Monday, 13 June 2016

Why I wrote the true story of MKO Abiola’s life — Son, Jamiu

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The Author Jamiu Abiodun Abiola Speaks to the GDA at the Public Presentation of 'The President that Never Ruled'
In November 1998, I was sitting in the airport in Abuja, Nigeria where I was forced to wait for more than four hours after bad weather had caused a delay of my flight to Lagos. Once the announcement of the delay was made, the view before me became chaotic, as passengers rained curses down on the airline officials. It was right there in the midst of all the disarray that I witnessed what I had never thought would happen after the death of my father, Moshood Abiola, just four months earlier.

Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola
Five people were divided into two groups. They were involved in a heated debate over whether my father, a man who had sacrificed his life and fortune for democracy in Nigeria, deserved to be called a hero or not. I sat quietly, wondering whether the scene in front of me was real. After all, my father had won Nigeria’s presidential elections and the whole world knew it. He had also died in his battle against the military that had annulled his victory and everyone knew it.
 Both sides were very aggressive. One group called him a messiah. The other group labeled him a self-serving businessman. The debate had begun when the leader of what I would later call the pro-Abiola group, a stout man with a bald head and a long mustache, declared firmly, “If! am to be honest with you guys, I am not looking forward to the military transition to civilian rule planned by our military president, Abdulsalami, because there would be no Moshood Abiola at the end of the process. He has died and taken our dreams away with him”.

Late General Sani Abacha....The Man who Locked MKO up

He had barely finished his sentence when a tall, pregnant woman with long hair and bulky eyes, shouted at him, “Do you really believe that a transition that would have produced Moshood Abiola is what we need? Is that what you really think?”
The man looked alarmed. It was as if she had uttered something blasphemous. She did not give him a chance to reply before she continued. “My brother, open your eyes and you will see that the purpose of this transition is to find somebody who is the opposite of Moshood Abiola. Somebody who did not get rich through shady government contracts”
IBB…The Man who annulled Abiola’s election

“Have you forgotten the telephone scam that a popular Yoruba singer sang about? What is his name again?” She paused for a few seconds. “His name is Fela and he sang of how Moshood Abiola was paid millions of dollars by the Nigerian government to supply telephone lines but he did not execute the contract. Why will such a man ever dream of ruling Nigeria?” 

Another man interrupted her. Despite his tiny voice, he supported her opinion aggressively. “She is right. She has said it all. All that man wanted was personal glory. He had become famous and rich so the presidency was next. What a greedy man!”

The Author of the book; The President Who Never Ruled; 'I wrote My Father's Story to set Political Records Straight

The pregnant woman smiled. She looked surprised. It was as if she had not expected his support. She became less aggressive. Looking at the man who had spoken well of Moshood Abiola, she gently added, “Have you forgotten the telephone scam that a popular Yoruba singer sang about? What is his name again?” She paused for a few seconds. “His name is Fela and he sang of how Moshood Abiola was paid millions of dollars by the Nigerian government to supply telephone lines but he did not execute the contract. Why will such a man ever dream of ruling Nigeria?”
Another man, who had been quiet all along, stood up. He looked as if he was about to attack the woman. He had long Afro hair and wore very thick glasses. He moved very close to her before he spoke. “If you are an educated woman then shame on you! You made such weighty allegations against a man who died fighting for a mandate that we all gave him and why?” He paused. He was breathing heavily. “You took the words of Fela as facts. The words of a man who was known to sing and dance almost naked on stage? Did Fela ever present any proof against Moshood Abiola? Did he even reveal the source of his information?”

Fela Anikulapo Kuti...Accused MKO of Stealing ITT Money. But Jamiu Abiola disagree with him

The others begged him to calm down but their attempts were in vain. “In that case, if Fela says that the baby in your stomach belongs to your husband’s best friend without showing any proof, I will believe him right away so that you know how it feels to be a victim of your actions”        .
At that point the others got upset with him and the woman looked as if she was about to cry. The man who spoke first decided to intervene. Looking at the woman, he said. “Don’t be offended, my sister, but if Moshood Abiola was guilty as you said then the two military presidents—General Babangida, who annulled his electoral victory, and General Abacha, who locked him up for claiming it—would  have exposed the facts. After all, they needed justification for the injustice they had done to him”
There was a long silence. The woman looked rattled. Was she about to change her mind about my father? I stood up and left because I was too upset to care. I walked away from them to another side of the airport. I roamed around for a while, thinking that I would calm down but my heart refused to stop beating fast. Looking out of the window after almost an hour, I saw a thin ray of light and that was when it dawned on me that I should write a book about my father. I had never written a book before, but as a linguist I had always wanted to be a writer. The idea instantly took on a life of its own and I became determined to achieve it.

The Author Jamiu Abiodun Abiola & Sister, Hafsat during Launching of 'The President Who Never Ruled'

A book about my father’s amazing story, in the form of a novel, would shed light on how he and my mother, Kudirat Abiola, along with many other patriotic Nigerians, brought a lasting democracy to Nigeria. I wanted to set the record straight and give people the opportunity to judge my father based on facts, especially after watching General Babangida, the major culprit in the annulment of his election, ridiculing the tragedy that cost both my parents their lives when he stated in Thisday Newspapers on August, 2014 that it was Nigerians who frustrated the transition to democratic rule. Recently Professor Nwosu, the head of the National Electoral Commission at the time of my father’s election, declared that my father had won the presidential election. I wish he had made that declaration then, even from abroad, because that would have enabled my father to get the foreign support that he badly needed in his fight against the Nigerian military government.
To write this book, I relied on a number of things, primary of which were the midnight conversations that I had with my father three times when he came to the United States before he declared himself as president, my recollections of things he personally told me before that, the details about him I learned from my mother, his media interviews, his speeches around the world, and information I gathered from some of his friends and aides.
This book is the complete and true story about my father, the president who never ruled, and the man who made it possible for other democratically elected people to rule and legislate in Nigeria without military interference since 1999.

(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 IBB asked MKO to run for Presidency in 1993 in our next post on this blog)

Gbenga Dan Asabe

Africa's Number One Celebrity Encounter Blog


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