The June 12 1993 Election has come and gone but the memories of that year will forever linger around in the heart of Nigerians. The outcome of the election led to the death of Nigeria’s most celebrated democrat, MKO Abiola.
The election results came out and MKO Abiola won but due to some reasons, it was annulled by General Ibrahim Babangida. This brought about a lot of reactions and in a bid to reclaim victory, some died in the process.
On the 12th of June, 2018, MKO Abiola was honoured with the GCFR Title with his Vice by President Buhari but further researches carried out by Sahara weekly revealed that those who actually fought for Abiola, those who were with him even before election weren’t mentioned.
In an interview with one of them, Chief Abimbola Aboderin, the elder brother of Deceased Punch MD, Wale Aboderin, he revealed a lot of things that weren’t known to the public.
Excerpts below :
Q – Can we meet you?
R – My name is Chief Abimbola Aboderin, I’m an industrialist, .Although I studied Banking and finance in California, , I also do property business.
Q – We understand you have a strong relationship with the late MKO Abiola, how did it all started?
R – Late Abiola was a very close friend of mine, it all started when I came from US In 1980. I came to the house to see my father who was an industrialist and a politician at the beginning With the likes of Late Adegoke Adelabu and Awolowo. So that day when I came to see my late father, I saw Abiola on the floor because my father was sitting at the Water front house.
I saw someone lying there, I didn’t know who he was and I asked my father. He said his name was Abiola, I didn’t know who he was. He saw me and greeted me and asked me to come see him later. He wanted my father to convince the Yorubas to be on his side and that Was in the early 80s. So, I went to see him and we discussed. We didn’t see again for a while until the day I met him again in Ibadan at the late Chief Lamidi Adedibu’s home who happened to be living in one of the properties my father gave him. I was like his landlord. My father gave him little of the property when he came to request for help from him but he put me in control of it. Adedibu was anxious to see me so I met Abiola there for the second time. He greeted me and told me he is afraid of the convention towards his nomination that he knows he will win the general election but the convention is his problem.
We became friends, Also I got to know General Ibrahim Babaginda through the armed forces. He introduced Yaradua to me and General Alimi,. The three of them were my friends. I was one of the special Monitory group and while we were canvassing for votes, it was obvious that Kingibe and Atiku were leading, Atiku was using Yaradua’s structure so we didn’t know what to do again and Adedibu suggested we go to Yaradua’s house., He took a few people there and at the end of the day, he was able to convince him to ask Atiku to step down so all his delegates now voted for MKO and that was how he won the convention.
He only beat Kingibe with few delegates. so we were all happy and jubilated. I didn’t stay with them but ayed in a hotel with a doctor and Abiola’s lawyer, Chief Abimbola. We were close and they call us President’s men. After the victory, Adedibu suggested we visit Yaradua to show appreciation. We got there and as Abiola’s right hand, I was given a package to give Yaradua to thank him, sincerely, Adedibu played a key role in Abiola’s political journey. As we came out of Yaradua’s home, I was throwing some cash and everyone was jubulating but some people were not happy and wanted to kill Adedibu. They started shooting . Luckily, I had my car with Lagos number escaped the assassination attempt. If not for the game we played during the convention, Abiola would have lost that election.
it was very crucial because he told me personally. Afterwards, we formed a committee towards the general election and we started raising money for the Late MKO because no matter how rich you are, you must raise money for politics. Thus, the day we commenced preparation towards the election, , Abiola came with his wife, Bisi. He organised his three wives into three zones. Bisi was for West, Soyinka handles the East and Kudi was North. We raised about 360 Million cash and some few cheques. The money was in my custody from 6 o’clock till the next morning, if I had removed N50Million then I would have bought a house at GRA then ( smile) but iI’m not desperate becaise am comfortable. The next morning, the lawyer came, we handed the money to Chief Adedibu and all of us drove to Lagos to see Abiola at home.
We jubilated again and said we will win the general election by God’s grace. Everything was in our favour and you can see that Abiola was winning all over the country. The election was very peaceful, the best so far in Nigeria. We then drove to Abiola’s house after the election and went up stairs where we normally have our meetings
Even before that, lets talk about the issue of Vice Presidential candidate. IBB and Abiola were good friends. They were always talking, it wasn’t a tribal thing., What happened was that when two people were nominated from what Abiola told us, Bafau and Matama Sule. They were the credible people. Bafau was head of the labour at that time, so we said if we choose those people, kingibe will not be happy because he was the party chairman and he can play games.
