No election in Nigeria has so far broken the record of the 1993 elections in which the Presidential candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) won fair and square.
The election is still recorded as the fairest and freest election in the history of Nigeria where Nigerians set aside religious and tribal sentiments to favour the Muslim-Muslim ticket of the SDP.
The election was annulled by General Ibrahim Babangida in controversial circumstances, with its negative outcome still haunting the perpetrators and their collaborators.
MKO Abiola declared himself as the President of Nigeria in 1994 at Epetedo, Lagos State after returning from foreign trip to seek the support of the international community for this purpose. Abiola captured the extent to which he had sacrificed for the enthronement of democracy:
“People of Nigeria, you are all witnesses that I have tried to climb the highest mountain, cross the deepest river and walk the longest mile, in order to get these men to obey the will of our people.”
“There is no humiliation I have not endured, no snare that has not been put in my path, no “setup” that has not been designed for me in my endeavour to use the path of peace to enforce the mandate that you bestowed on me one year ago. It has been a long night. But the dawn is here.”
General Sanni Abachi led military government declared him wanted for treason and later arrested.
Abiola’s wife, Alhaja Kudirat was assassinated in Lagos in 1996 for championing the release of his husband and mandate freely given to him by Nigerians.
MKO Abiola insisted on his mandate and was arrested and incarcerated by General Sanni Abacha military junta after a coup against the Interim National Government of Chief Earnest Sonekan hurriedly put in place by Babangida.
MKO Abiola spent four years in detention and refused to renounce his mandate after notable world leaders lobbied the military government for his release.
Abiola died in detention in a mysterious circumstance under the watch of General AbdulsSalam Abubakar, who took over as the Head of State after the death of General Abacha. He died on the day he was to be released.
Chief Olusegun Obasanjo came to power in 1999 as elected President after years of military incursion in the governance of Nigeria. Despite benefitting from the sacrifices of Chief MKO Abiola who ultimately lost of his life and business empire for the enthronement of democracy, Obasanjo and successive presidents failed to adequately recognise the enormous sacrifice.
About 25 years after the annulment of the election, President Muhammadu Buhari recognised the contribution of late Chief MKO Abiola by awarding him posthumous GCFR on 6th June, 2018. Apart from changing Nigeria’s Democracy Day to June 12 from May 29, President Buhari also named national institutions such as the Abuja stadium after him.
MKO Abiola Vision –
The Manifesto of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in which Chief MKO Abiola was the flag bearer had a blueprint of transforming Nigeria. The manifesto tagged “Hope ‘93”. Abiola was also known with slogans such as “Farewell to poverty” “At last! Our rays of Hope” and the “Burden of Schooling”. He spelt out how he was going to take Nigeria out of the economic challenges by negotiating with foreign creditors and management of Nigeria’s international debt. He also spelt out strategies of increasing cooperation with foreign countries and get set to use his world wide influence for the benefits of Nigeria.
The 71 pages manifesto of MKO Abiola as the presidential candidate of SDP was tagged: “Hope ’93, Farewell To Poverty: How To Make Nigeria A better Place For All”. It focused on economic transformations, political reform, new and beneficial foreign policy, among others.
Former Governor of Lagos and chieftain of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu asked his party to adopt the manifesto of Chief MKO Abiola. This shows the relevance of is proposed programmes in the manifesto to the development of Nigeria.
Tinubu who stated this while receiving the family of late MKO Abiola in 2018 said that the best way to immortalise Abiola is to adopt his Hope ’93 manifesto.
Achievements of MKO Abiola
In the last 20 years of return to democracy in 1999, all the achievements of Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Musa Yar’dua, Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari could be attributed to Chief MKO Abiola who watered the democratic desert in Nigeria.
MKO Abiola started involving in politics at the age of 19 through the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC). He rose to become the State Chairman of National Party of Nigeria (NPN) in 1980. His party won president election twice and billed to fly the flag of his party but was not achieved due the 1983 military coup.
After intense pressure, General Ibrahim Babangida wanted to return Nigeria to civilian rule. Abiola won the Presidential Primary of Social Democratic Party (SDP) defeating Ambassador Baba Gana Kingibe and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar to contest for the June 12, 1993 elections.
As a teenager in Abeokuta in 1993, I can feel the aroma of hope and the serenity in the air as his campaign slogan and programmes spread throughout Nigeria.
As a successful businessman, it was evidenced that he was set to transform the economic fortunes of Nigeria. His business empire cut across the world. Just like many Nigerians, I personally benefited from the services and products of his group of companies. This include the Wonder Bakeries, Cord Press, Abiola Football Club and Abiola Bookshop.
Till date, MKO Abiola continued to be remembered all over the world for his immense contributions to the enthronement of democracy in Nigeria. June 12 is now public holiday and declared as Democracy Day in Nigeria (as against May 29) beginning from June 12, 1999. Before then, Lagos, Ogun, Oyo and Osun State announced June 12 of every year as public holiday.
Who Is MKO Abiola
Chief MKO Abiola, Grand Commander of Federal Republic (GCFR) was born on 24th August 1937 in Abeokuta, Ogun State to the family of Salawu and Suliat Wuraola Abiola.
and died on the 7th of July, 1998. He was a successful business mogul, politician and philanthropist. He was the 13th Aare Ona Kankafo XIV of Yorubaland.
This is a unique chieftaincy title which conferred the responsibility of ceremonial Warrior of his tribe, the Yorubas. The Yoruba tradition has it that the Aare Ona Kakanfo is destined to die as a warrior in the defence of his people. Rather than defending the Yoruba, MKO Abiola offers his life in defense of Nigeria.
MKO Abioka Is The Best Nigerian President Of All Time
Nigeria will commemorate 60 years of independence next year (2020). I have searched the political history of Nigeria and examined the contributions of democratically elected presidents of my dear country since 1960, I am convinced beyond reasonable doubt that Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawole (MKO) Abiola is a symbol of Democracy in Nigeria and the best President Nigerians never have.