FELA fought MKO Abiola over personal interest — Segun Aka Basorun + How his father served both MKO & FELA

Segun Aka Basorun (R) Mum, Mrs. Kudirat Aka Basorun, APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Segun’s brother, Layi Aka Basorun in New York

Segun Aka Basorun is one of the few privileged sources
to the political train that led Nigeria into her present democratic regime
which late Chief MKO Abiola symbolizes. Segun’s father, late Chief
Alao Aka Basorun
was one of the few names that resonated with the
struggle of democratic freedom which MKO Abiola sacrificed his life for
with his truncated June 12, 1993 Presidential mandate by the military regime of
IBB, Abacha and Abdulsalami
. Aka Basorun can be described as a privileged source of history.
He was the only man who served as a lawyer to the two most controversial
personalities in the history of Nigeria’s political evolution. He was a lawyer
to late Afro beat musician, Fela Anikulapo Kuti as well as the
influential MKO Abiola. Both MKO
and FELA disagreed on so many issues
ranging from politics to riches and lifestyle as MKO was labeled ‘Friend of the Establishment’. However, Alao
Aka Basorun
was lucky to work for the two distinguished Nigerians
without raising any doubt of disloyalty to the two sides.

Segun Aka Basorun

Segun, a political
scientist and first son of late Chief Alao Aka Basorun spoke
with your Africa’s Number 1Celebrity encounter blog, Asabeafrika on Saturday
December 10, 2016 after an end of the Year book reading event organized by a
top Lagos based networking organization, Africanhub to highlight the book ‘The
President Who Never Ruled’
written by late Chief MKO Abiola’s 5th
son, Abdul-Jamiu
Abiodun Abiola
(Shetima Rasheed of Borno)

 Jamiu a multi-linguist, business man
and author had written the book to put straight some issues around the image of
his late Dad, Basorun MKO Abiola. One of the very controversial issues was
the alleged illegal acquisition of Nigeria’s common wealth by MKO through
inflated contracts awarded to him by the military establishment through ITT,
an American owned telephony company which appointed MKO as its Africa and
Middle East representative. Segun Aka Basorun put light to the
issue of the bitter feud between Fela Anikulapo Kuti an alumnus of Abeokuta Grammar School and MKO
an alumnus of the prestigious Baptist Boys High School and who are of same Egba lineage in AbeokutaOgun State (South West Nigeria). Enjoy the excerpts.

L-R; ED, Africanhub, Mrs. Oluneye Oluwole, Author, Alhaji Jamiu Abiola,  Mr. Segun Aka Basorun and Mrs. Hafsat Costello Abiola
How would you describe the book, ‘The
President who never ruled’?
It is an
insightful book that tells the full story of the episode of one of the most controversial
Political evolution in Nigeria. It is a total book that has subjected almost
everything about our present democracy to intellectual trial. In a country
where history and facts are being buried and fallacy and falsehood is
celebrated, the book ‘The President who never ruled’ is a
reminder of the axiom which says “nothing
can triumph over truth”.
Truth is real, truth is constant and truth is
factual. The beauty of the literature is that it is being written by an
insider, Jamiu Abiola who is one of the few Nigerian citizens the
country must listen to his voice.

Segun Aka Basorun salutes Jamiu Abiola’s courage for writing Dad’s story

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Jamiu Abiola lost a father and a
mother as sacrifice of democracy. His decision to write the full account of his
father’s life trajectory and the politics of his lifetime adventure is a worthwhile
venture. He is one of the few but privileged actors who are privy to the very
principles and philosophies MKO Abiola lived for.  I want to believe he is not the only one with
a lurid detail of the life and times of MKO Abiola; there are other actors who
can come out and give their own account of the life and times of MKO

The Author, Alhaji Abdul Jamiu Abiodun Abiola and other guests at the Book Reading Event

There are other players in Abiola’s life that need to come out
and write about Abiola. But the son, Jamiu has taken a bold step to be
the pioneer, to kick start the message of truth, the message of struggle and
the message of change that we are talking about today. This change could have
started in 1993, it was called Hope then. This message of change,
the story must be written so that we can learn from the errors and know how to
build on tomorrow’s promises. I think this is what this book has done.

The Legendary Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola
It is generally agreed that the ghost
of MKO Abiola might still be hunting players of present day democracy, don’t
you think the present crop of political leaders should just rise and give him
his honor as a true President who won a clear election and all his rights
accorded him  posthumously?

