M.K.O ABIOLA: A HERO IN AN ERA OF WARRIORS

Born Kashimawo, but renamed Moshood at adolescent, M.K.O Abiola has set the standard for democracy in Nigeria.

Moshood was born to Abeokuta farmers Salamo and Suliat Abiola, and it is believed that he is the 23rd of his father’s children to have survived infancy. Abiola went to African Central School, Abeokuta then Baptist Boys High School where he acquired his secondary education.

He initially worked as a clerk at Barclays Bank in Ibadan thereafter, before traveling to further his education at University of Glasgow where he earned a degree in accounting, and qualified as a chartered accountant. After completing his education, Abiola returned to Nigeria to begin his career that’ll one day lead to him being the greatest politician Nigeria will ever produce.

Abiola initially worked at Unilag Teaching Hospital(1965-1967) as a Senior Assistant, then Pfizer(1967-1969) as the Comptroller before he moved to ITT Corporation(Africa and Middle East) where he was initially the comptroller before he moved his way up the ladder to become the Vice-president of the company. It is during this period that Abiola begins to nurture his presidential aspirations.

While at ITT Corporation, Abiola wanted to secure 50% of the stake of the Nigerian arm of the company, so he sought to gain this by clearing the backlog of the debt owned by the military, gaining a trust in CoAS Hassan Katina. He establied Radio Communications Nigeria, and sought an alliance with the military government to supply telcom equipments as a result of destructions of properties during the Civil War Era. He was able to acquire 49% stake in ITT Corporation.

At 19, Abiola had previously joined NCNC as opposed to Action Group who he tagged pro-tribal as opposed to NCNC pan-Nigerian views. In 1979, he Joined NPN and was elected state chairman in 1980 for his state. During the 1983 reelection, NPN was able to produce the president, allowing Abiola a chance to be able to contest in the next elections, but his dreams were dashed in 1983 due to a coup by Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida.

During this period, Abiola began to garner a positive image with Northerners due to his Islamist views and his stance on Sharia law. After 10 years of pressure, IBB finally agreed to allow primaries to hold in the country in preparation for transition into civilian rule in 1993. The NEC banned previous parties and candidates from campaigning, after which Abiola campaigned under the banner of the SDP defeating Atiku Abubakar and Baba Gana Kingibe in the party’s primaries. His political messages were “FAREWELL POVERTY” , “AT LAST! OUR RAYS OF HOPE” , “BURDEN OF SCHOOLING”, and his policies were to focus more on the economy, bring in foreign investments and investors, manage the national debt of the federation and to be a trustworthy and transparent diplomat. He picked Baba Gana Kingibe as his running mate for the elections.

On June 12 1993, MKO Abiola defeated Bashir Tofa of NRC by winning two-third of the entire states including Abuja, the capital, and Kano, Bashir Tofa’s own state. After having the political scene in the country run by Northerners since Independence, a Southern Muslim was able to secure a national mandate from the citizens in an election that is tagged the freest and fairest election ever conducted in the country.

Due to IBB’s greed and selfish interest to remain in power, he annulled the election causing a political crisis that lasted throughout the year, all over the country. This led to Sani-Abacha seizing power by effecting a coup to overthrow the incumbent president installed by IBB, Ernest Sonekan. In 1994, MKO declared himself the lawful president of Nigeria in Epetedo, Lagos State, after which Abacha accused him of treason and declared him wanted. 200 police vans were sent to bring him into custody where he was detained for 4 years in solitary confinement with just a Bible and Quran, and the company of 14 guards to keep watch over him.

In 1996, Alhaja Kudirat Abiola, Abiola’s 1st wife was murdered due to the public Solidarity she showed her husband. Abacha used force to quell the resentment of the Public, detaining any pro-democracy leader he found. Dignitaries and Human Rights Activists from all over the world lobbied for the release of MKO Abiola from the shackles of the Nigerian Government, before he was finally allowed to leave 4 years after his imprisonment on the condition that he renounced his mandate. Kofi Annan and Emeka Anyaowu who were sent to Abiola to discuss terms of his release stated that he had accepted the condition of the government to renounce his mandate, something Abiola never accepted to. Abiola collapsed during a visitation by delegations from U.S.A, after which he died of an alleged heart attack on the 7th day of July, 1998.

There were allegations from his Chief Security Officer who alleged that MKO was been beaten to death, and from Wole Soyinka who was a close friend and associate of Abiola who also alleged that Abiola had been poisoned to death. One thing is for certain from all allegations meted out against the government. Abiola was not in good health as at when he was to be released. His health had deteriorated, and he was on already on the verge of collapsing even if he wouldn’t have been released from confinement. This is the constant fact in all allegations.

22 years after MKO’s death, the condition of the country is no better than it was before. There have been an increase in unemployment rates, tribalism has been on the rise, the security of the life and property of the citizens has worsened, there’ve been a massive rise in the poverty rate in the country to mention a few.

The country has plunged deeper into the abyss of petty political machinations, corruption and incapability from people who are meant to be its leaders, and its citizens have become corrupt and soiled just like its leaders have taught them. Who then will save mother Nigeria? Who will save its people?

Our hero is no more, the warriors killed him, but his legacy and philanthropic works continue to live on in the life of the country and the citizens who benefit from it.

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