Wednesday, 31 August 2016

The Abuja Search Gamble by Jamiu & Lekan Abiola for MKO

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The Author, Jamiu Abiola with brother, Lekan (r) in a presidential encounter with President Yoweri Musoveni of Uganda

After we left, I became somewhat cynical about the journey. But somehow that changed on the way. Nigeria’s beautiful landscape, which I was seeing for the first time at such close range, was what must have brightened my mood. This was my first time traveling such a long distance by road and it opened my eyes to a Nigeria that I had never known existed.

As we drove, we saw villages with similar-looking huts that were beautifully designed. People sat in front of those huts. They were on straw mats spread across the ground and did not seem bothered by the burning sun. Then there were glamorous churches and mosques, mostly painted either white or yellow, surrounded by people who had just come out of them or were patiently waiting to go in. I had never believed that Nigerians were the happiest people on earth, as many people are fond of saying, but after this trip, I started having second thoughts. There were also beautiful fields along the way and what surprised me the most was that even though they were mostly empty, they seemed very well maintained. I wondered where those who were responsible for their maintenance were. Perhaps in other fields in another part of town, I concluded.

MKO's Scion, Lekan Abiola joined his brother and Author of the book, Jamiu Abiola to serch for Dad inside Abacha's gulag
“The man looked surprised. That was when I realized that he was not aware of the real purpose of our visit. It took him a while to respond, which gave me the impression that he would not have allowed us to see him if he had known why we wanted to see him”

The sun was very bright that day. We watched Fulani nomads as they walked cheerfully with their cattle on the road. Little children appeared as well every now and then. Many of them were selling items of food, ranging from fruits to bread, and some were not selling anything at all. They just gazed at us and kept waving with their tiny hands until we were out of sight. Once in a while we stopped to pray and stretch our legs.
General Sani Abacha...Played 419 on MKO Abiola
We were always warmly received. The inhabitants always believed for some reason that their town was our final destination. On one occasion my driver laughed then said that he wished that we were indeed at our final destination and when I asked him why, he pointed at a beautiful woman. I told him jokingly that there would be no more stops.

The Book of MKO according to Jamiu Abiola

Even the old man behaved differently. He spoke modestly and seemed repentant. I decided to forgive him and in that atmosphere, it was an easy thing to do. Before we reached Abuja, we were all joking and laughing. But once the driver announced that we were in Abuja, I became tense. That was after I had looked at my watch and saw that it was already 9:30 p.m. We were half an hour late for our appointment. I felt like a passenger who was about to miss an important flight.
The Author; 'The President Who Never Ruled' Jamiu Abiola says 'The Best legacy i owe my father is to write this book'
After exactly twenty-five minutes, we were in front of a massive white house with black gates. We parked outside next to some soldiers who scrutinized us suspiciously. The old man hurried out of the car and approached them. They spoke to him in low voices. We could hardly hear them from the car till one of the soldiers shouted at the old man, “I have told you already that your name is not on our list. It is because of your age that I have not yet slapped you”.

MKO Abiola...The Star Boy from Egba Land
My heart sank. I was back in reality. The old man returned to the car reluctantly. He was embarrassed but tried to look as if he was in control of the situation. He pulled out his phone and made a phone call then stepped out of the car as if he did not want us to hear his conversation. I quietly sneaked behind him and listened carefully. That was when I received my second shock of the day. The old man was not the link to the government official; he was merely a link to another link. Maybe there was even a third link. My head began to spin. I did not bother eavesdropping anymore and quietly returned to the car. I did not tell anyone else about what I had just learned so as not to sadden anyone further.
MKO Abiola the Enigma
After a while the old man was forced by the soldiers to end the call and we were instructed at gunpoint to leave the vicinity for security reasons, an order that we hurriedly carried out for obvious reasons. “We should go to the hotel and get some rest”. My brother sounded cheerful as he said that in an attempt to ease the tension that seemed to be suffocating all of us in the vehicle.
Kudirat Abiola...Very disturbed with events in her husband's political career

