How IBB asked MKO to run for Presidency in 1993

Babangida and Abiola when the going was good

Moshood Abiola was smiling as
he entered his private plane. The tall and handsome dark-skinned Nigerian
billionaire with large eyes and ears was on his way back to Lagos
after a short trip to Abuja.
He was wearing a dark blue suit with a red tie and a white shirt. He was happy
on that afternoon in the early part of 1993. His features had adopted a
distinctive cheerfulness that was more pronounced whenever he smiled. Now was
the time for joy since he had finally gotten the green light from “the
powers that be”
to vie for the Nigerian presidency. It was a dream that
he had had for decades. It had even become an important part of him, known for
a long time by all his family members, and of course by “the powers that be”.
His Caucasian
pilot greeted him warmly, performed a theatrical bow then said jokingly, “I am sorry to have to announce that we are
heading to Lagos, since I still haven’t located heaven on the map”
Moshood feigned a serious look, paused then
replied sternly,
“Well in that case, you are fired”

They both
laughed as the pilot made his way to his cabin to prepare for take off. Such
cheerful encounters were common between them. Once by himself, Moshood
reflected on what had happened earlier in the day to justify his optimistic
glow. Was General Babangida, the military president serious when he asked
him to run for the presidency? His smile broadened when he suddenly remembered
that the military ruler had not just requested that he participate in the
elections, it was more of a plea. Yes, it was. Moshood acknowledged that
to himself in an effort to reassure himself that the Nigerian ruler and close
friend had made up his mind that he, Moshood, was the right man to
succeed him. Why not? After all Moshood had always donated his time
and his money to any cause designed to move Nigeria forward.

MKO Abiola; The Enigma

Moshood’s ego began to
swell as those self-glorifying thoughts raced through his mind, coinciding with
the plane’s unpredictably swift movement across the runaway. As it was about to
take off, it made a faint but familiar sound that cut off Moshood’s thoughts
temporarily till he was airborne. But by the time he had adjusted his chair to
a more comfortable position, his excitement started to fizzle away. In its
place came a sharp feeling of unease because Moshood could not stop
his mind from drifting toward the darker side of things. Maybe this green light
was just a hoax, a set-up designed to humiliate him then destroy him. Had he
not been receiving mixed signals from the same military ruler over the last couple
of years? Signs that had convinced him, that his status as a friend to the
government was uncertain? All of a sudden he felt a bitter taste in his mouth.
Then he remembered the day when Nigerian air force officials had invaded his
personal residence. Why had a minor disagreement between one of his sons and an
air force officer lead to such a drastic measure? He remembered how his
domestic staff was humiliated that day and how his home was completely
ransacked. Moshood had never stopped believing that General Babangida was
behind the incident.
That belief was
confirmed when his troubles later worsened, his passport was seized several
times at the airport on his trips out of the country. Even his businesses
suffered because payments for executed projects were not forthcoming. Moshood
tried to take a nap but he could not. He remained awake for the entire
fifty-five minute flight.
His plane landed
in Lagos at 4 p.m. His original plan had been to go home and rest before a
later trip to Paris at 9 p.m. that
same day but that had changed. He was now going to see a close friend whom he
had always admired for his wisdom. He needed some good advice. No longer in the
mood for joking, Moshood bid his pilot farewell with the wave of his hand and
hurriedly entered his black, bulletproof Mercedes
parked at the tarmac. In a fit of anxiety, he told his driver where to
His ride to his
friend’s house was longer than his trip from Abuja because of heavy traffic. It
was days like this that he regretted turning down offers from his friends in
the police to provide him with a siren. He finally arrived at his destination:
a small, white, modest-looking bungalow with a single car and a security guard.
rushed out of the car and greeted the guard, a weak- looking old man who
probably could not hurt a fly or defend his boss from one. Moshood did not bother to
ask whether his friend was at home because he had already seen his car in the
As he entered,
his friend was reading a book, which was not a surprise since that was how he
spent most of his time. Hearing footsteps, his host glanced upward and smiled
when he saw Moshood. He stood up at once and hugged him. “This is the first time that the earth did
not tremble to mark your arrival. I wonder why”

Jamiu Abiola with the GD

Moshood hugged him
again. He had a lot of respect for his host, who unlike most others, hardly
ever made any requests of him. Beaming, Moshood announced, “I am very happy to see you but happier to
bring you some good news.”
They both sat down before Moshood added, “I have received clearance to run for the

