Monday, 18 July 2016

How MKO Abiola raised Fifty Million Dollars for Presidential Election


By on 16:52
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MKO Abiola; The Enigma

“Good morning Chief Abiola! It is so nice to see you” Moshood’s driver, sounding excited, greeted him as he appeared in the arrival hall of the Charles de Gaulle International airport in Paris. But after a closer look at his boss, his tone changed sharply. “Sir you look so exhausted. Didn’t you get any sleep on the plane?”
Moshood laughed faintly. He handed over his briefcase to the very tall and pale-looking man with broad shoulders before saying quietly, “It is nice to see you, as well”.  Both men shook hands and began walking toward the exit before Moshood added regretfully, “You are right. I am exhausted because I did not sleep at all on the plane. But if you drive smoothly on the way to London, I am sure I will get some sleep”
His driver had another idea. “Are you in a hurry to get to London?” he asked. “If the answer is no then why don’t you spend the night in Paris? There are a lot of hotels on the Champs Elysees that are as good as the Savoy. After a solid rest, you can even do some sightseeing”
MKO & his loving Kudi

 He had mentioned the Savoy because that was Moshood’s favorite hotel in London. Having a big house in London had never stopped him from spending days in the Savoy. Moshood smiled in appreciation before admitting solemnly, “What a wonderful idea! But the timing is wrong. If only you knew what was on my mind, you would have advised me to do some soul- searching instead of sightseeing”.

The GDA meets Abdul Jamiu Abiodun Abiola on Dad's book

His driver did not utter a word after that. They walked for several minute before they reached Moshood’s Rolls Royce. It was neat and sparkling and seemed new. But for the first time, to his driver’s surprise, Moshood entered it without thanking him for keeping it in such good condition. Once inside, as the journey began, Moshood saw the latest editions of his favorite magazines on the back seat. Although the headline covers were catchy, all he wanted to do was sleep. He soon fell into a deep slumber that, to his dismay, lasted only two hours.
“Money would be needed, he acknowledged-plenty of it- in order to influence the delegates. But how much was he willing to spend? He had heard talk of the military government’s plan to assist each of the presidential aspirants with twenty million naira (the equivalent of ten million dollars then). He laughed at the thought, wondering whether that amount would be even enough for the primaries. And then there was another issue that bothered him that morning”
MKO Abiola; The Star Boy from Abeokuta

Once he was fully awake, his mind shifted to his political agenda. His primary concern in the car that morning was his political party, the SDP, one of Nigeria’s two political parties then. How would he win its presidential primaries? Until recently the military president had banned all former politicians, including Moshood, from participating in politics, which had given the advantage to a new breed of politicians. He would have to overcome the influence of this group, which was now a bigger challenge because some of its members, after recently becoming governors, had formed a powerful and formidable bloc within the party. Moshood feared that they might even be powerful enough to decide the winner of the presidential primaries.


IBB

Money would be needed, he acknowledged-plenty of it- in order to influence the delegates. But how much was he willing to spend? He had heard talk of the military government’s plan to assist each of the presidential aspirants with twenty million naira (the equivalent of ten million dollars then). He laughed at the thought, wondering whether that amount would be even enough for the primaries. And then there was another issue that bothered him that morning.


Late General Musa Shehu Yar' Adua; He was angry with MKO over Jos Primaries

The military president, through a set of decrees, had the power to cancel the electoral process for any reason he saw fit. As a matter of fact he had done that before, and had ruined many politicians financially. Even after the primaries, the state security service (SSS) was still empowered to re-screen victorious candidates and recommend their disqualification. All of a sudden, Moshood was having a sharp headache. He took some Panadol and tried to sleep but he was not able to until they had arrived in London. Once at home he went straight to his room and slept.

The Author Abdul Jamiu Abiodun Abiola tells the GDA the Story of Dad's rise from nothing to something


Moshood woke up after almost twelve hours. He was glad to discover that his fears, like a whirlwind, had disappeared by then. He rose and walked around his room energetically for a while. He sat back on his bed then removed his diary from his briefcase and started making some important calls. He called his key bankers in the United Kingdom, one after the other, to notify them of his plans and to tell them that he would visit them within two days to discuss the modalities of funding his campaign with some of his holdings in Europe. As an accountant, such matters were easy for him. It was his generosity and the fact that it might prevent him from keeping his expenses within reasonable limits that gave him some concern. Although he knew that he had helped many Nigerians from all walks of life over the years, he was certain that he would still have to spend a lot of money on his campaign.


The Book of MKO Abiola by Jamiu Abiola

That same day he decided not to allow his expenditures to exceed fifty million dollars. A part of him was sad, as he reflected on his independent and luxurious life as a businessman, because he knew that a peaceful and predictable era was about to end.

 (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 Day MKO got Yar Adua, IBB angry in Jos in our next post on this blog)

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