How OBJ, Shagari & Others broke MKO’s heart

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MKO Abiola, the Man who wanted to Rule Nigeria
Moshood was devastated by the death of General Mohammed. He felt that the general’s dream of a prosperous nation was about to drift away after he had put in so much work. But that was not the only concerns that Moshood had. His businesses, to his dismay, had suddenly fallen on hard times. Under the leadership of General Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigeria’s new ruler, who had been a classmate of Moshood’s in secondary school, ITT was being neglected.

The government refused to honor its commitments to the company, which forced it to lay off some of its workers. It was a tough period for Moshood and the fact that things had changed so drastically over such a short period of time made the situation all the more traumatic. That was when he made up his mind to establish himself in the private sector in order to become immune to the actions of any hostile government.


But despite the hardship that his companies faced during this period, Moshood never bore any grudge against the new military ruler, with whom he had a lot in common. They were both born in 1937, they both came from Abeokuta, the same part of Ogun State, and when Moshood was the editor of The Trumpeter, his secondary school journal; General Obasanjo was the deputy editor.
MKO & Kudi Abiola
In line with his habit of analyzing rulers, Moshood scrutinized the policies of Nigeria’s current leader and, after a thorough analysis, gave him a passing grade. He was impressed that General Obasanjo, unlike many African leaders, did not jettison the positive policies of his predecessor. “Just like General Mohammed, General Obasanjo is keeping government expenditure low, which will stop inflation from climbing through the roof. With him there is still hope for this country” But it was General Obasanjo’s firm grip on the nation’s finances that pleased Moshood the most. “He believes in saving money, which means that Nigeria will have an umbrella for the rainy days ahead”.
 
MKO Abiola; The Star Child
Moshood became more interested in politics after General Obasanjo had made it clear that he would ensure that the military transition to civilian rule, which had been initiated by General Murtala Muhammad, would come to pass in 1979. This was a date that Moshood waited for in anticipation and preparation. General Obasanjo fulfilled his promise and handed over power to an elected democratic government in 1979.

“But despite the hardship that his companies faced during this period, Moshood never bore any grudge against the new military ruler, with whom he had a lot in common. They were both born in 1937, they both came from Abeokuta, the same part of Ogun State, and when Moshood was the editor of The Trumpeter, his secondary school journal; General Obasanjo was the deputy editor”.

Moshood became active in politics. He was a strong member of the NPN, the party whose northern candidate, Shehu Shagari, won the presidential elections and took over power from General Obasanjo. Moshood, who believed that the new president would take Nigeria to new heights, played a very supportive role by being one of the major sponsors of the political party that brought him to power. Moshood also silently hoped that he would be the party’s presidential candidate in the next presidential elections.
The GDA Speaks with the Author of the book, The President Who Never Ruled, Abdul-Jamiu Abiodun Abiola
But he was soon disillusioned by the government’s policies. One of the key areas of his discontent had to do with the federal government’s handling of local governments. Moshood, who considered local governments as closest to the people, was dismayed when he realized that the federal government had no plans for allowing local governments to hold their own elections. Instead, it preferred a system in which governors appointed local government administrators. Voicing his opinion one day, Moshood stated bitterly, “The way they are treating people at the grass root level is despicable. Denying them elections is akin to saying that they are not relevant or wise enough to make their own choices. How will the grass roots ever develop if things remain like this?”


Former President Shehu Shagari

That was not all that bothered Moshood about the government. He was appalled by the large scale of corruption, which he attributed to a deficient checks-and-balances system. “The major organs of government, which were empowered to scrutinize people’s actions and moderate excesses, hardly rise up to that responsibility”
Umaru Dikko, The Man Shehu Shagari used to discredit MKO Abiola
But despite his grievances, he remained in NPN because the UPN, the other viable political party, according to him, was headed by someone who was “personally hostile” toward him. Aside from that, Moshood nursed a presidential ambition that he hoped to realize through the NPN, where he enjoyed enormous goodwill. His party would have to field a southern candidate once the current president, a northern one, completed a single term in line with an agreement in place. But this arrangement became impossible after the current president unexpectedly indicated his interest in running for a second term. Moshood did not give up, though. And that put him at loggerheads with the president and also with a man named Umaru Dikko, a very powerful minister at that time. The government launched a series of verbal attacks against Moshood through Umaru Dikko

General Olusegun Obasanjo

Moshood ignored Dikko. He wanted to be president and he had no intention of backing down. But he finally had to walk away after he suffered a humiliating defeat at the party convention in Benue State. He returned home that day almost in tears. He had actually believed that he would emerge as the party’s flag-bearer. Kudirat rushed to his room. But before she could utter a word, he began complaining. “Now they are saying that the presidency is not for sale. Did I ever say it was? The original plan was for the presidency to shift to the south after four years. Was I the one who made and broke the rules?” He stared out of the window in disbelief. “It is obvious that deceit runs in the blood of some of our political leaders and that is why they always end up running the country down”


General Muritala Mohammed

Not knowing how to console him, Kudirat resorted to a Koranic verse and uttered it slowly. “You may hate something and it is good for you and you may love something and it is bad for you”
That was all she said. She did not offer any interpretation because she was certain that he knew what she meant. Moshood made up his mind on the following day to pay more attention to his businesses. He regretted allowing politics to distract him for so long and, although he was still very wealthy, he also regretted the fortune that his involvement in politics had cost him. His immediate plan was to invest in all sectors and to become completely independent of the government.
The GDA & The Author in a Rare Display of The Book
President Shagari was reelected for another four years. But within less than five months, his government was overthrown by the military on December 31, 1983. General Buhari, a quiet and principled man from northern Nigeria, became Nigeria’s new ruler. Many people believed that Moshood, as a result of his rift with the Shagari government, was the one who had financed the coup. Moshood denied the allegation vehemently although he was relieved that the government had collapsed. Speaking of that government one day, he said, “The fact is now glaringly evident that among the factors which contributed most significantly to the demise of the Second Republic was the absence of any objective and critical assessment of its workings while it lasted”.
The Book that cleaned MKO of all his Political attrocities
(Excerpts from the book, The President Who Never Ruled by Jamiu Abiola; get copies in any book shop across the world or write Jamiu Abiola through jamiulinguist@yahoo.com. Read Buhari’s Coup & the MKO Connection in our next post on this blog)

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