 “The presidency is right in the center of
everything. My wealth is decreasing because my charities are increasing. Aside
from that, Nigerians are not only as poor as they were before, they are
becoming poorer”….“My charities will not eliminate poverty but my presidency

His friend
looked at him in disbelief. His smile vanished and a frown appeared. Moshood
noticed the change in his facial expression and was not pleased. His fears in
the plane resurfaced immediately.
“What a surprise!” his host replied. “But if I am to be honest, I am not so keen
on knowing where this mysterious clearance came from because the only clearance
that matters comes only from God… but that does not mean you should ignore
the handwriting on the wall, Moshood.
It speaks volumes”.
Moshood stood up, offended. “What do you mean by the handwriting on the
wall and why are you speaking in riddles?”
His friend urged
him to sit down, and when he did, he added in a milder tone, “These people don’t like you, Moshood. Deep down, you know how much
they envy you and see you as a threat”
He sighed. “So how will they ever hand over power to you? Maybe there is something
I don’t know”
There was a
heavy and unsettling silence. Moshood paused to think. He had to,
because his host was right. Deep down, he knew it. It took him a while to say
anything. “I am thankful that God is the
giver of power, as you said earlier, and not army generals who believe they are
gods. All I needed from them was their clearance and now watch me as I outsmart
His host looked
at him in bewilderment. “So you want to
convince me that you can take on the Nigerian military, the most powerful
institution in sub-Saharan Africa? I have never known you to be such a
Gazing deeply at
he patted him on the shoulder and added, “Remember
that you have industries and factories all over Nigeria. In other words, you
have too much to lose if, or should I just say when, things go wrong”
Moshood rose to his
feet. He walked around the living room, scrutinizing it as if he was searching
for something vital. He suddenly turned back toward his friend. “You said that you have never known me to be
somebody who takes risks. Maybe you don’t know me then”
He sat down and
continued. “My life has always been about
taking big risks, but not careless and reckless ones, because they have always
been reasonable risks and I always win”

The Book that sets Abiola’s Political Records Straight by Jamiu Abiola

Before either of
them could speak further, a guest arrived. Moshood could have made his host
delay attending to his guest but he decided to leave. He had heard enough and
was beginning to have a headache. He told his friend that he had an urgent
matter to attend to even though he was just going home. His friend escorted him
out but once they were outside, he asked another question. “Since when did you transform from a careful accountant to a
Moshood laughed. “I told you already that I have always taken
risks. Where there is no risk or the possibility of pain there is no progress
or possibility of gain”
He opened the door of his car before adding, “That was how I rose to the top. I take
business and political risks, sensible ones”
His friend
raised an eyebrow. “And where does the
presidency fit into all of this?”
Moshood smiled broadly.
“The presidency is right in the center of
everything. My wealth is decreasing because my charities are increasing. Aside
from that, Nigerians are not only as poor as they were before, they are
becoming poorer”.
His smile disappeared. “My charities will not eliminate poverty but my presidency will”

The GDA & Abdul Jamiu Abiola in rare pose with The Book on The Birth and Death of MKO

His host nodded
and hugged him. Moshood entered his car and headed home. But on his way there
was heavy traffic so he placed a call to Kudirat, his senior wife, and told
her to meet him at the airport and bring some documents that were on his bed.
He told her not to pack any clothes for him because he had all that he needed
to wear in his London house. Afterward he placed a call to his British driver and told him to bring his
from London to the Charles de Gaulle airport in France by 6 a.m. the following morning. He needed
to think and the flight to Paris and
the drive to London would enable him
to do that.
Kudirat was at the
airport before him. She was a slim, beautiful; light-skinned woman of moderate
height. She was wearing a yellow traditional dress that matched her complexion.
Once she saw him, she got out of her car and they both entered his plane
together. She gave him his documents and he told her of his new ambition. She
worried at first then advised him to pray over it. They spoke briefly about
some domestic issues. She left him by 9 p.m. and his plane took off
By then Moshood
was tired but he knew that sleep would evade him. He requested some coffee and once
he took a sip, his thoughts drifted to the past, taking him to his childhood, a
life of poverty and uncertainty. He was sure that his life was about to change.
Was the change going to be for the better or the worse? He did not have a clue
and even if he did, he did not believe that he could alter anything because he
felt like he had already entered an unstoppable train.
(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 Read Untold Story of
the Pregnancy & the birth of MKO Abiola in 1938
in our next post on
this blog)