Nigeria as a political entity came into being in 1914 as a result of the amalgamation of the northern and southern protectorates of the geographical entity that the British colonialist once governed as a business known as the Royal Niger Company.
In 1960, political independence was granted to us by our colonial masters who had ruled the country through the Indirect Rule system of governance. Before the British government handed over power to Nigerians, the highest political office in the land was that of Governor-General even though there was no other governor elsewhere.
Since 1960 to date, the only two methods of changing government known to Nigerians are coup d’tat and elections. While elections are legitimate, military coups remain illegal until the perpetrators and emerging leaders enacted decrees to legalize their actions. Between the times a coup takes place and when the executors promulgate a decree to make it legal, if they are arrested, appropriate punishments including death sentence are often meted out to them. For example, in 1976, when Col. Dimka led a coup that ousted Gen. Murtala Mohammed, he was arrested and executed by firing squad by the Federal Government led by General Obasanjo. The same thing happened in 1990 when Gideon Okar attempted to overthrow General Ibrahim Babangida. The same fate also befell Maman Vatsa for equally attempting to unseat IBB.
Now that Chief M.K.O. Abiola has been declared a former President of Nigeria, will those who prevented him from ruling the nation be regarded as coup plotters? And if they are, will they still be arrested by Buhari and punished accordingly?
Well, whatever actions President Buhari chooses or fails to take in this regard will be an addition to a political model that was introduced to the country by late Bashorun M.K.O. Abiola.
Born into a poor peasant family like most other kids of his generation, Moshood Abiola probably began work on his political model by ensuring that he was educated despite all odds. The man was said to have fetched firewood for sale in order to assist his parents to ensure he completed his Primary and Secondary School education.
Abiola went into singing as a vocation to overcome the challenge of being a stammerer while growing up in his native village. He went to England to study accountancy through communal scholarship. The man worked as an accountant for Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) but resigned as a Chief Accountant.
In pursuit of total emancipation from abject poverty, the Egba born chief founded his first Company known as I.T.T. Nigeria Limited. The man made real money from his vast business empire which later expanded to include farming, bookstore, Newspaper publishing, Airline, shipping, manufacturing, sports, banking and so on. He equally spent money again, perhaps in furtherance of his political model, he made his money available to Nigerians through his awards of scholarships, promotion of sports, gainful employments, and donations to state governments, communities and individuals. He never discriminated against any Nigerian on any ground. Even as a polygamist, he married many non Yoruba Christians and Muslims alike.
While alive, MKO as he was fondly called was made the pillar of sports in Africa. He founded and personally funded the Abiola Babes Football Club of Abeokuta – a division one club that recruited players from every part of Nigeria and played alongside other notable clubs like Rangers International Football Club of Enugu, Bendel Insurance Football Club, Kano Pillars, Mighty Jets of Jos to mention but a few.
Abiola understood quite early that politics is a game of numbers and that for him to be politically relevant in Nigeria; he had to shift from the Awolowo political model and create his own. This necessitated his joining the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) in 1978 instead of the Unity Party of Nigeria (U.P.N.) which was more or less a party for the West. Abiola’s NPN won the presidential election that followed in 1979.
The business mogul remained a party financier and faithful loyalist, keeping everyone in the dark concerning his ambition to be the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeira someday. He did all he could for NPN without demanding for a federal appointment of any sort.
In March 1980, the political demagogue floated a Newspaper organization known as Concord Press Nigeria Limited and began the publication of National Concord Newspaper. While the Tribune Newspaper owned by the leader of the Unity Party of Nigeria, Chief Obafemi Awolow functioned as the mouthpiece of the opposition party, the National Concord took it upon himself to defend and promote the interest of the NPN, not only in the West but across the length and breadth of Nigeria.
The Abiola Propaganda machinery and model through the National Concord was so effective that the NPN “captured” the states of Oyo, Ondo and Bendel from UPN in the 1983 general elections.
In 1984 when virtually all the state governors under Buhari as Head of State begged for alms to make ends meet, M.K.O Abiola donated lavishly to all the states. He equally donated money for almost all the Federal Universities to build hostels without insisting that such buildings be named after him.
Abiola equally made friends among the military leaders, including IBB. In fact, he was reputed as a man who co-sponsored most of the coups that took place in Nigeria before 1993.
When IBB once again lifted the ban on party politics in 1992, it was not difficult for MKO to clinch the presidential ticket of his party – the Social Democratic Party (SDP) to run against Alhaji Tofa of the National Republican Covention (NRC). Abiola’s campaign was minimal as he had done so much for every zone of the country as a philanthropist and successful businessman. He won the election with about 8million votes against Tofa’s 6million. He thus became the first Yoruba man to win a federal election of such magnitude. Abiola’s model of politics is so interesting to study for many reasons. In the first place, the man had never contested an election before then. Secondly, he was not known to have been appointed into any state or federal government executive or legislative arm in the past. And thirdly, he contested as a Muslim with another Muslim running mate without anyone raising an eye-brow.
When the election was annulled, MKO refused to relocate abroad and fight from there. Rather, he stayed back and laid down his life for democracy to strive in Nigeria. He died in the process.
In death, Abiola continued to be relevant in Nigeria politics. Obasanjo, a fellow Yoruba was brought out from Prison to contest the presidency of the nation in 1999. This was to appease Abiola. He won despite lack of support from fellow Yorubas.
As the 2019 elections approaches, President Buhari has also appeased MKO with National Merit Award and recognition as a past president of the country. If PMB wins the election of next year, the Abiola political model would be creating record as one that ‘produced’ three presidents for the nation.
And in this case, one of the best ways to immortalize the business mogul will be to make his political model a study in our schools. After all, the business model of Warren Buffet has since become a course of study in American Universities