was a key player in most of the military coups in Nigeria.


Babangida resigned under pressure to cede control to a democratic government. Shonekan's transitional administration only lasted three months, as a palace coup led by General Sani Abacha forcefully dismantled the remaining democratic institutions and brought the government back under military control on 17 November 1993.

Sani Abacha Military leader, politician

Sani Abacha was a Nigerian Army officer and dictator who served as the de facto President of Nigeria from 1993 until his death in 1998. He is also the first Nigerian soldier to attain the rank of a full star General without skipping a single rank.

Prior to his political career, Shonekan was the chief executive of the United African Company of Nigeria PLC, a large Nigerian conglomerate.

Early life and education

Shonekan was born and raised in Lagos, the former Nigerian capital. The son of an Abeokuta-born civil servant, he was one of six children born into the family. Shonekan was educated at C.M.S grammar school and Igbobi College Yaba. He also attended and received a law degree from the University of London, and was later called to the bar.

Abeokuta City in Ogun State, Nigeria

Abeokuta is the largest city and state capital of Ogun State in southwest Nigeria. It is situated on the east bank of the Ogun River, near a group of rocky outcrops in a wooded savanna; 77 kilometres (48 mi) north of Lagos by railway, or 130 kilometres (81 mi) by water. As of 2006, Abeokuta and the surrounding area had a population of 449,088.

CMS Grammar School, Lagos Secondary school in Bariga-Lagos, Lagos State, Nigeria

The CMS Grammar School in Bariga, a suburb of Lagos in Lagos State, is the oldest secondary school in Nigeria, founded on 6 June 1859 by the Church Missionary Society. For decades it was the main source of African clergymen and administrators in the Lagos Colony.

University of London federal public university in London, United Kingdom

The University of London is a federal research university located in London, England. As of October 2018, the university contains 18 member institutions, central academic bodies and research institutes. The university has over 52,000 distance learning external students and 161,270 campus-based internal students, making it the largest university by number of students in the United Kingdom.


He joined UAC in 1964, and was later sent to Harvard Business School. At UAC, he pursued a legal path; a few years after joining the company, he was promoted to the position of assistant legal adviser. He became a deputy adviser two years later, and soon joined the board.

Harvard Business School business school in Boston, Massachusetts

Harvard Business School (HBS) is the graduate business school of Harvard University in Boston, Massachusetts. Consistently ranked among the top most business schools in the world, the school offers a large full-time MBA program, management related doctoral programs, HBS Online and many executive education programs. It owns Harvard Business Publishing, which publishes business books, leadership articles, online management tools for corporate learning, case studies and the monthly Harvard Business Review. It is home to the Baker Library/Bloomberg Center.

In 1980, he was made chairman and chief executive of UAC. As head of UAC, he was the chief executive of the largest African-controlled company in Sub-Saharan Africa. [1]

Sub-Saharan Africa Area of the continent of Africa that lies south of the Sahara Desert

Sub-Saharan Africa is, geographically, the area of the continent of Africa that lies south of the Sahara. According to the United Nations, it consists of all African countries that are fully or partially located south of the Sahara. It contrasts with North Africa, whose territories are part of the League of Arab states within the Arab world. The states of Somalia, Djibouti, Comoros and the Arabic speaking Mauritania are however geographically in sub-Saharan Africa, although they are members of the Arab League as well. The UN Development Program lists 46 of Africa’s 54 countries as “sub-Saharan,” excluding Algeria, Djibouti, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Somalia, Sudan and Tunisia.

Head of Transitional Council

Shonekan was a seasoned and proven businessman with a wide network. His abilities and political neutrality made him a prospective leader for Babangida's council of civilian government, an entity which was in the midst of economic turmoil and later came to a political crisis. On 2 January 1993, 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.

Shonekan learned of the dire condition of government finances, which he was unable to correct. The 1993 budget was pegged to include a 28 billion naira deficit with little money left in its foreign reserves. The government was hard pressed on debt obligations and had to hold constant talks for debt rescheduling.

Improvements were underway. The Armed Forces Ruling Council had designed a realistic two-year economic program. The program's outline called for reducing the petrol subsidy, to bring in 65 billion naira to government coffers. A modification of VAT was also in the works and a plan to inculcate fiscal discipline. By the end of June, following the cancellation of the presidential elections of 12 June, the Nigerian nation was engulfed in political turmoil. Fiscal discipline was not heeded, and the government exceeded the deficit target by the beginning of the second quarter. By August 1993, Babangida had decided to step aside and install an Interim government.

Interim government

Oloye Shonekan assumed the office of President of Nigeria on 26 August 1993, with Babangida's blessing. The nation was gradually moving towards a stalemate. Shonekan had lobbied for debt cancellation but, after the cancellation of 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 released political prisoners detained by Babangida. He tried to set a timetable for troop withdrawal from ECOMOG's peacekeeping mission in Liberia. The government also initiated an audit of the accounts of NNPC, the oil giant, [2] an organisation that had many operational inefficiencies. Shonekan's administration introduced a bill to repeal three major draconian decrees of the military government.

His control of the military was loose. This would ultimately prove to be his undoing, as the defence secretary made a military coup and took control of power in November 1993, just a few months into the administration. [3]

See also


  1. "Stronger Moves Towards Manufacturing", Financial Times (London, England), 3 March 1986
  2. "Government Probes Oil Industry Corruption", The Associated Press, 16 September 1993
  3. Agence France Presse, --Full cabinet list of interim government-- English, 26 August 1993

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Political offices
Preceded by
Ibrahim Babangida
Interim Head of State of Nigeria
26 August 1993 – 17 November 1993
Succeeded by
Sani Abacha