Tuesday, May 8, 2007

The Afro Beat Remembers... M.K.O.

"M.K.O. na him we want o!" A number of people have suggested MKO now, and even though we were reticent (for what we thought to be obvious reasons) to give in to their requests, we have decided to let the rest of The Afro Beat decide whether he is worth remembering and what he should be remembered for.

From Wikipedia...

Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola was a Yoruba businessman, publisher and politician, though he was an accountant by training. His early career was with ITT (ironic when you consider the Fela song), whereby he later rose to the position of vice-president, Africa and Middle-east.

In the presidential elections of June 12, 1993, Abiola was the candidate of the Social Democratic Party (his running mate was Alhaji Baba Gana Kingibe) and overwhelmingly defeated his northern (Hausa) rival, Bashir Tofa of the National Republican Convention. However, the election was annulled by Ibrahim Babangida, and subsequent events led to General Sani Abacha seizing power later that year.

MKO is believed by many to have won Nigeria's freest and fairest (presidential) election ever held - June 12, 1993.

Abiola died in captivity of a heart attack on July 7, 1998. Some of his supporters claim that his death – immediately following that of his captor, Sani Abacha – was masterminded by western powers through the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) to level the political playing field in Nigeria.

Moshood Kashimawo Abiola is an icon of democracy in Nigeria. He was the first Southerner to cross the political bridge by aligning otherwise opposing political forces from the North and South to form a political coalition in 1993's election. Many Southerners had earlier attempted this but without much success.

From journalist, Reuben Abati...

The annulment of the Presidential election of June 12, 1993, which Abiola had won to all intents and purposes transfigured him into a national icon for the expression of grievances and rebellion against the excesses of the military elite, and even more importantly, the limitations and disconnections at the heart of the Nigerian state. M.K.O. Abiola became at that moment, the hero of the masses.
It was a task in retrospect, for which he was hardly prepared, but he found in the task a challenge which he willingly embraced. If Abiola had wished, he could have abandoned the struggle, but he had become hostage to the popular will, to the very mandate which he insisted upon and he found himself on a lonely road where every indicator pointed in only one direction. Herein lay the substance of his heroism: His resolve that is, to turn himself into a sacrificial lamb, and thereby atone for whatever may have been his own personal excesses.

From journalist, Seyi Oduyela...

I think the earlier we separate the person of Bashorun Abiola from the real issue of June 12 the better for us. June 12, to me is greater than any individual. It does not represent Bashorun Abiola, no it does not. It was a day Nigerians said SABENA- Such A Bitter Experience Never Again. But unfortunately, we have not come over it because we still mix sentiment with the truth.

(Please Note: the information presented in this section included unconfirmed allegations widely believed to be true among some Nigerians in journalism (Mr Oduyela included)...however, The Afro Beat does not claim these to be grounded in facts.

•In 1978 he was at the Constituent Assembly where he walked out because the likes of Baba Awolowo and others refused to include Sharia in the Nigerian constitution at the Federal level. It is on record that he did not sign the constitution of 1979 because of this.

•Unconfirmed reports speculate that MKO ALLEGEDLY financed and supported the coup that toppled President Shehu Shagari in 1983, as well as the bloody coup that brought Yoweri Museveni to power in Uganda.

•He became more visible during Ibrahim Babangida's 8 years of misrule. He was seen to be an astute defender of Babangida's policies until after the annulment of June 12, 1993 elections.

MKO's Legacy

In our opinion, the pivotal contribution MKO made to Nigeria was not only through his political career, but through the people he left behind.

Several of his wives and daughters are still on the scene, perpetuating his legacy through laudable humanitarian organisations.

His wife, Kudirat Abiola, was murdered during a demonstration for the release of her husband in 1996.

In her honour, his daughter Hafsat Abiola founded the Kudirat Initiative for Democracy (KIND) and became a democracy activist. KIND sponsors leadership programmes for young women leaders that it hopes will be the new generation of pro-democracy and people-centred development in Nigeria.


M.K.O. Abiola lives in the hearts of millions of Nigerian men and women for various reasons, and today, The Afro Beat Remembers his legacy...and lets YOU DECIDE.


Kome said...

I like that both sides of the coin were presented...and I don't know much about Abiola other than what has been put up here and little tidbits from around. Nevertheless, it seems to me that he is remembered primarily because he won the elections and didn't get a chance to fulfill his term.

We should then ask ourselves, is this enough to look to someone as a credible and honorable leader?

Or are we just imagining what we hope and wished he could have done had the elections not be anulled?

. said...

Great stuff. I doubt if there will be anyone who has not heard of him. He was a friend to my late father. In fact, he introduced my dad to IBB. Guess what, my popsi ran! I wish his foundation, Hafsat and all those he left behing the very best.

Anonymous said...

@ Kome. I think you said it right. Some of those 'Did you know?s' were pretty surprising at least but I'm sure every president in every country that has ever been voted in and done good work probably has some 'Did you know?s' that the voters did not know at the time of the elections. Just the idea that we could choose for OVERWHELMINGLY choose for ourselves, freely and fairly, who we wanted to rule us was enough to lift the country and unite it like never before.

Yes we will never know what would have happened should he have been president, but we should take advantage of the unknown and use it to establish ideals that will set the foundations on which we can build our nation's democracy.

