Wednesday, 29 June 2016

How MKO became Wealthy & Polygamous

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MKO Abiola; The Man who broke the Record for ITT in Nigeria

Within the next seven years Moshood became one of Africa’s richest businessmen. According to rumors, he was even the richest African who had ever lived. Hard work undoubtedly contributed to his success but it would be foolhardy to ignore the fact that luck was a major factor as well. He was at the right company at the right time and anything that happened to him during that period seemed to be the right thing. Securing additional contracts for ITT was easier than Moshood had expected. The strategy that he had promised his management that he would use once he became the company’s managing director paid off sooner than he had anticipated.
His new friends in the military believed that they had to help his company because Moshood had told them that the nationalist policies of the government were what had encouraged ITT to make him the managing director of the company, despite not being a foreign expatriate.

“What choice did they have when the likes of worthy leaders like yourselves had let them realize that the word independence should not just be a pronouncement, but an established reality in industry, and not just in governance?” He said such things to top military men in an effort to present ITT as a western company that had grown to believe in Africa’s people and not just its market. With time Moshood became more convinced that this was a fact, which made his strategy even more convincing to the Nigerian military government. Eventually it paid off in a very big way and ITT acquired a new status that was accompanied by contracts that were even outside the company’s field of specialization. And Moshood ensured that they were executed honestly because his good name was at stake.

MKO Abiola; the Jolly Fellow

These were indeed good times for the company, but the best were yet to come. And it came in 1975, when General Murtala Mohammed, the former colonel who Moshood had argued with in 1969, became Nigeria’s military ruler. He and Moshood had become very good friends by then and it was during his reign that Moshood was able to secure a massive contract to supply telephone lines to the whole of Nigeria.
But unfortunately these successes had caused a rift between Moshood and the ITT management. Trying to leverage on them, Moshood had tried in vain to get the company to allocate half of the company’s shares in Nigeria to him. He believed that he deserved nothing short of that as his rightful compensation, but management turned him down repeatedly.

“He was stunned by her beauty. He stared at the woman whom he later described as the most astonishing person he had ever seen in his entire life.
The only thing that was ordinary about her, according to him, was her moderate height. Everything else was outstanding. Especially her eyes that he said sparkled like emeralds, while her fair skin was so clear that it reminded him of transparent lakes”

Moshood finally got fed up and formed a company called RCN. He signed an agreement with a strong technical partner abroad because he wanted RCN to compete with ITT in the provision of minor communication equipment like walkie-talkies. In a short period of time his efforts paid off and RCN secured a three million dollar contract from the Nigerian government. But that contract figure somehow became thirty million dollars by the time the information was leaked to ITT headquarters. The company management panicked and summoned him to its headquarters. Another round of tough negotiations began and ended with Moshood’s ownership of 49 percent of ITT Nigeria.
That was how Moshood, in his thirties, became one of Africa’s richest men. His orientation changed completely afterward and his main interest became a quest for an ideological meaning to his life. By then he had his philanthropy. At first it was on a personal level. He bought houses for friends, paid school and medical bills for strangers, and was generous to relatives. But gradually he came to feel that this was not enough so he began helping institutions as well. That was when he cultivated a habit that would eventually draw him into politics. He began analyzing Nigerian leaders and their policies in order to learn from their successes and their failures.

The Author & The GDA in rare pose with the book, 'The President Who Never Ruled'

The first person to fall under his radar was his good friend, General Murtala Mohammed. Moshood could not find a fault in his style of governance. Speaking of one of the general’s policies that he admired, Moshood once said, “The man has proven that he was sincere when he announced that inflation is a major enemy of the state. That is why he keeps cutting government expenditure. Nigerians have to support him”
He was reacting to criticism about the determination of the military leader to reduce recurrent government expenses. Another ideology that Moshood admired General Mohammed for was the General’s conviction about the paramount role that the private sector must play in the advancement of the Nigerian economy. But, at the same time, he wanted the general to increase his efforts in making more Nigerians aware about the importance of the private sector in order to avoid any public opposition to the privatization program that he knew that the general would soon roll out.
It was clear back then that Moshood had become a philosopher merchant or an ideological entrepreneur with a keen interest in philanthropy rather than just a regular businessman concerned only about profit. This was the genesis of the bridge that always linked him to politics till it eventually transported him into it. Moshood truly believed that he was lucky to have the listening ear of a military president who was leading the country the right way, and who would make it easy for him, Moshood, to participate in politics when the time was right. But on the thirteenth of February, less than eight months after General Mohammed had become the military president of Nigeria; Moshood woke up one day to learn that he had been assassinated on the way to the mosque for Friday prayers.

