How MKO became Wealthy & Polygamous

MKO Abiola; The Man who broke the Record for ITT in Nigeria
Within the next
seven years Moshood became one of Africa’s richest businessmen. According
to rumors, he was even the richest African who had ever lived. Hard work
undoubtedly contributed to his success but it would be foolhardy to ignore the
fact that luck was a major factor as well. He was at the right company at the
right time and anything that happened to him during that period seemed to be
the right thing. Securing additional contracts for ITT was easier than Moshood
had expected. The strategy that he had promised his management that he would
use once he became the company’s managing director paid off sooner than he had
His new friends
in the military believed that they had to help his company because Moshood
had told them that the nationalist policies of the government were what had
encouraged ITT to make him the managing director of the company, despite
not being a foreign expatriate.

“What choice did they have when the likes of worthy
leaders like yourselves had let them realize that the word independence should
not just be a pronouncement, but an established reality in industry, and not
just in governance?”

He said such things to top military men in an effort to present ITT
as a western company that had grown to believe in Africa’s people and not
just its market. With time Moshood became more convinced that
this was a fact, which made his strategy even more convincing to the Nigerian
military government. Eventually it paid off in a very big way and ITT
acquired a new status that was accompanied by contracts that were even outside
the company’s field of specialization. And Moshood ensured that they were
executed honestly because his good name was at stake.

MKO Abiola; the Jolly Fellow

These were
indeed good times for the company, but the best were yet to come. And it came
in 1975, when General Murtala Mohammed, the former colonel who Moshood
had argued with in 1969, became Nigeria’s military ruler. He and Moshood
had become very good friends by then and it was during his reign that Moshood
was able to secure a massive contract to supply telephone lines to the whole of
unfortunately these successes had caused a rift between Moshood and the ITT
management. Trying to leverage on them, Moshood had tried in vain to get the
company to allocate half of the company’s shares in Nigeria to him. He believed
that he deserved nothing short of that as his rightful compensation, but
management turned him down repeatedly.

“He was stunned by her beauty. He stared at the
woman whom he later described as the most astonishing person he had ever seen
in his entire life.
The only thing that was ordinary about her,
according to him, was her moderate height. Everything else was outstanding.
Especially her eyes that he said sparkled like emeralds, while her fair skin
was so clear that it reminded him of transparent lakes”

Moshood finally got fed
up and formed a company called RCN. He signed an agreement with a
strong technical partner abroad because he wanted RCN to compete with ITT
in the provision of minor communication equipment like walkie-talkies. In a short period of time his efforts paid off and RCN
secured a three million dollar contract from the Nigerian government. But
that contract figure somehow became thirty million dollars by the time the
information was leaked to ITT headquarters. The company
management panicked and summoned him to its headquarters. Another round of
tough negotiations began and ended with Moshood’s ownership of 49 percent of ITT
That was how Moshood,
in his thirties, became one of Africa’s richest men. His orientation changed
completely afterward and his main interest became a quest for an ideological
meaning to his life. By then he had his philanthropy. At first it was on a
personal level. He bought houses for friends, paid school and medical bills for
strangers, and was generous to relatives. But gradually he came to feel that
this was not enough so he began helping institutions as well. That was when he
cultivated a habit that would eventually draw him into politics. He began
analyzing Nigerian leaders and their policies in order to learn from their
successes and their failures.

The Author & The GDA in rare pose with the book, ‘The President Who Never Ruled’

The first person
to fall under his radar was his good friend, General Murtala Mohammed.
could not find a fault in his style of governance. Speaking of one of
the general’s policies that he admired, Moshood once said, “The man has proven that he was sincere
when he announced that inflation is a major enemy of the state. That is why he
keeps cutting government expenditure. Nigerians have to support him”
He was reacting
to criticism about the determination of the military leader to reduce recurrent
government expenses. Another ideology that Moshood admired General Mohammed for was
the General’s conviction about the paramount role that the private sector must
play in the advancement of the Nigerian economy. But, at the same time, he
wanted the general to increase his efforts in making more Nigerians aware about
the importance of the private sector in order to avoid any public opposition to
the privatization program that he knew that the general would soon roll out.
It was clear
back then that Moshood had become a philosopher merchant or an ideological
entrepreneur with a keen interest in philanthropy rather than just a regular
businessman concerned only about profit. This was the genesis of the bridge
that always linked him to politics till it eventually transported him into it. Moshood
truly believed that he was lucky to have the listening ear of a military
president who was leading the country the right way, and who would make it easy
for him, Moshood, to participate in politics when the time was right.
But on the thirteenth of February, less than eight months after General
had become the military president of Nigeria; Moshood
woke up one day to learn that he had been assassinated on the way to the mosque
for Friday prayers.

