Former Nigerian leader Ernest Shonekan dies at 85

Chef Ernest Shonekan

Chief Ernest Shonekan, who headed the interim national government that succeeded General Ibrahim Babangida’s military rule, has died.

He died Tuesday January 11 in a hospital in Lagos.

News of his death was confirmed to Channels Television by the Ogun State Government.

Shonekan was the interim head of the Nigerian government between August 26, 1993 and November 17, 1993.

He was ousted in a coup led by the late General Sani Abacha.

Shonekan was a British-trained lawyer, industrialist and former managing director of the United African Company of Nigeria Plc (UAC) before being appointed interim president of Nigeria by General Ibrahim Babangida in 1993.

He was born on May 9, 1936 in Lagos in the family of an official born in Abeokuta. He was educated at CMS Grammar School and Igbobi College.

He obtained a law degree from the University of London and was admitted to the bar. He then attended Harvard Business School.

Shonekan joined UAC in 1964. He rose through the corporate ranks and was promoted to Deputy Legal Counsel. He then became deputy advisor and joined the board of directors at the age of 40.

He was appointed President and CEO in 1980 and has continued to cultivate a wide range of international trade and political relationships.

On January 2, 1993, Shonekan took office as head of the transitional council and head of government under General Babangida.

At the time, the Transition Council was conceived as the final phase leading to a programmed handover of power to an elected Democratic leader of the Third Republic of Nigeria.

Babangida then resigned from his post in August 1993, following the annulment of the June 12 presidential election. He had signed a decree establishing the interim national government headed by Shonekan, who was then sworn in as head of state.

Three months after starting his administration, Shonekan was overthrown in a palace coup by Abacha in November of the same year.

In 1994, he founded the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, an advocacy and think tank for the development of the Nigerian economy led by the private sector.

Since then, Shonekan has continued to feature prominently as an elderly statesman.

At the time of his death, he was the third oldest Nigerian head of state after Queen Elizabeth II and General Yakubu Gowon.

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