The Presidential Years

We had a conference in Nigeria on militarism and democracy while Sani Abacha was still the President. Mohamed Abubakar was chief of defence. Buhari was also there and he gave a paper but he had already retired. I also gave a paper. I had gone there with Masondo. We were talking about the military in democracy and I related the story about how in our democracy a putsch wouldn’t be tolerated, and I quoted this thing that Mandela said to the staff council, which included some of the people from the old regime who formed the military with us, that any reversal of this democracy would be intolerable to the people themselves and would be smashed.

Incidentally we formed a very great friendship with Abubakar who later, after Sani Abacha died, became president and I actually linked him and Mandela. You know the relations between Nigeria and we were very strained because Mandela wouldn’t tolerate what was happening there. So when Abubakar became president after Sani Abacha died, I called Mandela and said I have relations with the current president and I can call him so you can talk to each other and start the relations afresh, which he did.

So I was sure that when Abubakar became president he was not going to hang on to power because he knew about this thing!

Siphiwe Nyanda