The notion of Abiola's electoral defeat as a Democracy Day in Nigeria is absolutely preposterous M.K. Abiola, like many leading politicians, was involved in a wide range of commerical enterprises, including telecommunications with ITT ('international Tief Tief' according to Fela) and transport by air and sea. As a sideline Abiola was allegedly involved in the drug trade. While it is no doubt true that IBB voided the June 12 election before its conclusion and precipitated a national emergency the truth behind that intervention has never been fully understood by the Nigerian populace.
The Nigerian military on the Council were adamant that the Babangida government should never allow Abiola to run for office and told President Babangida so during the aborted runof primaries before the election. The basis for their concern about Abiola was the information and docuentation being circulated in Washington, London and Lagos of Abiola's alleged ties to the drugs business. The US, in particular, had expressed its strong opposition to IBB about the candodacy of Abiola as President; not because of his politics or allegations of corruption, but rather for the evidence they felt was correct about Abiola's alleged drugs connections. This issue was raised in the Military Council on three occasions and Babangida was warned. He refused to take a decision until it was almost too late. US Ambassador Lannon Walker and the British Consul visited IBB and warned him about Abiola but Babangida dithered which made the impact worse as the polling had begun. When he finally decided to intervene and stop the election, he precipitated the crisis of June 12. His friends in the military supported him but were felt let down by IBB's lack of decisiveness. While there was consternation in Nigeria about the ouster of Abiola, the major international partners of Nigeria were not upset or concerned because they know what the reasons were for the development.
Abiola went to jail and died on the day of his release. The Yoruba people have always felt that they were cheated by the abrupt stopping of the election which they say Abiola actually won. This chorus of displeasure has been repeated over and over by Abiola's running mate Baba Gana Kingibe. Kingibe and his colleagues have been trying for years to reinstate the image of Abiola as a reputable politician but to no avail. They have now persuaded Buhari to sign the decree establihing June 12 (the day that Abiola's election was stopped) as a Day of Democracy. The charge of being a "druggie" was not limited to Abiola. There have been several prominent Nigerians reported internationally as being involved in the international drug trade and the EFCC has been in liaison with the U.S.and British authorities for years on this business.
Some prominent Nigerian politicians have ben lauded as important democrats even though their history in drug dealing is well-known and widely circulated. Perhaps one of the best known is Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, known as "Jagaban", the national leader of the APC, , Buhari's party. He was the subject of a DEA, FBI, and IRS investigation in Chicago. Twenty-odd years ago Tinubu had to forfeit nearly half a million dollars to the U.S. Treasury Department after being named as an accomplice in a white heroin-trafficking and money-laundering ring that stretched from West Africa to the U.S. Midwest. Tinubu was identified as a bagman for two Nigerian heroin movers who operated out of Chicago and Hammond, Indiana. They were Adegboyega Mueez Akande and Abiodun Agbele, Akande’s nephew. Tinubu was never indicted for any crime. He eventually settled with the district court, turning over $460,000 of the seized $1.4 million from the arrest of Akande. Now Tinubu is a respected democrat, just like Abiola.