MKO Abiola Biography
Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, GCFR, popularly known as M.K.O. Abiola (Mko Abiola), was a Nigerian businessman, publisher, politician and aristocrat of the Yoruba Egba clan. He was the Aare Ona Kankafo of the Yoruba land. In 1993, he contested for the position of the presidency in Nigeria, and is widely presumed to be the winner of the inconclusive election, though no official final results were announced.
The results of the elections were annulled by the preceding military president Ibrahim Babangida because of allegations that they were corrupt and unfair. He was awarded the GCFR posthumously on 6 June 2018 by President Muhammadu Buhari and Nigeria’s democracy day was changed to June 12.
As a young boy of nine years, Abiola manifested entrepreneurial skills. His first business was that of selling firewood gathered in the forest at dawn before school to support his father and siblings. He also founded a band at the age of fifteen, with which he performed at ceremonies in exchange for food. After becoming famous with his band, he began to demand money for performances. He then used the money to support his family and pay for his secondary education at the Baptist Boys High School Abeokuta.
At the school, he became the editor of the school magazine, The Trumpeter. He also joined the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons ostensibly because of its stronger pan-Nigerian origin compared with the Obafemi Awolowo-led Action Group, at the age of 19.
He was born on August 24, 1937 and died on July 7, 1998. He died after he was denied victory, following the annulment of the entire election by the then military president, Ibrahim Babangida.
He began his professional life in 1965, as a bank clerk with Barclays Bank in Ibadan, South-West Nigeria. Two years later, he joined the Western Region Finance Corporation as an executive accounts officer, but then left the country to Glasgow, Scotland, to pursue his higher education.
From the university, he gained a first class degree in accountancy and a distinction from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland. When he went back to Nigeria, Abiola worked as a senior accountant at the University of Lagos Teaching Hospital, then went on to US firm Pfizer, before joining the ITT Corporation, where he later rose to the position of Vice-President, Africa and Middle-East.
The politician was born in Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria on August 24, 1937. He was his father’s 23rd but the first to survive infancy hence his name ‘Kashimawo’ which means “Let us wait and see”. At the age of 15 years, he was named Moshood by his parents.
MKO Abiola Wife | MKO Abiola Marriage
Abiola had married many wives, notably Simibiat Atinuke Shoaga in 1960, Kudirat Olayinka Adeyemi in 1973, Adebisi Olawunmi Oshin in 1974, Doyinsola (Doyin) Abiola Aboaba in 1981, Modupe Onitiri-Abiola and Remi Abiola. From is many wives, he fathered many children too.
MKO Abiola Children
He had many children, among them: daughter Hafsat Abiola, a Nigerian human rights, civil rights and democracy activist, daughter Dupsy Abiola, a British barrister, entrepreneur and businesswoman, son Kola Abiola, daughter Lola Abiola-Edewor, son Abdul Mumuni Abiola, daughter Khafila Abiola, son Olalekan Yusau Abiola, daughter Hofsad Abiola, daughter lawunmi Abiola, son Hadi Abiola, son Jamiu Biodun Abiola and Moriam Abiola.
MKO Abiola Wealth
He invested greatly in Nigeria and West Africa in addition to his duties throughout the Middle-East and Africa. He set up Abiola Farms, Abiola Bookshops, Radio Communications Nigeria, Wonder Bakeries, Concord Press, Concord Airlines, Summit Oil International Ltd, Africa Ocean Lines, Habib Bank, Decca W.A. Ltd, and Abiola football club.
He was also Chairman of the G15 business council, President of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, Patron of the Kwame Nkrumah Foundation, Patron of the WEB Du Bois foundation, trustee of the Martin Luther King Foundation, and director of the International Press Institute.
Most of his time was spent and his money was made in the United States as he retained the position of chairman of the corporation’s Nigerian subsidiary.
MKO Abiola Involvement in politics
Abiola’s involvement in politics started early on in life when he joined the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC) at the age of 19. In 1979, the military government kept its word and handed over power to the civilian. As Abiola was already involved in politics, he joined the ruling National Party of Nigeria (NPN) in 1980 and was elected the state chairman of his party.
Re-election was done in 1983 and everything looked promising since the re-elected president was from Abiola’s party and based on the true transition to power in 1979; Abiola was eligible to go for the post of presidential candidate after the tenure of the re-elected president. However, his hope to become the president was shortly dashed away for the first time in 1983 when a military coup d’état swept away the re-elected president of his party and ended civilian rule in the country.
After a decade of military rule, General Ibrahim Babangida came under pressure to return democratic rule to Nigeria. After an aborted initial primary, Abiola stood for the presidential nomination of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and beat Ambassador Baba Gana Kingibe and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar to secure the presidential nomination of the SDP ahead of the 12 June 1993 presidential elections.