MKO Abiola; The Star Child

…And MKO meets KUDI…
During this
period in his life, aside from developing a keen interest in politics, Moshood
also became a polygamist. One day, during a visit to a friend who worked in
another company, he saw a woman in an office near the building entrance. He was
stunned by her beauty. He stared at the woman whom he later described as the most
astonishing person he had ever seen in his entire life.
The only thing
that was ordinary about her, according to him, was her moderate height.
Everything else was outstanding. Especially her eyes that he said sparkled like
emeralds, while her fair skin was so clear that it reminded him of transparent

Kudirat Abiola, the Beauty MKO never let escape his eyes

He walked towards
her office. He was nervous. The closer he came, the sharper her attraction
became. What surprised him the most was that she was unaware of the effect she
was having on him. She was busy with her work, looking at some files with her
innocently attractive eyes, and did not even know he existed. But yet, she was
all that mattered to him at that moment.
He looked at her
fingers and smiled when he noticed that she was not wearing a marriage ring. He
finally announced his arrival. “Good
morning Miss! I apologize for not knowing the name of such a glamorous woman”

The GDA in a hearty chat with the Author, Abdul-Jamiu Abiodun Abiola

She looked up
briefly. She obviously did not recognize him so she ignored him and turned her
attention back to the file in front of her. Hoping that he had not offended
quickly added, “I am
sorry for barging in on you like this and, of course, for wasting your time. I
just wanted to say hello”.
There was still
no reaction. He decided to go on and keep his appointment with his friend. He
quietly left her office, hoping that she would call him back, but she did not.
Knowing that he would be unable to get her out of his mind, his plan was to
find out all he could about her from his friend and once he reached his office,
after exchanging greetings, he could barely wait. “If my enemies knew that I had a friend like you, they would
His friend did not get a chance to respond. “If you were indeed a good friend, you would have told me that
Nigeria’s most mesmerizing woman is working in this building and with this
. Seeing the puzzled look on his friend’s face, Moshood
added, “I am referring to the very
light-skinned woman who works in an office right next to the entrance. That
woman has the face of a baby and the disposition of an angel. She looks
foreign. Is she part Indian?”
His friend laughed. “I know who you mean. It must be Kudirat” He paused before adding. “Come to think of it, she does look foreign,
but not Indian. More like a Somalian. But on a more serious note, she is
Nigerian and must be even Yoruba because her last name is Adeyemi”
Moshood became eager to
know more about her. He asked his friend a lot of questions but did not learn
much more. “I don’t know anything about
her other than what I have told you already. I just returned from a three-week
leave and she had not yet started working here when I left”
Surprised by Moshood’s
curiosity, he asked, “By the way, aren’t
you married already? Don’t put me in trouble with your wife”
Moshood laughed. “Of course I am married. And I am also a
Muslim, so I can have four wives. Some say even more. Now if you really want to
stay out of trouble, keep that in mind
” Both men laughed then his host
asked him teasingly. “Don’t you have to
go to Mecca before doing that?”
They both burst
out laughing again then spoke about other matters. After an hour, Moshood
left. But on his way out, he deliberately peeked inside Kudirat’s office.
Tempted, he went to the door and cracked it slightly open. She seemed to be on
her way out. Avoiding eye contact with her, he stated timidly. “I wanted to apologize for the way that I
entered your office earlier. I don’t know what came over me”
“You again?; What is your problem?” This was the
first time he had heard her voice. He panicked but before he could respond, she
spoke again. “Please step out of my
Moshood was nervous but
remained adamant. “Can I just have five
minutes of your time? Not more, I promise”.
 He did not wait for her to agree. He sat in an
empty chair in front of her desk. Trying to appear at ease, as if he was in his
own office, he looked at her and confidently uttered, “Please feel at home. Why are you standing?”

Dignatories @ the Launching of ‘The President who Never Ruled’

That was how Moshood
and Kudirat
met. He would visit her many more times over a span of three years and discovered
that they had a lot in common. They were both from Ogun state and had both grown up in polygamous families. Neither of
them was born into a wealthy family and they had both helped their parents with
their businesses when they were children. Furthermore Kudirat, just like Moshood,
had been the head girl in her secondary school.
For Moshood
it was love at first sight. Kudirat, on the other hand, grew to
love him with time when she felt certain that it would be hard for her to find
another man like him who had the humility, principles, and great intellect that
she had always admired in her father. Moshood and Kudirat got married and
she became his second wife and the woman who bore the most of children for him.
(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 How OBJ, Shagari & Others broke MKO’s heart in our next post
on this blog)