“Things will go well. It is even now that I am more convinced about that than before”. The old man tried to feign confidence before resorting to another Yoruba proverb. “After hardship has gone, relief is what is next” After a while his phone rang just as he had uttered those words. He answered and after a few seconds, he said. “Thank you! That is exactly what we will do”. He dropped the line and tapped the driver on the shoulder before saying, “Take us back to where we are coming from. Drive as fast as you can!”
MKO & Kudirat Abiola; First Nigerian Couple to die for Democracy
The driver complied and as the car sped through the night, I began thinking of my father. He was somewhere in this town I said to myself. It even crossed my mind that I would look for him in every building in Abuja that night if I was sure that he would have been left in the same location till I find him. We got to the house after ten minutes. As we approached, the gates were flung open as if the guards had seen our car from the inside with a camera.
Jamiu Abiola wants the World to read about the true story of his dad
We were directed by security personnel to turn in a certain direction. We drove all the way down and by the time we got to the end, we parked and got out of the car. Another soldier directed us to a pathway and after a three-minute walk; a maid received us and led us through a glass door into a massive sitting room: On the walls there were pictures of Nigeria’s military leaders, looking like mafia bosses, and family pictures of our host. Instead of sitting as we were directed to do, we all remained standing, staring at the pictures when all of a sudden there was a loud voice from behind. “You don’t have to stand to see the pictures”. We all turned back and saw our host wearing gym clothes. “It actually makes sense to sit down because from the angle of where the chairs are, you have a better view of everything in the living room”.

The old man became excited and introduced us to the man, one after the other; then, we all sat down before he started making some strange comments. “Here they are, sir. I am glad to be the one to bring them. It was a lot of work convincing them to come”.  He caught his breath. “One of them even described you as a tiger because of your strong character, sharp mind, and powerful will. But I told him not to worry because behind your firmness, there is nothing but kindness. I told him, you can ask him. I told him”
I was speechless. Where did all these lies come from? I had never heard such nonsense in my life. But our host seemed to have another opinion. He smiled as if he was listening to sweet music. Feeling very uncomfortable, I decided to speak immediately. “Sir, I am pleased to meet you. It is kind of you to receive us. In fact I am-” .
General Abacha's 2nd in command, Genere Oladipupo Diya (His Hands were tight on MKO Abiola's Case)
Our host did not allow me to say more than that. He avoided looking at me or my brother and started talking about my father. “He should have walked away from politics. Government was ready to compensate him”.
The man looked guilty and that was probably what kept him ranting. He was an important part of the government but he was distancing himself from it that evening. The more he spoke the more he sounded like an outsider. “Even your mother’s case- look at how this government is handling it. It does not even know the proper way to ...”
The old man stopped him from completing his sentence, which infuriated me. He thanked the man once again for his reception then brought up my father’s issue. “I know that through you, they can see their father. How soon can that be possible, sir?”

The man looked surprised. That was when I realized that he was not aware of the real purpose of our visit. It took him a while to respond, which gave me the impression that he would not have allowed us to see him if he had known why we wanted to see him. “I can’t be of much help in that regard because many people in government have started pointing accusing fingers at me. They say I am supporting Moshood Abiola”. His voice was shaking. “By the time I table your request to General Abacha, he will finally conclude that I am a spy”.
Dignatories @ the Launching of 'The President who Never Ruled'
Seconds passed and when he noticed how devastated we were, he quickly added, “Come to think of it, you don’t even need me. There is a police officer in Abuja who is in charge of your father. He is a nice man and can be of help. Try to see him and tell him you saw me”
He wrote the man’s name and address on a piece of paper, which he gave to me. My brother thanked him. There was no point spending more time there so we decided to leave. But the old man had not given up yet. Once again he praised our host continuously then began putting pressure on him to play a more direct role in helping us to see our father. Our host shook his head and seemed irritated. He rose to his feet and entered a room then returned with an envelope full of money. He gave it to the old man and added, “This is for them just in case they need anything while they are in Abuja”
My brother and I considered his gesture an insult but we kept that to ourselves. Once again, my brother thanked him and told him that we would see the police officer the following day. As we left his house, I realized that I was right to have been pessimistic about being able to see my father.

(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 Sani Abacha; the Paranoid & Elusive Dictator who kept Nigeria in economic toilet in our next post on this blog)

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