The Story Behind June 12, 1993

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Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, GCFR, was a Nigerian Yoruba businessman, publisher, politician and aristocrat of the Egba clan. This great man was born on the 24th of August, 1937, and he died on the 7th of July, 1998. He was the Aare Ona Kankafo XIV of Yoruba land.

MKO Abiola ran for president in the year 1993, many people believed that due to the initial election results that surfaced, that he was actually the winner of the election, but it was annulled by the preceding military president, Ibrahim Babangida based on allegations that the results were unfair and corrupt. Abiola received the award of GCFR almost 20 years after his death. The award was presented by President Muhammadu Buhari, and June 12 was declared as democracy day, but all these are just mercy after death.

Abiola gained the massive support of the people for the presidential elections across all geo-political zones and religious groups. He is among very few politicians that have accomplished such a great feat. By the time of his death, he had already become a symbol of democracy.

Abiola announced his candidacy for president in the month of February, 1993, this was after a previous round of presidential primaries that was cancelled by the military president Babangida. Abiola’s party was SDP, both SDP and their opposition NRC, held their presidential primaries in the month of March, 1993. SDP primaries held in Jos, and it was largely a three way contest between Abiola, Kingibe and Atiku, even though there were more aspirants.

Abiola was heavily supported by People’s Solidarity faction (PSP) within SDP while Atiku was supported by PF faction that was led by Yar’Adua, and Kingibe was supported by a loose coalition of party members. During the first ballot, Abiola was able to score a slim majority vote of 3,617 over Kingibe who scored 3,225. They did a second round two days later and Abiola again emerged victorious with a slim margin and he became the party’s presidential candidate of the June 12 elections.

Abiola’s political message was one of the most honest manifesto of all time in the history of Nigeria. His slogan was “Farewell to poverty”, ” At last! Our rays of Hope” and the “Burden of Schooling”.

His economic policies included negotiations with foreign creditors and better management of the country’s international debts, in addition to increased co-operation with the international community, and he also presented himself as a person that the international community could trust.

In the June 12 presidential elections, his running mate was his primary opponent Baba Gana Kingibe. International observers declared the election as the freest and fairest presidential election, with Abiola emerging as the winner over his Northern opponent, even in his home state Kano. Abiola won in Abuja by over two-thirds of Nigerian states. Moshood Abiola, who was a western Muslim, set a new record all over the country.

But the election was annulled by Ibrahim Babangida, this decision to annull the election caused a political crisis. Babangida handed over power to General Sanni Abacha. During preparations for the 2011 presidential elections, many people told Nigeria to remember our legendary MKO Abiola.

In the year 1994, Moshood Abiola declared himself as the lawful president of Nigeria, he did this in Epetedo area of Lagos Island, and area that is mainly populated by Yoruba indigenes. He had recently returned from a trip to win the support of the international community for his mandate.

After he declared himself as president, he was declared wanted and accused of treason, and he was arrested on the orders of the Military President, General Sanni Abacha, who sent 200 police vehicles to go and bring MKO Abiola into custody. MKO Abiola is referred to as Nigeria’s greatest statesman. His second wife, Alhaja Kudirat was assassinated in Lagos, in the year 1996, after she declared her public support for her husband.

Moshood Abiola was in detention for four years in a solitary confinement with a Bible, Qur’an, and fourteen guards. During that time, Pope John Paul II, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and human rights activists from all over the world were pressurising the Nigerian government to release the statesman.

The sole condition that was attached to the release of Chief Abiola, was that he renounced his mandate, this is something that he refused to do, although the military government offered to refund all his election expenses. For this reason, Chief Abiola was very troubled when Kofi Annan and Emeka Anyaoku reported to the world that he had agreed to renounce his mandate, after they met with him and told him that the world will not recognise a five year old election.

Abiola died under suspicious circumstances shortly after the death of General Sanni Abacha. Autopsy later revealed that Abiola died of natural causes, but Abacha’s Chief Security Officer, al-Mustapha had allegedly revealed that Moshood Abiola was beaten up to death.

Al-Mustapha was detained by the Nigerian government, he claimed that he has a video and audiotapes that shows how Abiola suffered a terrible beating that led to his death. The final autopsy report that was produced by a group of international coroners, was never ever publicly released. Regardless of the exact circumstances of Abiola’s death, it is clear that Chief Abiola received insufficient medical attention for his existing health conditions during that time according to Wikipedia.

BBC’s interview with special envoy Thomas R. Pickering, revealed that an American delegation that included Susan Rice, visited Abiola; during their meeting with him, Abiola fell ill, they suspect that a heart attack was part of the cause of his death.

Abiola might be gone, but he left a legacy behind that will remain as long as the name NIGERIA still exists. Rest on Baba.

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