Abdul Abiola is the second to the last born of Kudirat Abiola
By Dapo Akinrefon
NINETEEN years after your father’s death, how would you describe him?
To me, when I was growing up, he was obviously larger than life. He was always smiling. As a kid, growing up in this house and seeing him, I always wanted to be with him because he was a problem solver. I saw then when people came to ask for favours and my dad would always listen, it did not matter who the person was.
It could be the gateman or any highly placed persons, my father would sit down and listen to the person. That was what struck me that as a great man, he had time for everybody.
We don’t really have that in Nigeria. There are some people, when they get to a certain level, they start praising themselves. My dad always wanted to remember where he came from and that was one of the reasons he built his house in Ikeja because he said he wanted to be among the people.
How did you receive the news of his death?
When my dad died, I was in the United States of America at that time. I had heard that Abacha had died a month before he did, so I was excited and happy that very soon my dad would come out and I would get to see him again. Unfortunately, when he actually died, my elder sister did not inform me because at that time, we were living in Maryland, USA. I did not know until after a couple of months later when I heard on the news. It was after that my elder sister broke the news to us. I was not pleased about it because I had so many questions I wanted to ask him.
I decided to move on and used that as a strength to move on. That is why I believe that what does not kill you, only makes you stronger.
How has life been without him?
My dad was a great man. He was more of an anchor where people naturally gravitate to and he was the one to give directions. I believe that everybody has a role to play and I believe that my dad has played his role, he has done his part. For me, even after everything happened, my mum always taught me not to look at material things or money as the be-all and end-all.
Sometimes, you can get more benefits and the benefits does not need to be financial, it could be emotional. I have learned a lot. I see things as an experience. You only have to make the best out of every situation you find yourself. After his death, we basically had to plan ourselves. It was not easy but we made it work. Now that I am back home with my brothers, we have always been strong and that bond has always made us strong. For us, we rallied around each other, we supported each other. God has really brought us togther.
Before his death, your father had friends and associates, does his name open doors for you his children?
One thing I do know about my father and the Abiola name is that the name open doors but just because I have a name does not give me the authority to start flinging it about and start asking for favours, it does not work that way. When I actually use my name, I also try to bring in something. It is not enough to just be an Abiola and expect to be given an handout. I do not expect to be given a handout. In my own little way, it is all about giving back, it has never really been about what I am taking. I want to be known by my first name and not by what my father has done in the past. So, that is what I am trying to work on, it should be my image.