We asked the lawyer to go to Abiola and tell him Ambassador Babagana Kingibe was the man we chose., That’s how he got there,. He used to sit down very quietly at Abiola’s place , he didn’t know how his nomination has Vice president came about. But I think when Abiola told IBB, about the choice of Kingibe as Vice president, he was not happy.
Q – So IBB Preferred either of those two to Ambassador Babagana Kingibe ?
R – Yes,! It’s ts not as if the doesn’t like him but he prefers those people. Back to the election, While we were all jubilating, we just suddenly heard the election was cancelled. We were shocked.
Abiola asked us what’s the solution? His lawyer started a legal action. We were the first to start the legal action against the Government. We went to Mr Afe Babalola to discuss, people were ready to fight but to me it wasn’t a war issue. It was just an issue between two friends.
Q – When the election was annulled, what was MKO’S Reaction and did he try to reach IBB?
R – At that time, they were not really talking on phone again., Abiola was angry too so we got some people from Ibadan to protect Abiola. Another issue is that some people betrayed Abiola by divulging what we discussed to Babangida and vice versa., Some people were like that because they wanted money. They were political jobbers . They came between the two of them,l. Our plan was that Abiola should go abroad and declare so they can call him over to be president but unfortunately, the struggle was hijacked by NADECO. I know you cant declare king in a cabinet of Lion, and Abacha was already in power., That was the beginning of the problem
He was locked up. We tried our best to get him out. We went to Abacha and Adedibu tried to convince him to release Abiola but they took it seriously and I can’t blame him. If there was diplomacy, they could have settled the issue between two friends. At the end of the day, Abiola died. it was a very painful day for me especially for a man who has worked so hard for him.
Q – As someone who was close to IBB, Did you at any point in time during or after the annulment tried to get IBB’s Opinion?
R – Unfortunately, when I was with Abiola, IBB didn’t know. I didn’t see him for a while. When he became president, I only saw him once.
Q – During the Annulment, How did Abiola react and what did he say about IBB? IBB Said he annulled the election because of his own life, do you believe?
R – I believe Abiola had issues with some people in the armed forces. He made a mistake by calling them Bad dogs., Probably they were not happy that a man that could abuse them is coming in but Abiola meant well for the people. I believe it is possible that IBB was scared because some soldiers might not want Abiola to be there. They were good friends.
Q – Would it be right to say MKO Was betrayed by people close to him?
R – Yes, some of them took words from Abiola and told IBB. Sincerely, if we have engaged diplomacy as planned and getting him to declare his mandate abroad, it would have been better. It wasn’t a tribal thing but NADECO hijacked it and it spiral out of control. I can’t blame them. Everybody was angry with government.
Q – Talking about President Buhari’s honour of Abiola 25 years after, what is your take on that? Do you believe its the right time or it’s politically motivated?
R – Actually, he is right because it’s been a long period, it’s never too late to do justice. The man won the election. I think Buhari did a good thing.
Q – There was a story that Abiola said Kingibe was part of the people that betrayed him that he even started giving him salary as a vice-president immediately he picked him, how true is this?
R – I don’t know. That is between him and kingibe. He didn’t tell me that.
Q – Before the annulment, did late MKO Abiola have the premonition that such will happen?
R – No, because we were all happy. He was sure of victory and was shocked when it was annulled
Q – During the struggle, Kudirat lost her life too, were you still part of the struggle then or you decided to leave them because you didn’t agree with the way they were going with the struggle?
R – I didn’t agree with the radical approach. Even when Abacha took over from Ernest Sonekan, everyone rushed to Kudirat’s place and we were hoping Abacha would do something because he was talking with MKO too then. We were not happy with the struggle, because with little tact and diplomacy, it would have been different today. I commend Buhari for what he has done but most people honoured were not part of the real story. Adedibu, myself and the lawyer were the backbone behind the struggle because all decision were made by us.
Q- What did the lawyer say about the honour?
R – I called him. He was one of the Oba’s that were chosen to be at the event. His name is Oba Abimbola Jibola.
Q – Was he happy with the radical approach?
R – He wasn’t happy because it was annoying.
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