Sunday, 18 December 2016

FELA fought MKO Abiola over personal interest — Segun Aka Basorun + How his father served both MKO & FELA


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Segun Aka Basorun (R) Mum, Mrs. Kudirat Aka Basorun, APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Segun's brother, Layi Aka Basorun in New York

Segun Aka Basorun is one of the few privileged sources to the political train that led Nigeria into her present democratic regime which late Chief MKO Abiola symbolizes. Segun’s father, late Chief Alao Aka Basorun was one of the few names that resonated with the struggle of democratic freedom which MKO Abiola sacrificed his life for with his truncated June 12, 1993 Presidential mandate by the military regime of IBB, Abacha and Abdulsalami Abubakar. Aka Basorun can be described as a privileged source of history. He was the only man who served as a lawyer to the two most controversial personalities in the history of Nigeria’s political evolution. He was a lawyer to late Afro beat musician, Fela Anikulapo Kuti as well as the influential MKO Abiola. Both MKO and FELA disagreed on so many issues ranging from politics to riches and lifestyle as MKO was labeled ‘Friend of the Establishment’. However, Alao Aka Basorun was lucky to work for the two distinguished Nigerians without raising any doubt of disloyalty to the two sides.
Segun Aka Basorun
Segun, a political scientist and first son of late Chief Alao Aka Basorun spoke with your Africa’s Number 1Celebrity encounter blog, Asabeafrika on Saturday December 10, 2016 after an end of the Year book reading event organized by a top Lagos based networking organization, Africanhub to highlight the book ‘The President Who Never Ruled’ written by late Chief MKO Abiola’s 5th son, Abdul-Jamiu Abiodun Abiola (Shetima Rasheed of Borno)
 Jamiu a multi-linguist, business man and author had written the book to put straight some issues around the image of his late Dad, Basorun MKO Abiola. One of the very controversial issues was the alleged illegal acquisition of Nigeria’s common wealth by MKO through inflated contracts awarded to him by the military establishment through ITT, an American owned telephony company which appointed MKO as its Africa and Middle East representative. Segun Aka Basorun put light to the issue of the bitter feud between Fela Anikulapo Kuti an alumnus of Abeokuta Grammar School and MKO Abiola an alumnus of the prestigious Baptist Boys High School and who are of same Egba lineage in AbeokutaOgun State (South West Nigeria). Enjoy the excerpts.

