Published Sept 21, 2019
Kudirat Abiola, the mother of Abdulmumuni, son of the late acclaimed winner of June 12, 1993 presidential election, Bashoru MKO Abiola, was assassinated a few kilometres from their family home in Ikeja, Lagos, in 1996. Her brutal murder by people believed to be agents of the then military administration of the late Gen Sani Abacha occurred while Abiola himself was being detained by the junta, leaving not only Abdulmumuni and his siblings but the entire African nation in shock.
A few days later, Abdulmumuni and his younger siblings were ferried out of the country through the famous NADECO bush-track on Nigerian border with Cotonou to France and then to the United States of America where they re-united with their other siblings. It was a sordid experience for a child who had grown used to going into his mother’s wardrobe, taking as much money as he needed for the day, exchanging the foreign currencies for local currencies at a local FOREX shop, and using the money to buy his classmates lunch and assisting other people he met on the way.
Now in his in his early 30s and married with two children, Abdulmumuni looks back to those years with courage, gratitude and even with stronger determination to uphold his father’s legacies.
“Some people think I am my father’s last son, but I am not,” he said. “I am second to the last for Alhaja Kudirat Abiola.
“I have younger siblings. I know of Mama Ayo, my stepmom, and her daughter Dami who is actually the last in the house. But I know that my dad had other children outside the house. So I might have someone somewhere who is younger.
“The idea is not who is younger or older; the idea is that we all come together and work towards a common purpose, which is to make everyone okay.”
Abdul, as he is fondly called, says he had lived with two ‘strong’ pains all his life. “And funny enough, they are the two things that my father held dear in his life. The first is the happiness of my family, the second is vthe happiness of the nation.
“My father wanted us to do well as a family. He wanted to provide for his family and even at death, he left us wealth with provision for everyone of us. But till today, his will has not been executed. The will was straightforward. It said that all assets should be identified and shared equally among all his children. So, I don’t know how much would have come to me, but he made provision for all his children in his will.
“In executing the will, we have been having issues and setbacks which we are trying to rectify now. And my father’s first son is central to all the issues related to the administration of the will.
“I believe that my father’s assets belong to all the children. I believe that a person’s command or his last words should be followed to the letter, and his will as at the time he died said that all his properties should be shared equally among his children. Now, it is over 20 years after and nothing has been shared, which means that MKO Abiola’s last wish has not been honoured.
“He came up with an idea and a plan for after his life. What is right for anybody to do is to follow that plan to the last letter, since the owner of the plan is not around to follow it.
“So, the fact that he articulated his plan in a paper and domiciled it in a bank shows that he meant for those commands to be executed. I find it disturbing that over 20 years later, nothing has been done.
“In my zeal to right the wrong, I tried to stimulate some kind of action within the family. I told them that I would speak up. I told them that they can’t eat their cake and have it at the same time.
“I told them that if you don’t want to be part of the execution of the will, please excuse yourself. Do not say that you don’t want to be part of the will and at the same time parade yourself as the chairman of the estate. It is a very shady business happening here.
“So in my zeal to right the wrong, I began to get things that looked like threats. My employees were being hounded, prosecuted in a bid to make me feel isolated and afraid. But you know, we in the Abiola family are like that; when you push us to the wall, that is actually when we become more courageous.
“I spoke out just that a wrong should be corrected. It was not meant to fight with my siblings but to obey my father’s wish. And his last wish wasn’t more than to see his family taken care of when he was gone.
“This is what happens around the world. People die and leave a will, and their wills are executed to the last letter. Why is that of the Abiola family different?”
Abdulmumuni also recalled that his father wanted a country with happy people.
“That was why when he was coasting to victory in the 1993 elections, prices of foodstuffs had already started falling in the market. That was the first time that prices were coming down at will in Nigeria. It was a sign of the good things to come.”
Asked what he thinks of President Mohammadu Buhari with regard to the family, he said: “Our whole family is excited with the President. I was elated when I heard the President had finally honoured my father post-humously. I had just closed from work on that day and decided to stop and see a friend. We were having drinks when an egbon (elder brother) of mine called from Osun to say, ‘Olorun ti se (God has done it)’; that Chief MKO Abiola had finally been honoured.
“It was indeed a huge surprise because none of us was contacted beforehand.”
