The presumed winner of the June 12 1993 presidential election, Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, CFR, was often referred to as MKO Abiola. He was a popular Nigerian Yoruba businessman, publisher, politician and aristocrat of the Yoruba Egba clan.
Across Nigeria, at least the six states in the southwest had been celebrating June 12 a public holiday and are holding ceremonies in Abiola’s honour until President Muhammadu Buhari officially declared the day as Nigeria’s real democracy day.
Below are some facts about him you did not know:
1. His father thought he would die as a baby His middle name, Kashimawo, means “Let us wait and see”.
Moshood Abiola was his father’s twenty-third child but the first of his father’s children to survive infancy, hence the name ‘Kashimawo’. It was not until he was 15 years old that he was properly named Moshood, by his parents.
2. Businessman at a young age MKO showed entrepreneurial talents at a very young age.
At the age of nine he started his first business by selling firewood. He would wake up at dawn to go to the forest and gather firewood, which he would then cart back to town and sell before going to school, to support his old father and his siblings.
3. Music career He later founded a band at age fifteen where he would perform at various ceremonies in exchange for food.
He eventually became famous enough to start demanding payment for his performances and used the money to support his family and his secondary education at the Baptist Boys High School, Abeokuta, where he excelled.
4. Writing career He was the editor of the school magazine The Trumpeter, Olusegun Obasanjo was deputy editor. At the age of 19 he joined the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons ostensibly because of its stronger pan-Nigerian origin compared with the Obafemi Awolowo-led Action Group.
5. Accounting career In 1956, Moshood Abiola started his professional life as a bank clerk with Barclays Bank in Ibadan, South-West Nigeria.
After two years, he joined the Western Region Finance Corporation as an executive accounts officer, before leaving for Glasgow, Scotland, to pursue his higher education.
From Glasgow University he received a first class degree in accountancy, and he also gained a distinction from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland.
6. His businesses He set up Abiola Farms, Abiola Bookshops, Radio Communications Nigeria, Wonder Bakeries, Concord Press, Concord Airlines, Summit Oil International Ltd, Africa Ocean Lines, Habib Bank, Decca W.A. Ltd, and Abiola football club.
In addition to these, he also managed to perform his duties as chairman of the G15 business council, president of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, patron of the Kwame Nkrumah Foundation, patron of the WEB Du Bois foundation, trustee of the Martin Luther King Foundation, and director of the International Press Institute.
7. Family Moshood Abiola married many wives; notable among them are Simbiat Atinuke Shoaga in 1960, Kudirat Olayinka Adeyemi in 1973, Adebisi Olawunmi Oshin in 1974, Doyinsola (Doyin) Abiola Aboaba in 1981, Modupe Onitiri-Abiola and Remi Abiola. He fathered many children.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari announced on Wednesday, June 6, 2018, that June 12 would be celebrated as the new Democracy Day in Nigeria.
The president also announced that the late Chief Moshood Abiola who was adjudged the winner of the cancelled June 12, 1993 election would be posthumously awarded the highest honour in the land, GCFR.
The Question to be asked is, When actually should we be observing and celebrating the Democracy Day in Nigeria?