For the 12 June 1993 presidential elections, Abiola’s running mate was Baba Gana Kingibe. He overwhelmingly defeated his rival, Bashir Tofa of the National Republican Convention. The election was declared Nigeria’s freest and fairest presidential election by national and international observers, with Abiola even winning in his Northern opponent’s home state. Abiola won at the national capital, Abuja, the military polling stations, and over two-thirds of Nigerian states.
The reason why the election was so historic, was because men of Northern descent had largely dominated Nigeria’s political landscape since independence. The fact that Moshood Abiola (a Southern Muslim) was able to secure a national mandate freely and fairly remains unprecedented in Nigeria’s history. However, the election was annulled by Ibrahim Babangida, a political crisis that ensued which led to General Sani Abacha seizing power later that year
MKO Abiola Philanthropy
Moshood Abiola sprang to national and international prominence as a result of his philanthropic activities. From 1972 until his death Moshood Abiola had been conferred with 197 traditional titles by 68 different communities in Nigeria, in response to the fact that his financial assistance resulted in the construction of 63 secondary schools, 121 mosques and churches, 41 libraries, 21 water projects in 24 states of Nigeria, and was grand patron to 149 societies or associations in Nigeria. In this way Abiola reached out and won admiration across the multifarious ethnic and religious divides in Nigeria.
In addition to his work in Nigeria, Moshood Abiola was a dedicated supporter of the Southern African Liberation movements from the 1970s and he sponsored the campaign to win reparations for slavery and colonialism in Africa and the diaspora. Chief Abiola, personally rallied every African head of state, and every head of state in the black diaspora to ensure that Africans would speak with one voice on the issues.
MKO Abiola Imprisonment
In 1994 Moshood Abiola declared himself the lawful president of Nigeria in the Epetedo area of Lagos island, an area mainly populated by (Yoruba) Lagos Indigenes. He had recently returned from a trip to win the support of the international community for his mandate. After declaring himself president he was declared wanted and 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.
Moshood Abiola was detained for four years, largely in solitary confinement with a Bible, Qur’an, and fourteen guards as companions. During that time, Pope John Paul II, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and human rights activists from all over the world lobbied the Nigerian government for his release.
The sole condition attached to the release of Chief Abiola was that he renounce his mandate, something that he refused to do, although the military government offered to compensate him and refund his extensive election expenses. For this reason Chief Abiola became extremely troubled when Kofi Annan and Emeka Anyaoku reported to the world that he had agreed to renounce his mandate after they met with him to tell him that the world would not recognise a five-year-old election.
MKO Abiola Death | How Mko Abiola Died
Chief Abiola died on July 7, 1998, on the day he was to be released from detention over the 1993 election results. He was denied his mandate by the then military ruler, Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida who called for another election after annulling the one that produced Abiola. However, another military dictator, Sani Abacha took over from Babaginda and declared himself military ruler.
Abacha then arrested Abiola for declaring himself “President and Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria” and proclaimed “a new Government of National Unity.” The military ruler then threw Abiola into prison for four years where he later died on the day he was to be released under suspicious circumstances shortly after the death of General Abacha.
While the official autopsy stated that Abiola died of natural causes, Abacha’s Chief Security Officer, al-Mustapha has alleged that Moshood Abiola was in fact beaten to death. Al-Mustapha, who was detained by the Nigerian government, but later released, claims to have video and audiotapes showing how Abiola was beaten to death. The final autopsy report, which was produced by a group of international coroners has never been publicly released.
Remembrance of MKO Abiola
Chief MKO Abiola’s memory is celebrated in Nigeria and internationally on 12th June which remains a public holiday in Lagos and Ogun states. There are also remembrance events arranged across Nigeria. MKO Abiola was known for his charisma and for being a man of the people. As a prominent social activist, democratic freedom fighter, and successful business figure, the continuing support for MKO Abiola is part of his legacy.
MKO Abiola Stadium and Moshood Abiola Polytechnic were named in his honour. There were also calls for posthumous presidential recognition. A statue, MKO Abiola Statue was also erected in his honour.
MKO Abiola Net Worth | How Much Was MKO Abiola Worth
Abiola’s net worth was arrived at by valuing his major and flourishing businesses which were said to be at over $1 billion in assets.
Late Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola was arguably the richest Nigerian living in Nigeria with a large share of his businesses situated in the country while he was alive.
MKO Abiola Burial Video
MKO Abiola Speeches
Below is the full speech delivered on June 11, 1994, and dubbed the ‘Epetedo Proclamation,’ having been made in the Epetedo area of Lagos Island.