L-R; ED, Africanhub, Mrs. Oluneye Oluwole, Author, Alhaji Jamiu Abiola,  Mr. Segun Aka Basorun and Mrs. Hafsat Costello Abiola
How would you describe the book, ‘The President who never ruled’?
It is an insightful book that tells the full story of the episode of one of the most controversial Political evolution in Nigeria. It is a total book that has subjected almost everything about our present democracy to intellectual trial. In a country where history and facts are being buried and fallacy and falsehood is celebrated, the book ‘The President who never ruled’ is a reminder of the axiom which says “nothing can triumph over truth”. Truth is real, truth is constant and truth is factual. The beauty of the literature is that it is being written by an insider, Jamiu Abiola who is one of the few Nigerian citizens the country must listen to his voice.
Segun Aka Basorun salutes Jamiu Abiola's courage for writing Dad's story
Jamiu Abiola lost a father and a mother as sacrifice of democracy. His decision to write the full account of his father’s life trajectory and the politics of his lifetime adventure is a worthwhile venture. He is one of the few but privileged actors who are privy to the very principles and philosophies MKO Abiola lived for.  I want to believe he is not the only one with a lurid detail of the life and times of MKO Abiola; there are other actors who can come out and give their own account of the life and times of MKO Abiola.
The Author, Alhaji Abdul Jamiu Abiodun Abiola and other guests at the Book Reading Event
There are other players in Abiola’s life that need to come out and write about Abiola. But the son, Jamiu has taken a bold step to be the pioneer, to kick start the message of truth, the message of struggle and the message of change that we are talking about today. This change could have started in 1993, it was called Hope then. This message of change, the story must be written so that we can learn from the errors and know how to build on tomorrow’s promises. I think this is what this book has done.
The Legendary Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola
It is generally agreed that the ghost of MKO Abiola might still be hunting players of present day democracy, don’t you think the present crop of political leaders should just rise and give him his honor as a true President who won a clear election and all his rights accorded him  posthumously?
The book; 'The President Who Never Ruled'
We have to remember that all the (political) players today; if you mention their names you will see that they were still players during the time of Abiola. They were stake holders and they were parts of the process denied him his victory, they cannot appreciate the outcome of that process. They cannot, they don’t see what is to be appreciated because they are still trying to benefit. They have been benefitting and those who have not benefitted are trying to benefit from that process. So, they can never appreciate it. They are not ready to sacrifice their conscience, Abiola was a sacrifice in order for them to benefit. Until we have people who are not ready to benefit themselves but to sacrifice for Nigeria, the same story will still be told. The change we are looking for, the change we are hoping for will not be gotten. It will be elusive. And that is what we are experiencing right now. Those in power do not cherish the memory of MKO Abiola.
The Legendary Afro-Beat Musician, Fela Anikulapo Kuti
During your presentation, you said late Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s song ITT was composed and delivered against MKO because of a personal fight between FELA & MKO. Your father served as both MKO and FELA’s lawyer. Can you tell us more about the chemistry of their relationship?
Segun's legendary father, the Late Chief Alao Aka Basorun
No, I even have the documents. I was going through my father’s law books, I mean his legal properties recently and I found a copies of the original contract Fela signed and I just gave his children a month ago; all of the documents which involved contracts, monies and gratuities.
Segun Aka Basorun with his aides at the Book Reading Event organized by Africanhub
So, I saw personal letters Abiola wrote to Fela and Fela’s replies. I have the letters that MKO Abiola told him (Fela) to remove certain lyrical lines from the song Zombie which he released that year and Fela told him ‘No way’. That he was not going to remove anything from his lyrics and that nobody could make him remove a line from his lyrics.
Segun Aka Basorun delivering his portion of the book
You mean MKO and FELA had disagreements over FELA’s song, Zombie?
Yes, MKO wrote a letter to Fela asking him to change the lyrics of Zombie or else it will never be released and that they will not pay him a dime for the song and Fela said ‘no way’ that he is not changing one thing. That was the fight between him and MKO because at that time, MKO bought DECCA Africa (Fela’s Music Label). He was the owner now, and he didn’t want to extend Fela’s contract as an artiste.
Segun Aka Basorun giving a note of advice to participants as Guests looks on
So, the personal onslaught Fela did against MKO was as a result of that. So, people did not see that relationship they taught it was just because of the military establishment and MKO’s relationship with them.
So, there are lots of untold stories?
The Author of the book 'The President Who Never Ruled' Alhaji Abdul Jamiu Abiodun Abiola welcomes Segun Aka Basorun to the event
Yes. But, eventually Fela came out and said he wanted to become the president of Africa. People have forgotten that Fela wanted to be president at that time too, and that was when he had political in-roads against some of his enemies. Like MKO Abiola was an enemy to him. So, Movement of the People (MOP) with (late) Tunji Braithwaite who was bringing NAP (National Association of the People), and all those issues came strong as a force. The whole issue is that, MKO Abiola was tainted as not part of what I will call the progressives.
The Executive Director, AfricanHub, Mrs. Oluneye Oluwole welcomes Mr. Segun Aka Basorun to the Event