MKO Abiola; The Star Child

…And MKO meets KUDI…
During this period in his life, aside from developing a keen interest in politics, Moshood also became a polygamist. One day, during a visit to a friend who worked in another company, he saw a woman in an office near the building entrance. He was stunned by her beauty. He stared at the woman whom he later described as the most astonishing person he had ever seen in his entire life.
The only thing that was ordinary about her, according to him, was her moderate height. Everything else was outstanding. Especially her eyes that he said sparkled like emeralds, while her fair skin was so clear that it reminded him of transparent lakes.
Kudirat Abiola, the Beauty MKO never let escape his eyes
He walked towards her office. He was nervous. The closer he came, the sharper her attraction became. What surprised him the most was that she was unaware of the effect she was having on him. She was busy with her work, looking at some files with her innocently attractive eyes, and did not even know he existed. But yet, she was all that mattered to him at that moment.
He looked at her fingers and smiled when he noticed that she was not wearing a marriage ring. He finally announced his arrival. “Good morning Miss! I apologize for not knowing the name of such a glamorous woman”

The GDA in a hearty chat with the Author, Abdul-Jamiu Abiodun Abiola

She looked up briefly. She obviously did not recognize him so she ignored him and turned her attention back to the file in front of her. Hoping that he had not offended her, Moshood quickly added, “I am sorry for barging in on you like this and, of course, for wasting your time. I just wanted to say hello”.
There was still no reaction. He decided to go on and keep his appointment with his friend. He quietly left her office, hoping that she would call him back, but she did not. Knowing that he would be unable to get her out of his mind, his plan was to find out all he could about her from his friend and once he reached his office, after exchanging greetings, he could barely wait. “If my enemies knew that I had a friend like you, they would rejoice”. His friend did not get a chance to respond. “If you were indeed a good friend, you would have told me that Nigeria’s most mesmerizing woman is working in this building and with this company”. Seeing the puzzled look on his friend’s face, Moshood added, “I am referring to the very light-skinned woman who works in an office right next to the entrance. That woman has the face of a baby and the disposition of an angel. She looks foreign. Is she part Indian?” His friend laughed. “I know who you mean. It must be Kudirat” He paused before adding. “Come to think of it, she does look foreign, but not Indian. More like a Somalian. But on a more serious note, she is Nigerian and must be even Yoruba because her last name is Adeyemi”

Moshood became eager to know more about her. He asked his friend a lot of questions but did not learn much more. “I don’t know anything about her other than what I have told you already. I just returned from a three-week leave and she had not yet started working here when I left” Surprised by Moshood’s curiosity, he asked, “By the way, aren’t you married already? Don’t put me in trouble with your wife”
Moshood laughed. “Of course I am married. And I am also a Muslim, so I can have four wives. Some say even more. Now if you really want to stay out of trouble, keep that in mind” Both men laughed then his host asked him teasingly. “Don’t you have to go to Mecca before doing that?”
They both burst out laughing again then spoke about other matters. After an hour, Moshood left. But on his way out, he deliberately peeked inside Kudirat’s office. Tempted, he went to the door and cracked it slightly open. She seemed to be on her way out. Avoiding eye contact with her, he stated timidly. “I wanted to apologize for the way that I entered your office earlier. I don’t know what came over me”
“You again?; What is your problem?” This was the first time he had heard her voice. He panicked but before he could respond, she spoke again. “Please step out of my office”.
Moshood was nervous but remained adamant. “Can I just have five minutes of your time? Not more, I promise”.  He did not wait for her to agree. He sat in an empty chair in front of her desk. Trying to appear at ease, as if he was in his own office, he looked at her and confidently uttered, “Please feel at home. Why are you standing?”

Dignatories @ the Launching of 'The President who Never Ruled'

That was how Moshood and Kudirat met. He would visit her many more times over a span of three years and discovered that they had a lot in common. They were both from Ogun state and had both grown up in polygamous families. Neither of them was born into a wealthy family and they had both helped their parents with their businesses when they were children. Furthermore Kudirat, just like Moshood, had been the head girl in her secondary school.
For Moshood it was love at first sight. Kudirat, on the other hand, grew to love him with time when she felt certain that it would be hard for her to find another man like him who had the humility, principles, and great intellect that she had always admired in her father. Moshood and Kudirat got married and she became his second wife and the woman who bore the most of children for him.
(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 Read How OBJ, Shagari & Others broke MKO’s heart in our next post on this blog)

Gbenga Dan Asabe

Africa's Number One Celebrity Encounter Blog


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