“People of Nigeria, exactly one year ago, you turned out in your millions to vote for me, Chief M.K.O. Abiola, as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. But politicians in uniform, who call themselves soldiers but are more devious than any civilian would want to be, deprived you of your God-given right to be ruled by the President you had yourselves elected.
“These soldier-politicians introduced into our body politic, a concept hitherto unknown to our political lexicography, something strangely called the “annulment” of an election perceived by all to have been the fairest, cleanest and most peaceful ever held in our nation.
“Since that abominable act of naked political armed robbery occurred, I have been constantly urged by people of goodwill, both in Nigeria and abroad, to put the matter back into the people’s hands and get them to actualise the mandate they gave me at the polls. But mindful of the need to ensure that peace continues to reign in our fragile federation, I have so far tried to pursue sweet reason and negotiation.
“My hope has always been to arouse whatever remnants of patriotism are left in the hearts of these thieves of your mandate, and to persuade them that they should not allow their personal desire to rule to usher our beloved country into an era of political instability and economic ruin.
“All I have sought to do, in seeking dialogue with them, has been to try and get them to realise that only real democracy can move our nation forward towards progress, and earn her the respect she deserves from the international community.
“However, although this peaceful approach has exposed me to severe censure by some who have mistaken it for weakness on my part, those with whom I have sought to dialogue have remained like stones, neither stirred to show loyalty to the collective decision of the people of their own country, nor to observe Allah’s injunction that they should exhibit justice and fair-play in all their dealings with their fellowmen.
“Appeals to their honour as officers and gentlemen of the gallant Nigerian Armed Forces, have fallen on deaf ears. Instead, they have resorted to the tactics of divide and rule, bribery and political perfidy, misinformation and (vile) propaganda. They arrest everyone who disagrees with them. Even the 71-year old hero of our nation, Chief Anthony Enahoro, was not spared. How much longer can we tolerate all this? People of Nigeria, you are all witnesses that I have tried to climb the highest mountain, cross the deepest river and walk the longest mile, in order to get these men to obey the will of our people.
“There is no humiliation I have not endured, no snare that has not been put in my path, no “setup” that has not been designed for me in my endeavour to use the path of peace to enforce the mandate that you bestowed on me one year ago. It has been a long night. But the dawn is here.
“Today, people of Nigeria, I join you all in saying, “Enough is Enough!” We have endured 24 years of military rule in our 34 years of independence.
“Military rule has led to our nation fighting a civil war with itself. Military rule has destabilised our nation today as not before in its history. Military rule has impoverished our people and introduced a dreadful trade in drugs which has made our country’s name an anathema in many parts of the world. Even soccer fans going to watch the Green Eagles display in America are being made to suffer there needlessly because Nigeria’s name is linked with credit card and fraud and “419.” Politically, military rule has torn to shreds the prestige due to our country because of its size and population.
“The permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council that should be rightfully ours, is all but lost. For who will vote for Nigeria to get the seat if Nigerian military rulers do not respect the votes of their own people?
“Enough of military rule. We are sickened to see people who have shown little or no personal achievement, either in building up private businesses, or making success of any tangible thing, being placed in charge of the management of our nation’s economy, by rulers who are not accountable to anyone.
“Enough of square pegs in round holes. We are tired of then military repetitive tendency to experiment with our economy: Today, they say “no controls.” Tomorrow; they say “Full controls”. The day after, they say “Fine tuning”.
“The next day, they say “Devaluation.” A few days later, they say “Revalue the same naira upwards again Abi?” All we can see are the consequences of this permanent game of military “about turns;” high inflation, a huge budget deficit and an enormous foreign debt repayment burden, dying industries, high unemployment and a demoralised populace.
“Our youths, in particular, can see no hope on the horizon, and many can only dream of escaping from our shores to join the brain drain. Is this the Nigeria we want? We are plagued also by periodic balance of payments crises, which have led to a perennial shortage of essential drugs, that has turned our hospitals and clinics into mortuaries.
“A scarcity of books and equipment has rendered our schools into desolate deserts of ignorance. Our factories are crying for machinery, spare parts and raw materials. But each day that passes, instead of these economic diseases being cured, they are rather strengthened as an irrational allocation of foreign exchange based on favouritism and corruption becomes the order of the day.
“Enough is enough of economic mismanagement! People of Nigeria, during the election campaign last year, I presented you with a programme entitled “HOPE ’93. This programme was aimed precisely at solving these economic (problems) that have demoralised us all. I toured every part of Nigeria to present this programme to you the electorate. I was questioned on it at public rallies and press conferences and I had the privilege of incorporating into it much of the feedback that I obtained from the people.
