Ernest Shonekan: What you should know about late Ex-Nigerian Head of Interim National Government

January 11, 2022

Chief Ernest Shonekan, a former Nigerian leader and head of the Interim National Government that succeeded the military regime of General Ibrahim Babangida, has passed on.

Shonekan, who was reported to have died on Tuesday, January 11, at a hospital in Lagos, was the interim head of the Nigerian Government between August 26, 1993, and November 17, 1993, when he was removed in a palace coup led by the then Minister of Defence, General Sani Abacha, 3 months into his administration.

Before his appointment as the head of the Interim National Government, Shonekan, who was an industrial guru and Chief Executive Officer of the UAC Conglomerate, was the head of the transitional council and head of government under the administration of General Ibrahim Babangida.

What you should know about Chief Shonekan

  • Shonekan was a British-trained lawyer, industrialist, and former Chairman/Managing Director of the United African Company of Nigeria (UAC) Plc before he was appointed as Interim President of Nigeria by General Ibrahim Babangida in 1993.
  • He was born on May 9, 1936, in Lagos into the family of an Abeokuta-born civil servant. He was educated at CMS Grammar School and Igbobi College.
  • He received a law degree from the University of London and was called to the bar. He later attended Harvard Business School.
  • Shonekan joined the UAC in 1964. He rose through the ranks in the company and was promoted to an assistant legal adviser. He later became a deputy legal adviser and joined the board of directors at the age of 40.
  • He was made chairman and managing director in 1980 and went on to cultivate a wide array of international business and political connections.
  • On January 2, 1993, Shonekan assumed office as head of the transitional council and head of government under General Babangida. 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.
  • Babangida later resigned from office in August 1993, following the annulment of the 12 June presidential election. He had signed a decree establishing the Interim National Government led by Shonekan who was subsequently sworn-in as Head of State.
  • Three months into his administration, Shonekan was overthrown in a palace coup by General Sani Abacha in November that year.
  • In 1994, he founded the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, an advocacy group and think-tank for private sector-led development of the Nigerian economy.

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