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Tuesday, 1 October 2019


... Abdul Mumuni Abiola Says: "My father’s will is still hanging!"

By Paul Ukpabio

At age 7, Abdul Mumuni Abiola’s mom Kudirat Abiola, a businesswoman and wife of the acclaimed winner of 1993 Presidential election in Nigeria, was assassinated some few kilometers from their family home in Ikeja, Lagos, while his father, the acclaimed winner of the election had already been incarcerated in political detention. The African nation was in shock, the family in confusion, and the children of the murdered woman in trauma.

Abdul as a baby in mom's loving hands
Abdul Abiola and younger sibling, were few days later, smuggled outside the country, through the famous NADECO bush-track on Nigerian border with Cotonou, to France and then to the United State of America, where they re-united with their other siblings. It was a sordid experience for a child whose famous memories was going into his mother’s wardrobe, taking as much money as he needed for the day, exchanging the foreign currencies for local currencies at the local forex shop, and using the money to buy his classmates lunch and also assisting people on the way.
Abdul Abiola who is presently in his early thirties, married with two children looks back to those years with courage, gratitude and even with a stronger determination to uphold his father’s legacies.
“Some people say and think that I am my father’s last son. No, I am not. I am second to the last for Alhaja Kudirat Abiola. I have younger siblings. I know of Mama Ayo, my step mom and her daughter Dami. She 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, work towards a common greater purpose, which is to make everyone okay!
Abdul as he is fondly called says he have lived with two ‘strong’ pains in that are both key in his life. “And funny enough, they are the two things that my father held ear in his life. The first is the happiness of my family and the second the 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 straight forward. It said all assets to 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 execution of 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 with the administration of the will.

“Yes, some time ago, I did come out and said that if anything should happen to me that my father’s first son should be held responsible. At the time I said that, I felt I was being hounded unduly. I believe that my fathers’ 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 that he died said that all his properties should be shared equally among his children. Now we are over twenty 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 twenty year’s 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 will 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 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 a 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 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 will are executed to the last letter, why is that of the Abiola family different?
“My father also 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 good things to come.”

Abdul is excited with President Mohammadu Buhari. “Our whole family is excited with the president. I was elated when I heard the President finally honour a post humous investiture. I had just closed from work that day and decided to stop see a friend. We were having drinks when an Egbon of mine called from Osun to say, ‘Olorun ti se,’ that Chief MKO Abiola has finally been honoured.  It was indeed a huge surprise because none of us were contacted beforehand about it. I am grateful to Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu who has also been there for us.
“But there’s one thing also, that I want Mr President to do, and that is to also remember that Chief MKO Abiola won but 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 there in, that made people to vote for Abiola, of 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 dropping 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 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. And also lost international image during the Abacha years and things degenerated with so many people fleeing outside 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 Abdul Mumuni when the June 12 epoch making event took place? He replied: “I was young at the time when it all started in 1993. Some could say I was a mere child. But I was absorbing a lot of information. I saw my mom fighting for what she believed in and I saw Nigerians from all works of life and from different part of the country in our houses meeting and strategizing 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, he was a youth leader and many more and many more people who put all in the fight and that cushioned the effect of missing my mom, because I saw how people rose up 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 transpiring in the country.

"And I noticed that there was a transformation from a Nigeria where you are just given what is taken to you, to 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 mom was at the head of that uprising because at that time my father was already incarcerated which was really something. I lost my mom. I think I was sad but I understood what she fought for. A week later after that 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 we came together. I lost my dad two years later and within that period, everyone just found a way of taking care of each other. It was very abrupt, no one prepared for it, because they were all friends. You know for one to go after the wife of another, really show the 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 that shackles. I knew then that it was not just an Abiola fight it was the nation’s fight. There’s no other better honour than to sacrifice your life for your country. That’s why I think that soldiers, policemen, 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 but rather for the future of the country.
Abdul Mumuini Abiola shared some of his past and present lifestyle with us when he told us that, “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. I was born in 1984. Our house was always packed. You would think you were meeting with the president when you come 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 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 on going, we have the matriarch of the family Chief Mrs Bisi Abiola who has been ensuring 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 that have come seeking advice or support. We thank God for her. If it was left to my brother Kola Abiola, his own desire was for the family to be at odds with one another. My brother Alhaji Kola Abiola does not come to the house, how does he even know what is going on in the house. How does he know how the house is kept. Mama is still there. She had a choice to leave. The house is massive. It’s gargantuan property. 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 refurbished 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 is to first of all come together. So the best that we are working on now is to do a re-union 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 of proud of. We thank her for all the support and pray that God continues to give her the strength to continue.

And how about his relationship with the ex governor of the State of Osun, "my relationship with Ogbeni Rauf Aragbesola the ex governor has been that of a father and a son, he has mentored me, and a leader and a follower. He is a people’s person, someone I admired. 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 cab 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 his present 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 wealthy father and how wealthy is he at present. Abdul Mumuni Abiola laughs, then puts on a serious look and began, “yes, I was born with a silver spoon. I haven’t really enjoyed my father’s personal wealth because we have a management issue. What I can say that 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 craft 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 where he can 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 on her colleague in the office and that one asked who her husband is. When she told him, her colleague replied “ha, that stubborn boy!” So her colleague recalled that she was in the house one day with her mom to seek for assistance for something, when I went into my mommy’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 and 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 that day and saw that happened. And probably 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. Those days, I used to the money to buy food and drinks for all my classmates and get to a Mallam, change the foreign currency and still use 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 thing 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 not a total independence 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. Wealth is relative.

And for those who don’t know it, Abdul Mumuni Abiola is now Ghana based. He told us why he had to move down there.
“I’m in Ghana to gain more knowledge. My parents believed in education. I’m here at University of Ghana for a Bsc 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 and 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 want to just 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. And then again, I was looking for a place where I am not 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 also from the Niger Delta her mother is from Bayelsa. She has the qualities of a wife which is honesty and trust, so we have been salvaging it together.”
When it comes to being similar in looks to his father in terms of fashion sense, Abdul is humble in his reply. “I try to walk in his footsteps. I think he was a great man. It’s not that we have the same dress sense, I am just copying his dress sense.”

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