“Because you knew I would not only listen to you but deliver superb results from the programme, you voted for me in your millions and gave me an overwhelming majority over my opponent. To be precise, you gave me 58.4 per cent of the popular vote and a majority in 20 out of 30 states plus the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. Not only that, you also enabled me to fulfil the constitutional requirement that the winner should obtain one-third of the votes in two-thirds of the states.
“I am sure that when you cast an eye on the moribund state of Nigeria today, you ask yourselves: “What have we done to deserve this, when we have a president- elect who can lead a government that can change things for the better? Our patience has come to an end.
“As of now, from this moment, a new Government of National Unity is in power throughout the length and breadth of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, led by me, Bashorun M.K.O. Abiola, as President and Commander-in-Chief. The National Assembly is hereby reconvened. All dismissed governors are reinstated.
“The State Assemblies are reconstituted, as are all local government councils. I urge them to adopt a bi-partisan approach to all the issues that come before them. At the national level, a bi-partisan approach will be our guiding principle. I call upon the usurper, General Sani Abacha, to announce his resignation forthwith, together with the rest of his illegal ruling council. We are prepared to enter into negotiations with them to work out the mechanics for a smooth transfer of power.
“I pledge that if they hand over quietly, they will be retired with all their entitlements, and their positions will be accorded all the respect due to them. For our objective is neither recrimination nor witch-hunting, but an enforcement of the will of the Nigerian people, as expressed in free elections conducted by the duly constituted authority of the time.
“I hereby invoke the mandate bestowed upon me by my victory in the said election, to call on all members of the Armed Forces and the Police, the Civil and Public Services throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria, to obey only the Government of National Unity that is headed by me, your only elected President.
“My Government of National Unity is the only legitimate, constituted authority in the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as of now. People of Nigeria, these are challenging times in the history of our continent, Africa, and we in Nigeria must not allow ourselves to be left behind. Our struggle is the same as that waged by the people of South Africa, which has been successfully concluded, with the inauguration of Mr. Nelson Mandela as the first African President of that country.
“Nelson Mandela fought to replace MINORITY rule with MAJORITY rule. We in Nigeria are also fighting to replace MINORITY rule, for we are ruled by only a tiny section of our armed forces. Like the South Africans, we want MAJORITY rule today, that is rule only by those chosen by all the people of Nigeria as a whole in free and fair elections.
“The only difference between South Africa and Nigeria is that those who imposed minority rule on the majority rule whether it is by black or white, remains minority rule, and must be booted out. I call on you, heroic people of Nigeria, to emulate the actions of your brothers and sisters in South Africa and stand up as one person to throw away the yoke of minority rule for ever.
“The antics of every minority that oppresses the majority are always the same. They will try to intimidate you with threats of police action. But do not let us fear arrest. In South Africa, so many people were arrested, during the campaign against the Pass Laws, for instance, that the jails could not hold all of them. Today, apartheid is gone forever.
“So, let it be with Nigeria. Let us say goodbye forever to minority rule by the military. They talk of treason. But haven’t they heard of the Rivonia treason trial in South Africa? Did those treason trials halt the march of history? People of Nigeria, our time is now. You are the repository of power in the land.
“No one can give you power. It is yours. Take it! From this day, show to the world that anyone who takes the people of Nigeria for fools is deceiving himself and will have the people to answer to. God bless you all. Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Long live the Government of National Unity.”
MKO Abiola Quotes
1. Accept what God has given you and make the best use of it
2. If you go borrowing, you will go a sorrowing
3. It should not take the extreme measure of killing a new born child just because the midwife is a bad woman.
4. No one can give you power. It is yours. Take it!
5. From this day, show to the world that anyone who takes the people of Nigeria for fools is deceiving himself and will have the people to answer to.
6. People of Nigeria, our time is now. You are the repository of power in the land.
7. There is no humiliation I have not endured, no snare that has not been put in my path, no “setup” that has not been designed for me in my endeavor to use the path of peace to enforce the mandate that you bestowed on me.
8. You cannot shave the head in the absence of the owner
9. A scarcity of books and equipment has rendered our schools into desolate deserts of ignorance
10. We are sickened to see people who have shown little or no personal achievement, either in building up private businesses, or making success of any tangible thing, being placed in charge of the management of our nation’s economy, by rulers who are not accountable to anyone.
11. Our youths, in particular, can see no hope on the horizon, and many can only dream of escaping from our shores to join the brain drain.”
12. We are plagued also by periodic balance of payments crises, which have led to a perennial shortage of essential drugs that has turned our hospitals and clinics into mortuaries.”