Abosede said...

Abiola should be remembered not because he would have been the greatest, and fairest of leaders Nigeria has ever had (because we will never know).He should be remembered because of his involvement with the June 12 elections, his incarceration, the silencing of all those who stood up to fight the injustice meted out by the military govt. The series of events that followed his victory in the June 12 elections is an extremely necessary reminder of what went wrong with Nigeria, and how we went from a point of possible turnaround to sliding along the downward spiral. Till this very day we are still spiraling downwards.

MKO was hardly perfect, but then again there are few men of great influence without flaws and multiple closets full of skeletons. Nigeria did not need a messiah, they needed a man who could lead in a democratic environment and allow the country to detoxify from the effect of long-standing military rule. I no longer look to world leaders for perfection; I believe one should look to God for that. We as humans are flawed, just look at the events surrounding the leaders of the world powers in the past few years. What we needed was for the power to go back to the hands of the people, to be able to choose who led them (whether he/she was mostly good or mostly bad).

MKO was indeed a "sacrificial lamb". His imprisonment and death, shows us how we as a country failed ourselves, reminds us of our weaknesses, and that there are some things worth fighting for.

quincy said...

OK I was gonna keep quite b4, but this post is erroneous and not at all current.

At least it's not as annoying as your nonsensical post on The Great MKO Abiola that was riddled with so many contrived and fictitious facts ( take note wikipedia is not a reliable info source, nor is gist)- for example , the claim that HE- Abiola funded the Buhari Coup- a palace and bloodless coup , that was partly a result of the disillusionment with corrupt civilian politicians, partly also because of the aforementioned politicians unwittingly assigning too much power to the Military and armed forces, logical then as they were trying to avoid a repeat of 1966, and also in their bid to quell the opposition and keep suppress any civilian uprising. My point being, an army that was well funded by the government, only needed to turn the GUN in the opposite direction and POWER was theirs. This is exactly what happened. The subsequent IBB coup was simple Mutiny because Buhari was too strict and the Boys (top Milt. brass) were not eating as well as they were under SHAGARI, hence the IBB largesse that followed (putting it simply). All that was needed was a MOTIVE and convincing the fellow CULT members of the Nigerian Army no Civilian Consent, or FUNDING necessary. That is done post consolidation of power- when those needing to be silenced / killed have been dealt with (Machiavelli 101/ Game theory 100). Then all comply, hence the Civilian/ successful business man’s term AGIP – Any Government in Power. Abiola met most of the Army men he considered friends while working for ITT in Ibadan . Ibadan being the site of the largest Army Garrison in Nigeria at the time. Business men, the elite and army became friends, as the rich/ up and coming needed security for Lorries with goods, and personal security, and the army liked money. Other prominent members of the Ibadan Fraternity include Mike Adenuga, Oba Otudeko, & Arisekola Alao.

ABIOLA being greater than all these men put together, as he donated heavily to various charities all across Nigeria, funded many faith schools, single handedly sponsored sports at grass root level to international level all across Africa – my Tunisian friend knows Abiola as he went to an Abiola funded soccer academy in Tunis- for men and women- amongst numerous other things.

Such was the extent of this Man’s greatness that I was irritated that instead of Eulogizing him, you guys decided to focus on the negative. On the whole I’m sure most will agree HE has more POSITIVES than negatives. I am not saying banish objectivity, but if you’re going to criticize any man, especially a dead man please make sure you get your fact s right Bitchy. Abacha is there if you need a name to soil. I was peeved because people demanded HE be remembered, but He wasn’t done any Justice by that post at all. Especially seeing as you showed a lack of depth and concern for the subject matter, as there is so much to write on Abiola’s great deeds you instead focus on his daughter’s laudable yet tiny efforts in comparison to Her Father’s I suggest you remove or revise the post with TRUTHS.

Talk about digressing ,…… Anyways, the error in this recent post is that there is in fact a Lagos Light Railway project recently commissioned by OBJ see http://www.nairaland.com/nigeria/topic-53791.0.html, furthermore other mass transit projects such as commercial Ferry schemes a la Staten Island have also been initiated. The problem with Lagos is one of mammoth Logistical problems (which would give even Einstein a headache) as a result of many years of planning neglect, coupled with The fact it’s an AD state ; ) and also sadly to say we are in a ‘Democracy’ now and what happened in Maroko to create VI extension, Lekki etc would be tough to pull off in similar areas of Lagos.

Furthermore, the reason why Abuja is getting all the cheese is because WE are currently bidding to host the Commonwealth Games- Abuja 2014 and subsequently Olympics. So the investment will definitely pay for itself in the Long Run with all the tourist revenue expected. I’ m sure you’ll agree Lagos is nowhere near as ready for such events-Especially with the crap security in the state. Although we should all question the logic behind all these White Elephant projects – stadiums, space programmes, etc when basic Water infrastructure we can’t boast. It’s obvious that Obasanjo and his advisers are admirers of USSR Stalin.

Please note I’m not an Abiola , and I’m a Lagosian . I just don’t like the idea of knocking Good men in death. Also I would like to commend you blog I think It’s definitely necessary and well formatted, with good ideas just try and make sure you follow through and stick with it. Well done indeed, on the whole you guys are doing something positive so please do continue………. I look forward to more. God Bless