10 Quick Facts About M.K.O Abiola
Twenty-four years ago on June 12, the world stood still for Nigeria to witness an unprecedented event; an election that would be dubbed the freest and fairest.
While the result of the election proved that Moshood Kashimawo Abiola of the Social Democratic Party defeated his rival, Bashir Tofa of the National Republican Convention, the decision was rescinded and the election annulled.
What compounded the already heated controversy was the death of the politician which was viewed as an attempt to stamp out democracy from Nigeria.
As memories of the late politician live on, here are some facts you may find interesting.
Apart from his political reputation, Mr Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, (M.K.O Abiola) as he was often referred to, was also a businessman, publisher and an aristocrat of the Yoruba Egba clan.
1. At the young age of nine, he started his first business selling firewood. He would wake up at dawn to go to the forest, gather firewood and sell before going to school. He did this to support his old father and siblings.
2. He started his professional life in 1956 as a bank clerk with Barclays Bank in Ibadan, South-West Nigeria.
3. He was voted twice as the international businessman of the year and received numerous honorary doctorates from universities all over the world.
4. The was known for his charisma and for being a man of the people, a prominent social activist, as well as a democratic freedom fighter. Following this reputation, the Congressional Black Caucus of the United States of America till date, salute him as a hero in the global pursuit to preserve the history and the legacy of the African diaspora.
5. He married many wives including Simibiat Atinuke Shoaga in 1960, Kudirat Olayinka Adeyemi in 1973, Adebisi Olawunmi Oshin in 1974 among others, and fathered many children.
6. His involvement in politics started early on in life when he joined the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC) at age 19.
7. He went ahead to run for the presidency in 1993 and is till date widely regarded as the presumed winner of the inconclusive election since no official final results were announced.
8. In 1994 he declared himself the lawful president of Nigeria in the Epetedo area of Lagos Island, an area mainly populated by (Yoruba) Lagos Indigenes, after which he was accused of treason and arrested on the orders of military President, General Sani Abacha, who sent 200 police vehicles to bring him into custody.
9. He died in 1998, after being denied victory when the entire election results were dubiously annulled by the preceding military president Ibrahim Babangida because of alleged evidence that they were corrupt and unfair.
10. Born August 24, 1937, Abiola was his father’s 23rd child and the first of his father’s children to survive infancy, hence the name ‘Kashimawo’ (Let us wait and see). He would have been 79 years old this year.