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Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola

Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola

Introduction

About

LEGACY OF CHIEF MOSHOOD OLAWALE ABIOLA

Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola GCFR, popularly known as M. K. O. Abiola, was a prominent Nigerian businessman, publisher, and politician. Born on August 24, 1937, in Abeokuta, Ogun State, he was the first of his father's children to survive infancy, earning him the name 'Kashimawo,' meaning "Let us wait and see." He later became known as Moshood Abiola, officially named at the age of fifteen.

Abiola's early life involved assisting his father, a produce trader, in the cocoa trade. His father's business suffered a setback in 1946 when a cocoa consignment was declared of poor quality and destroyed, impacting the family's livelihood. At nine, Abiola initiated his first business by selling firewood before school to support his family. He later founded a band, using the earnings to contribute to his family's welfare and fund his secondary education at the Baptist Boys High School in Abeokuta.

His political journey began at 19 when he joined the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons. In 1960, he earned a government scholarship to study at the University of Glasgow, obtaining a degree in accountancy and becoming a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria.

Abiola's professional career commenced in 1956 as a bank clerk with Barclays Bank in Ibadan. After his studies in Glasgow, he held various roles, including senior accountant at the University of Lagos Teaching Hospital and positions at Pfizer and the ITT Corporation, where he eventually became vice-president for Africa and the Middle East. Abiola's determination and business acumen led to his ownership of 49% equity in ITT's Nigerian arm.

Apart from his business ventures, Abiola delved into politics, joining the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) in 1980 and becoming the state chairman. His presidential aspirations were thwarted by a military coup in 1983, but he continued his political involvement. In 1993, he secured the presidential nomination of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) for the June 12 elections, advocating an optimistic future for Nigeria.

The June 12, 1993, presidential election, where Abiola was a candidate, was declared Nigeria's freest and fairest by observers. Despite winning in various regions, the election was annulled by Ibrahim Babangida, leading to a political crisis and the eventual rise of General Sani Abacha to power.

In 1994, Abiola declared himself the lawful president of Nigeria, leading to his arrest on charges of treason by General Sani Abacha. Abiola's wife, Kudirat Abiola, was assassinated in 1996 after publicly supporting her husband. During his four-year detention, Abiola received global support for his release but refused to renounce his mandate. He died unexpectedly on the day he was scheduled for release, with conflicting reports surrounding the circumstances of his death.

Despite the controversy, Chief M.K.O. Abiola is celebrated annually, with June 12 declared a public holiday in his honor. The Lagos State Government and other states observe this day, and in 2019, it became Nigeria's Democracy Day. Various events commemorate Abiola's memory, and landmarks like the MKO Abiola Stadium and Moshood Abiola Polytechnic were named in his honor.

Abiola's philanthropic activities contributed to his national and international prominence. He received numerous traditional titles and honors for his contributions, supporting the construction of schools, mosques, churches, libraries, and water projects across Nigeria. He also supported Southern African liberation movements and campaigned for reparations for slavery and colonialism in Africa and the diaspora.

In recognition of his contributions, Abiola was posthumously awarded the National honour Grand Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (GCFR) on June 6, 2018, by President Muhammadu Buhari. Nigeria's democracy day was subsequently changed to June 12 in his honor. Despite criticisms and controversies, Chief M.K.O. Abiola's legacy endures as a symbol of democracy and a figure who left a lasting impact on Nigeria's political and social landscape.


Reference:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moshood_Abiola




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