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Vol 39 No 7

Published 3rd April 1998


Nigeria

Room at the top

As the coup plot trials near their conclusion, a sweeping military reshuffle looms and a new civilian presidential candidate emerges

True to his word, his supporters say, General Sani Abacha is determined to hand over to a civilian successor in October - himself. A year ago, that script looked quite plausible. With a formidable war chest (foreign reserves of over US$7 billion) Abacha's supporters would build a huge national political organisation and the military would be delighted that their man was planning to stay as civilian president and protect their interests. Meanwhile, a massive public investment programme was to have taken off to reverse the collapse of the education and health services, and cut the chronic unemployment and crime rates in the cities. None of that has happened. Instead, a covertly-funded campaign backing Abacha's presidential ambitions is under way, run by such luminaries as Daniel Kanu, Godwin Daboh and Bukar Mandara. Last year, Chief of Army Staff Major Gen. Ishaya Bamaiyi described the Abacha lobbyists as 'doubtful characters'.

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