But there is still one thing he wants Mr President to do, and that is to also remember that Chief MKO Abiola won the election not for himself alone.
“He won for the common man, the middle class and for the upper class. So, Mr President should look at his manifesto and try to address some of those issues therein that made people to vote for Abiola, issues which Abiola was to come in to address.
“It was the quality of those issues in the manifesto that people voted for, and Abiola was determined to change the lives of the people. As a matter of fact, prices had started crashing in the market. That will go a longer way in honouring Chief MKO Abiola. I believe that this President can do it.
“I congratulate the President, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola and the other ministers, and I believe that with these patriots, the country is on the path to prosperity.
“I believe that Nigeria will be a better place. We should just continue moving in the right direction. We should have started in 1993 but we didn’t, and we have lost years.
“We also lost international image during the Abacha years as things degenerated with so many people fleeing the country. My father was espousing ideas that were beyond our time. His ideas would have ignited the flame of Africa. Nigeria lost. Africa lost too.”
But how old was Abdulmumuni when the June 12 epoch making event took place?
He responded: “I was young at the time it all started in 1993. Some could say I was a mere child. But I was absorbing a lot of information. I saw my mum fighting for what she believed in and I saw Nigerians from all walks of life and from different parts of the country in our house, meeting and strategising on what to do and how to move democracy forward.
“I saw some of our prominent leaders, the likes of Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, having restless nights. Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola at the time was a youth leader, and many more people who put all into the fight.
“That cushioned the effect of missing my mum, because I saw how people rose, and I remember that it was during that period that we had the longest strike ever in Nigeria. So, it was an intense period.
“I was at school then at Avi Cenna International School. I could tell that there was a monumental event that was traversing the country. And I noticed that there was a transformation from a Nigeria where you are just taking what is given to you, a Nigeria where you know what you want and you are requesting for it.
“That was really a cool thing to see. And to know that my mum was at the head of that uprising, because at that time, my father was already incarcerated, it was really something.
“I lost my mum. Of course, I was sad but I understood what she fought for. A week after the assassination took place, my younger brother left the country to be with my other siblings in the United States of America. All I could remember was that we came together.
“I lost my dad two years later, and within that period, everyone just found a way of taking care of one another. It was very abrupt. No one prepared for it, because they were all friends.
“You know, one going after the wife of another really shows an act of desperation and the state of the country at that particular time, and what sacrifice needed to have been made to get the country out of those shackles.
“I knew then that it was not just an Abiola fight; it was the nation’s fight. There’s no better honour than to sacrifice your life for your country. That is why I think that soldiers, policemen and others who secure our borders should be given a high status in the country. They are doing it for the future of the nation.
“So I was aware of the Abiola struggle and I knew it was selfless. It was for the future of the country.” his lifestyle, saying: “I have always felt like I am the son of a president. Of course, he has recently been given the honour reserved for presidents and he actually won the election. We went for election. I was having protection as his son. I had a walkie talkie to communicate with security. I had a code name.
“Our house was always packed. You would think you were meeting with the president if you came to see my father. When my father used to travel to other countries, he was used to being received as a head of state. So, I had always felt like I was the son of the president.
“He was going to America in his private jet, going to Ogun State in a helicopter in 1991. At that point, I thought there wasn’t anything else that my father would put his hands on that wouldn’t turn to gold, because at that point, he had conquered every other thing. He even conquered the election.
“So, June 12 means different things to different people. To me, it assumes a personal feeling. June 12 for me was the end of my family life as I knew it, and the beginning of a political struggle.
“My dad running for office at the time was because he believed he could solve the problems of the nation. He thought he had solutions for the nation and he was able to convince majority of Nigerians to support him on the vision.”
The late Kuburat Abiola’s son also talked about co-operation in his father’s house.
“The cooperation of the family has been ongoing. We have the matriarch of the family, Chief Mrs Bisi Abiola, who has been striving to keep the family as one, protecting the children. She has tried her utmost best to keep the family going. She has been trying hard in maintaining daddy’s house.
“She’s been very supportive of my mother’s siblings and almost all of the Abiola children who come seeking advice or support. We thank God for her. My brother, Alhaji Kola Abiola, does not come to the house; so how does he even know what is going on in the house? How does he know how the house is kept?
