Former Nigerian leader Ernest Shonekan dies at 85

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Chief Ernest Shonekan, the former head of the Interim National Government that succeeded the military junta of General Ibrahim Babangida, is dead.

Shonekan, a boardroom guru before his selection to head the Interim National Government, died in Lagos at the age of 85.

He was the Chairman of the interim National Government between August 26 and November 17 1993 when he was ousted in a palace coup led by late General Sani Abacha who was Secretary of Defence.

According to report, Shonekan died at a hospital in the Lekki area of Lagos state.

He was titled Abese of Egbaland from 1981 in addition to a variety of other chieftaincy titles

Prior to his political career, Shonekan was the chairman and chief executive of the United African Company of Nigeria (successor of The Niger Company), a vast Nigerian conglomerate, which at the time was the largest African-controlled company in Sub-Saharan Africa

Shonekan was born in Lagos on May 9, 1936. The son of an Abeokuta-born civil servant, he was one of six children born into the family.

Shonekan 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 United Africa Company of Nigeria in 1964, at the time a subsidiary of the United Africa Company which played a prominent role in British colonisation. He rose through the ranks in the company and was promoted assistant legal adviser. He later became a deputy 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 simultaneously as head of transitional council and head of government under Ibrahim Babangida. At the time, the transitional council designed to be the final phase leading to a scheduled hand over to an elected democratic leader of the Third Nigerian Republic.

Shonekan learned of the dire condition of government finances, which he was unable to correct. The government was hard pressed on international debt obligations and had to hold constant talks for debt rescheduling.

In August 1993, Babangida resigned from office, following the annulment of the June 12 elections. He signed a decree establishing the Interim National Government led by Shonekan who was subsequently sworn-in as head of state.

In November 1993, three months into his administration, Shonekan was overthrown in palace coup by Abacha.

In 1994, he founded the Nigerian Economic Summit Group an advocacy group and think-tank for private sector-led development of the Nigerian economy.[8]

Since then Shonekan went on to feature prominently as an elder statesman