The book; ‘The President Who Never Ruled’

We have to
remember that all the (political) players today; if you mention their names you
will see that they were still players during the time of Abiola. They were stake
holders and they were parts of the process denied him his victory, they cannot
appreciate the outcome of that process. They cannot, they don’t see what is to
be appreciated because they are still trying to benefit. They have been
benefitting and those who have not benefitted are trying to benefit from that
process. So, they can never appreciate it. They are not ready to sacrifice
their conscience, Abiola was a sacrifice in order for them to benefit. Until we
have people who are not ready to benefit themselves but to sacrifice for Nigeria,
the same story will still be told. The change we are looking for, the change we
are hoping for will not be gotten. It will be elusive. And that is what we are
experiencing right now. Those in power do not cherish the memory of MKO
The Legendary Afro-Beat Musician, Fela Anikulapo Kuti
During your presentation, you said
late Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s song
ITT was composed and
delivered against MKO because of a personal fight between FELA & MKO. Your
father served as both MKO and FELA’s lawyer. Can you tell us more about the
chemistry of their relationship?

Segun’s legendary father, the Late Chief Alao Aka Basorun

No, I even
have the documents. I was going through my father’s law books, I mean his legal
properties recently and I found a copies of the original contract Fela
signed and I just gave his children a month ago; all of the documents which
involved contracts, monies and gratuities.

Segun Aka Basorun with his aides at the Book Reading Event organized by Africanhub

So, I saw personal letters Abiola
wrote to Fela and Fela’s replies. I have the letters
that MKO
told him (Fela) to remove certain lyrical lines from the song Zombie
which he released that year and Fela told him ‘No way’. That he was
not going to remove anything from his lyrics and that nobody could make him
remove a line from his lyrics.

Segun Aka Basorun delivering his portion of the book
You mean MKO and FELA had
disagreements over FELA’s song,
Yes, MKO
wrote a letter to Fela asking him to change the lyrics of Zombie or else it will never be released and that they will not pay
him a dime for the song and Fela said ‘no way’ that he is not
changing one thing. That was the fight between him and MKO because at that time,
bought DECCA Africa (Fela’s Music Label). He was the owner now, and he
didn’t want to extend Fela’s contract as an artiste.

Segun Aka Basorun giving a note of advice to participants as Guests looks on

the personal onslaught Fela did against MKO
was as a result of that. So, people did not see that relationship they
taught it was just because of the military establishment and MKO’s
relationship with them.

So, there are lots of untold stories?

The Author of the book ‘The President Who Never Ruled’ Alhaji Abdul Jamiu Abiodun Abiola welcomes Segun Aka Basorun to the event

Yes. But,
eventually Fela came out and said he wanted to become the president of Africa.
People have forgotten that Fela wanted to be president at that
time too, and that was when he had political in-roads against some of his
enemies. Like MKO Abiola was an enemy to him. So, Movement of the People (MOP) with (late) Tunji Braithwaite
who was bringing NAP (National Association of the People), and all those issues
came strong as a force. The whole issue is that, MKO Abiola was tainted as
not part of what I will call the progressives.

The Executive Director, AfricanHub, Mrs. Oluneye Oluwole welcomes Mr. Segun Aka Basorun to the Event

They saw Abiola as part of the
establishment and that was why he ended up in NPN. He left UPN and
joined NPN. People have forgotten
that story. So, it was easy for Fela to label Abiola negatively, it was
so easy because people already perceived Abiola as an establishment guy. He
was seen as part of them and when Fela started abusing him, especially
in this part of the world, it resonated negatively that ‘Yes, MKO is not a good Yoruba man’.

The GDA welcoming Segun Aka Basorun to the event

Because he is not part of Awolowo’s
UPN. So, that is what rubbed off Abiola negatively. So, this book is
setting the record straight, it is changing people’s perception about Abiola.
And in talking about Abiola, you end up talking about Fela because Fela
was so negative about MKO Abiola. So, that is why I had to
set the records straight about Fela at the book reading.