“But Mama is still there. She had a choice to leave. The house is massive. And you know, there are other properties around. And, you see, most of these properties are in dilapidated state. The one that I was able to refurbish was the Concord property, and I thank God that I was able to do something about it. If not, that place would have also been idle.
“I wonder what the thought process is in keeping idle viable assets that are prime assets to just wither away. I wonder the principle behind such business sense. And I think the children should just take a lead.
“There are some of Abiola’s children from all over who are trying to come together, to have some kind of unified front. I believe that the only way we all can benefit from being family is to first come together. So, the best that we are working on now is to do a reunion where we can all come together, get to know each other and from there ignite the Abiola genius. After that, only God knows where that will lead us to.
“As at today, the head of the Abiola family is Chief Mrs Bisi Abiola. She has been able to keep some certain standards that we are proud of. We thank her for all the support and pray that God continues to give her the strength to continue.”
And what is the reason behind his seeming fondness for the former governor of Osun state, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola?
“My relationship with Ogbeni Rauf Aragbesola has been that of a father and a son. He has mentored me. He is a people’s person, someone I admire. I am proud to have been part of his administration while he was in the State of Osun, and I still do work closely with him and his family.
“He is someone I can discuss closely with. He was part of the struggle and used to be a student leader during the struggle. I cherish our relationship. I am happy that he has been given the responsibility of a minister, and I know he will show his stuff in the fight against insecurity through his position. He is a man who is well read and continues to read. He keeps getting information and that’s a quality of a good leader.”
How much wealth has he gained from his late father and how wealthy is he at present?
To this, he laughed; then wore a serious look and said: “Yes, I was born with a silver spoon, but I haven’t really enjoyed my father’s personal wealth because we have a management issue.
“What I can say I have inherited from my father is his name. A name is a powerful tool and you can’t easily change it. If it is good it is good, and if it is bad, it is bad. My father was able to over the years carve an image for himself and his family.
“I have been fortunate to be such a man. And I have been fortunate to benefit from his death. I can tell you that too many times this has happened to me. I had my son and we were trying to get him a board on which he could write since he had got to the age of writing on walls and we didn’t want him writing on the walls in the house. My wife at the time confided in her colleague in the office and that one asked who her husband is. When she told him, her colleague replied: ‘Ah, that stubborn boy!”
“Her colleague recalled that she was in the house one day with her mum to seek assistance for something when I went into my mummy’s room to ask for money for school. In those days, when I needed money, I just went to my mother and I got what I wanted.
“She happened to be asleep because she used to sleep late because of the number of people they needed to attend to. I went to her wardrobe and took as much as I needed: local money and foreign currency.
“So, her colleague was in the house on that day and probably saw what I got for the day was what they needed to solve their entire problem. So, what I can say is that wealth is relative.
“In those days, I used to get the money to buy food and drinks for all my classmates and get to a Mallam, change the foreign currency and still used it to assist people. So I think that people put the cart before the horse. The question should not be how much you are spending, it should be how much are you making?
“The money I am spending today is not the money that my father had put in the bank. It is the wealth that my father invested in Nigerians, in everyone he came across. And that is the most precious kind of wealth. If because of a name, a door can open for you, then I think that is the best way to invest.
“But at the same time, it should not be total dependence on someone’s name. The name could open the door, but you as a person will still have to make a good impression of yourself.”
For those who do not know it, Abdulmumuni is now Ghana-based, and he told us why he had to move down to Ghana.
He said: “I’m in Ghana to gain more knowledge. My parents believed in education. I’m here at the University of Ghana for a B.Sc in Business Administration to be a productive member of the society.
“My parents also believed in poverty eradication and sustainable development. I would be depriving my constituency of the best if I do not gain more knowledge to lift them up in the society.
“I have been trying to manage my life between Nigeria and Ghana so I can get immersed in the process. I don’t just want to go through school; I want the school to go through me too.
“I believe it is a good time to pursue further education as a window to fulfill my greater potential. And why in Ghana? It is to concentrate. I need to separate my academics from the issues.
“Again, I was looking for a place where I would not be too far from my children too.
“I got married in 2010, had my daughter in 2011 and my son in 2012. I married a Nigerian lady from Ogun State. She is actually mixed because she is also partly from the Niger Delta. Her mother is from Bayelsa. She has the qualities of a wife, which are honesty and trust; so we have been salvaging it together.” Credit: The Nation