They saw Abiola as part of the establishment and that was why he ended up in NPN. He left UPN and joined NPN. People have forgotten that story. So, it was easy for Fela to label Abiola negatively, it was so easy because people already perceived Abiola as an establishment guy. He was seen as part of them and when Fela started abusing him, especially in this part of the world, it resonated negatively that ‘Yes, MKO is not a good Yoruba man’.
The GDA welcoming Segun Aka Basorun to the event
Because he is not part of Awolowo’s UPN. So, that is what rubbed off Abiola negatively. So, this book is setting the record straight, it is changing people’s perception about Abiola. And in talking about Abiola, you end up talking about Fela because Fela was so negative about MKO Abiola. So, that is why I had to set the records straight about Fela at the book reading.
Segun Aka Basorun with the GDA and another Media Executive
So, can we say FELA was the antagonist and MKO was the protagonist?
Yes, to an extent. You know, of course, the reason why he bought DECCA West Africa was to control Fela. He bought DECCA so that he can have control over Fela but that did not work. But it is typical, it is a typical Abiola style; the solution to that problem is to go to the institution and deal with Fela from the institution.
The GDA and a Media Executive sharing points with Segun Aka Basorun
The Year ITT (International Thief-Thief) was released what did your father tell Fela as the lawyer to both parties?
Well, I didn’t think my father would have told Fela anything because you know Beko (Ransome Kuti) told me before he died, he said if there is one thing he will never forget it was the rare courage of Fela. I think my father was equally as radical as Fela was. When Fela was taking the symbolic coffin of his late mum to the State House at Dodan Barracks, my father followed them. So, Fela was not aware that my father was in the procession. When he looked back and saw him, he said ‘Ha, Egbon, you are following us? If they arrest us who is going to bail us?; You are the lawyer now, you can’t follow us, no, no, no, no, you have to stay back’. The reason why I am saying all these today is that, in this radicalism that we love, that we cherish in the South West which has almost unfortunately died from the likes of the Fayemis, it is not even the Falanas or the Akeles that can bring it back.
Veteran Journalist Biodun Kuponiyi and the GDA speaks with Segun Aka Basorun
We don’t have that sincere activism any more. We lost that during that era. Back to your question on ITT you see, Fela released ITT as a concept. He released that song to talk about the multinational companies, what I call the conglomerates because at that time, we only started having multi-nationals worldwide. The Lever Brothers which was renamed Unilever, they were multinationals. They were the first called multi-national corporations but nowadays, we have multi-many but they were very few in the world in those days. ITT was one of such.
Segun Aka Basorun explains a point to the GDA and a media executive
So, if you work for such companies, they see you as an outsider that you are working for the big goons who are going to control things from outside. ITT was seen as a multi-national who is not a friend to the masses and Abiola represented ITT. So, it was easy for Fela to now attack this conglomerate and the symbol of this multinational conglomerate is MKO Abiola who represented Africa. Of course, in the era when you were talking about, it was an era when Pan Africanism was very high the issue of white and black and racial segregation was very high. The issue of the rich, white countries who are controlling and exploiting or neo-colonialism was very high; to talk about conglomerate, to talk about multinationals like ITT was very attractive for the masses. Masses loved that message. So, of course, Fela used it heavily to admonish MKO Abiola and tarnished his image negatively.
Late General Sani Abacha...Locked up MKO for 4 Years
So, these perspectives are very important and they are very salient issues that the reviewer of the book wouldn’t know. The reviewer of the book is a 28 years old guy. So, he may not have the history or the perspective to be able to put those interplay that was happening worldwide into play, to understand why those perceptions were built the way it has been built. But I am happy they are getting involved and people are getting a better understanding of the past.
Ex-Nigeria's No 2, General Oladipupo Diya....'He couldn't save his kinsman, MKO while serving his master, General Sani Abacha
And it is quite unfortunate that we are not taking history as a primary subject any longer. History is elusive in schools, so, people don’t understand the past. We don’t know who we were any more. It is part of the thing the author mentioned that we can’t understand ourselves anymore; how do we now re-orient ourselves to become smart enough to be thinking. So, it is a long way to go and we need to start the journey now.
Eventually, MKO and FELA met, and FELA said, ‘Abiola is my brother’. Were you privy to that meeting?
Segun Aka Basorun signs arrival register
Yes, funny enough my father was the initiator of that historic meeting. Funny enough, I remember that day very well, my father had the microphone and he insisted that Fela and Abiola must end their rift and they hugged each other. They did; I remember because it was somewhere either at  Eko Hotel or Federal Palace Hotel in Lagos and it was in the late 80s, it was a big event and that was the day Abiola and Fela hugged themselves. My dad was on the microphone and he now called that they should have a truce and they followed it.
The GDA of Asabeafrika shares a rare pose with Jamiu Abiola with the book 'The President Who Never Ruled'
You know (MKO) Abiola was my neighbor too; he was so close to me. I grew up with everyone of his kids; with Lekan, Agboola, Kola, all of us grew up together. Jamiu, Hafsat and all of them were junior to us, they are ‘awon aburo wa’ but we all grew up together it was a beautiful experience. So, I know them, we are very close and till date I cherish the experience.
L-R: Author, 'The President Who Never Ruled', Jamiu Abiola, President Yoweri Musoveni of Uganda and Author's brother, Lekan Abiola

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