Segun Aka Basorun with the GDA and another Media Executive

So, can we say FELA was the antagonist
and MKO was the protagonist?
Yes, to an
extent. You know, of course, the reason why he bought DECCA West Africa was to
control Fela. He bought DECCA
so that he can have control over Fela but that did not work. But it
is typical, it is a typical Abiola style; the solution to that
problem is to go to the institution and deal with Fela from the

The GDA and a Media Executive sharing points with Segun Aka Basorun

The Year ITT (International
Thief-Thief) was released what did your father tell Fela as the lawyer to both
Well, I
didn’t think my father would have told Fela anything because you know Beko
(Ransome Kuti) told me before he died, he said if there is one thing he will
never forget it was the rare courage of Fela. I think my father was equally
as radical as Fela was. When Fela was taking the symbolic coffin
of his late mum to the State House at Dodan
, my father followed them. So, Fela was not aware that my father
was in the procession. When he looked back and saw him, he said ‘Ha, Egbon, you are following us? If they
arrest us who is going to bail
You are the lawyer now, you can’t follow
us, no, no, no, no, you have to stay
The reason why I am saying all these today is that, in this radicalism that we
love, that we cherish in the South West
which has almost unfortunately died from the likes of the Fayemis, it is not
even the Falanas or the Akeles that can bring it back.

Veteran Journalist Biodun Kuponiyi and the GDA speaks with Segun Aka Basorun

We don’t
have that sincere activism any more. We lost that during that era. Back to your
question on ITT you see, Fela released ITT as a concept. He
released that song to talk about the multinational companies, what I call the
conglomerates because at that time, we only started having multi-nationals
worldwide. The Lever Brothers which was renamed Unilever, they were multinationals. They
were the first called multi-national corporations but nowadays, we have
multi-many but they were very few in the world in those days. ITT was
one of such.

Segun Aka Basorun explains a point to the GDA and a media executive

So, if you work for such companies, they see you as an outsider
that you are working for the big goons who are going to control things from
outside. ITT was seen as a multi-national who is not a friend to the
masses and Abiola represented ITT. So, it was easy for Fela
to now attack this conglomerate and the symbol of this multinational
conglomerate is MKO Abiola who represented Africa.
Of course, in the era when you were talking about, it was an era when Pan Africanism
was very high the issue of white and black and racial segregation was very
high. The issue of the rich, white countries who are controlling and exploiting
or neo-colonialism was very high; to talk about conglomerate, to talk about
multinationals like ITT was very attractive for the masses. Masses loved that
message. So, of course, Fela used it heavily to admonish MKO
and tarnished his image negatively.

Late General Sani Abacha…Locked up MKO for 4 Years

So, these perspectives are
very important and they are very salient issues that the reviewer of the book
wouldn’t know. The reviewer of the book is a 28 years old guy. So, he may not
have the history or the perspective to be able to put those interplay that was
happening worldwide into play, to understand why those perceptions were built
the way it has been built. But I am happy they are getting involved and people
are getting a better understanding of the past.

Ex-Nigeria’s No 2, General Oladipupo Diya….’He couldn’t save his kinsman, MKO while serving his master, General Sani Abacha

And it is quite unfortunate
that we are not taking history as a primary subject any longer. History is
elusive in schools, so, people don’t understand the past. We don’t know who we
were any more. It is part of the thing the author mentioned that we can’t
understand ourselves anymore; how do we now re-orient ourselves to become smart
enough to be thinking. So, it is a long way to go and we need to start the
journey now.

Eventually, MKO and FELA met, and
FELA said,
‘Abiola is my brother’. Were you privy to that meeting?

Segun Aka Basorun signs arrival register

Yes, funny
enough my father was the initiator of that historic meeting. Funny enough, I
remember that day very well, my father had the microphone and he insisted that Fela
and Abiola
must end their rift and they hugged each other. They did; I remember because it
was somewhere either at  Eko
or Federal Palace Hotel in Lagos and it was in the
late 80s, it was a big event and that was the day Abiola and Fela
hugged themselves. My dad was on the microphone and he now called that they
should have a truce and they followed it.

The GDA of Asabeafrika shares a rare pose with Jamiu Abiola with the book ‘The President Who Never Ruled’

You know (MKO) Abiola was my neighbor too;
he was so close to me. I grew up with everyone of his kids; with Lekan,
all of us grew up together. Jamiu, Hafsat and all of them were junior to us, they are ‘awon aburo wa’ but we all grew up
together it was a beautiful experience. So, I know them, we are very close and
till date I cherish the experience.

L-R: Author, ‘The President Who Never Ruled’, Jamiu Abiola, President Yoweri Musoveni of Uganda and Author’s brother, Lekan Abiola


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