MKO Abiola; The Enigma

Times were
changing. By the early nineties, Moshood was only a businessman in
name. His real interest had shifted from commerce to activism. The only thing
about him that had remained the same was his philanthropy. Most people did not
recognize this change in his life but those who were closest to him not only
saw it, they were afraid of it.
A big part of
their concern was that Moshood’s new orientation led him to
relinquish the daily running of his businesses to other people, including some
of his family members, which caused his companies to record huge losses. To
heighten the fears of those who were concerned about the state of his
businesses, Moshood, instead of panicking as a result of those losses, went
on a bigger donating spree. He funded a larger number of causes, institutions,
and individuals. He even went so far as to distribute money among family
members of victims of a plane crash. Some of his own family members, reacting
to that, approached him and demanded to know if he was deliberately trying to
become bankrupt.

Late General Sani Abacha; The Man who locked MKO up for 5 Years
This was not the
first time that such a confrontation would occur, and Moshood, as usual, not
only ignored them, but increased his charities. Making money, unlike in his
early years in ITT, was no longer a priority. It was now time to give it away.
His legendary generosity, within a very short period of time, won him
prestigious awards from notable organizations like the International Committee on
Education for Teaching
, located in Paris. He also became the recipient
of the symbolic
key, made of gold, to Washington,
DC
.

“But then, at the beginning of 1993-and to Moshood’s complete surprise-General Babangida gave him the green
light to pursue his presidential ambition. The coast was finally clear after so
many years of dreaming of the presidency. Moshood was completely thrilled at
first but slightly weary shortly afterward”
Jamiu Abiola tells the Story of MKO Abiola
Another major
achievement was an award that he received from the National Association for the
Advancement
of Colored People
(NAACP) for his immense contributions to the black
race. This international recognition and his rising clout at home rekindled his
interest in the Nigerian presidency. He started making plans to get involved in
the government’s transition program but had to postpone his plans because of the
loss of his senior wife, Hajia  Simbiat Abiola, in 1992. He mourned
her for a long period of time.

The Book which cleaned MKO’s Image
General
Ibrahim Babangida
, who was still Nigeria’s ruler and a close friend of Moshood,
was aware of his presidential ambitions. Many believed that this was why he had
begun harassing Moshood through junior officers who seized his passport
periodically on his way out of the country. They once even raided his house.
But this suspicion was hard to prove because General Babangida
maintained a very cordial relationship with Moshood and gave him
unlimited access to him at the Presidential Palace.
But then, at the
beginning of 1993-and to Moshood’s complete surprise-General
Babangida
gave him the green light to pursue his presidential ambition.
The coast was finally clear after so many years of dreaming of the presidency.
Moshood was completely thrilled at first but slightly weary shortly afterward.
Unknown to him then, the so-called green light was an invitation to a power
play between General Babangida and General Abacha, Nigeria’s chief of
defense—a  man known to be greedy and
bloodthirsty. General Abacha’s impatience to rule Nigeria and his rising
influence in the army terrified General Babangida.

The Author Abdul Jamiu Abiodun Abiola tells the GDA the Story of his Dad’s rise from nothing to something
General
Babangida,

desperate to neutralize him, decided to draft Moshood, Nigeria’s most
popular and presumably wealthiest man, into his phony “transition program to civilian rule”
That would make the program credible even though the general had no plans to
hand power over to anybody. Being the only civilian candidate with enough clout
to terrify Abacha, General Babangida’s aim was to
put Moshood
at loggerheads with him, creating a crisis between the military and civil
society. After that he would put an end to the transition to civilian rule, as
usual, and remain in power.

MKO Abiola the Star Boy from Abeokuta
The general had
a solid plan but there were two things that he did not take into consideration:
he never assumed that Moshood would fight ruthlessly for
his mandate if he were to win the elections. He had always seen him as a
businessman who was scared of his own shadow. He had also felt that General
Abacha
would not be able to capitalize on any annulment of the
democratic elections and use it to force him out of power.
(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
jamiulinguist@yahoo.com. Read How MKO Abiola raised Fifty Million Dollars
for Presidential Election
in our next post on this blog)

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