The constitution of the Third Republic was drafted in 1989, when General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB), the military Head of State, promised to terminate military rule by 1990 – a date which was subsequently pushed back to 1993. IBB lifted the ban on political activity in the spring of 1989, and his government established two political parties: the center-right National Republican Convention (NRC) and the center-left Social Democratic Party (SDP). Gubernatorial and state legislative elections were conducted in December 1991, while the presidential election was postponed till 12 June 1993 – due to political unrest. MKO Abiola, a wealthy Yoruba businessman, won a decisive victory in the presidential elections on the SDP platform.
On 23 June 1993, IBB had the election annulled, and this threw the country into chaos. IBB eventually bowed to pressures from his inner circle and resigned from office on 23 August 1993. Ernest Shonekan, a Yoruba business man, and the head of IBB’s transition team, assumed the office of the presidency as the Head of the Interim National Government. Shonekan was unable to manage the political turmoil which ensued in the post IBB months. His caretaker government was quietly removed from office, by the Minister of Defence, General Sani Abacha on 17 November 1993. On 11 June 1994, president-elect Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, declared himself president and went into hiding. The Abacha administration hunted Abiola down and arrested him for treason. Abiola remained in prison until his death in 1998.