By Osa Amadi, Arts Editor
Every normal person should be interested in listening to someone as close to MKO Abiola as his son, Jamiu, talk about MKO’s stolen presidency, the murder of Jamiu’s mother, Kudirat for the same cause, and the poisoning of MKO himself to permanently put an end to his struggle to reclaim the mandate given to him by the Nigerian people to be president. Jamiu Abiola, who was about 17 when his father and mother were deceived, robbed, and murdered, is courageous to have returned from the United States to live in Nigeria, a country which many of her important persons of means has abandoned and vowed never to return.
Among the things that would disturb, not surprise the reader, is the way the author is disillusioned about his country, Nigeria. Forty days after Jamiu’s mother, Kudirat, was cut down by Sargeant Roger’s bullets, Jamiu returned to Nigeria from USA for prayer for his mother according to Islamic tradition. “After the 40-day prayer, I began executing my plans. I was already sick of being in Nigeria and wanted to leave as soon as possible,” he wrote on page 9 of his latest book, The Stolen Presidency.
Before that, Jamiu had written of his mother on page 6: “Her dream was to become an industrialist and, for that purpose, she planned building a state-of-the-art pharmaceutical factory a year before my father’s election. She was now gone, thanks to politics in a barbaric country, along with her dreams.”
Fearing for her safety, Jamiu had warned his mother several times about how dangerous her ‘skirmishes’ with the barbaric Nigerian military was, but Kudirat had decided to stand by her husband and fight for him after MKO was incarcerated. “Why did my mother stand in front of a moving train? Why had she not thought about the fate of her seven children in her absence? Why are Nigerians not revolting against the military ruler who arrested their president after stealing his presidency?” Jamiu asks on page 96.
On July 11, 1994, MKO Abiola had clambered through the back wall of his house, foiling over 600 security agents which Abacha had posted in front of his house to keep him under house arrest. His destination was Epetedo, and his mission was to declare himself President of Nigeria!
Jamiu was not in Nigeria when his father declared himself president. When he returned after his father’s death, one of his aunties gave him a copy of his father’s written daring speech which MKO had read that day to his audience. After reading the copy of the speech, Jamiu said “I was terrified…No wonder my mother had said my father had told her that the speech would either lead to his presidency or to his assassination….
“In that speech, my father completely condemned all the years of military rule, an act for which I was certain that Nigeria’s autocratic rulers would never forgive him….My father, for instance, described Nigeria’s army generals to his audience as ‘thieves of your mandate….’ He accused the military of being responsible for all Nigeria’s woes, citing the drug trade, Civil War, and credit card scams as major outcomes of military misrule and ended his speech with the slogan ‘enough is enough’ before a retired judge swore him in as the Nigerian president.”
The stolen presidency documents both local and international conspiracy against MKO Abiola and his mandate to rule Nigeria. “The West will never allow a man with such a revolutionary idea to assume the helms of affairs in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country and, of course, the custodian of the world’s sixth largest oil reserve,” someone had told Jamiu in USA…. “General Abacha, according to him, was not my father’s only enemy….The West had also turned against him and would never want him to rule.”
The author recalls some of the absurd, repulsive things that happened in those days, which we all knew about, but which are still repulsive to us as we hear them afresh from Jamiu. On page 103, he documents the debasing position taken by many of Nigeria’s traditional rulers and so-called royal fathers:
“…Over 60 kings from all over the country paid him (Abacha) a royal visit and begged him to contest the presidential election. They literally begged him, claiming that they were representing their subjects. Then (they) issued a joint statement in which they declared that no other Nigerian has the general’s credentials. I have not even mentioned prominent politicians from all parts of the country who had adopted the ‘No Abacha No Nigeria’ slogan.”
But on June 8, 1998, four days after the anniversary of Kudirat’s death and four days before the anniversary of MKO Abiola’s presidential election, Abacha dropped dead! On July 7, 1998, MKO Abiola followed suit, believed to have been poisoned by the Nigerian military in connivance with some international governments.
It is sad that almost 50 years after the Civil War and 25 years after the annulment of June 12 election and death of Kudirat and MKO because of it, not much has changed in Nigeria. In fact, condition in the country now is worse under a former military dictator and coupist who served under Abacha and his gang of robbers called government.
The Stolen Presidency is a grievous tale of treachery, murder, and barbaric conduct of a shameless and power-drunk military junta told by one of the closest victims. It is part of the story of a failed country, a story of disillusionment with fatherland which re-enforces the conviction of many of us that “We have no country.”
As an event, The Stolen Presidency takes its place alongside other tragic events like the January 15, 1966 Coup and its corollary pogrom against the Igbos in Northern Nigeria; the Nigerian-Biafran Civil War of 1967-1970; and the Asaba Massacre of October 5, 6, and 7, 1967 – all committed by the same and one Nigeria Army.
Abacha is dead, but many people – soldiers and civilians – who colluded with him to rape Nigeria and exterminate MKO Abiola, his wife, Kudirat and many others, are still alive today, prowling, enjoying their filthy lucre, receiving public accolades, and stealing more money from the system. Some have aspired to high public offices since then and succeeded and are still scheming to return. No justice. What a filthy and horrible country!
One valid question of which everyone knows the answer is this: If Tofa, MKO Abiola’s opponent had won the June 12, 1993 Presidential Election, would the Northern political and military hegemony have annulled the election and murdered Tofa and wife?
Other books by Jamiu Abiola are Realistic Hopes, The Prisoner of Conscience, and The President Who Never Ruled.