Money, Kudi, Owo

by Dele A. Sonubi

Before the end of the first term of this political dispensation, politicians and almost all the people who were brought to limelight in the aftermath of events climaxing at the death of the legendary MKO Abiola had totally forgotten the sacrifices made by those who struggled to bring the present dispensation into reality. I remember at the 2002 commemoration of the demise of Abiola in Lagos, Governor Bola Ahmeed Tinubu of Lagos State turned the event into his own political campaign and stole the event from the sober reflection on the rare sacrifice made by Abiola. He turned it into a declaration of his readiness to run for a second term as the governor of the state. The reminiscence over Abiola’s death has been completely overshadowed and since ignored.

The late Abraham Lincoln, after several attempts to win election as the American President and to execute a civil war to free the American slaves, declared concerning the heroes who died during the struggles that “….the brave men, living and dead, who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here…” It is for this reason, that I put my pen on paper to remember the personal sacrifice, the tough rope of struggle and the agony of undeclared mandate culminating in the death of a man larger than life itself. I am not hero-hunting but definitely hero-remembering in Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola.

Chief, it is already seven years since death took you away from us to somewhere far away where we cannot reach or hear your voice; to where we cannot share from your reservoir of proverbs and aphorisms, your sound intellect, your obsession for sports at both able and disabled levels, your capacity to obtain and merge several chieftaincy titles.

Omo olówó j’oyè méjì pò;

A wealthy man who bags multiple chieftaincy titles in one day,

Ka tó f’ènìyàn j’oyè láàrín ìlú, ón láti j’éni rere

Before an individual is honored with a chieftaincy title in a community, such individual must be morally upright.

You came, you saw and you conquered! Even if it looks like Nigeria has forgotten your unique existence, some of us, I assure you, still remember you. We might not be in government now but many generations of Nigerians will hold your ideals firmly inside their hearts. The government, an institution you fought so hard to install with a new dispensation, a system where you invested so much resources to bring honor and integrity to, a democracy for which you laid down your life and paid the ultimate price, is now a mirage of what we expected after the phenomenon of “June 12”; the struggle of its actualization, the bitter loss of precious lives and property, the dark years of political impasse during the period of your incarcerations, the sacrifice of The Dream, the loss of the ideal and the trauma of your sacrifice. Indeed yours was an obstinate struggle; the conviction that “…that nation might live”. History will record that your dedication was not that the nation might only live as a shadow of its own size and affluence, but live in the true image of its beliefs. Nigeria is still a nascent democracy compared with others within its category of size and affluence, but when the accounts of our antecedent are recorded, your contributions will be engraved on a fulcrum of our socio-political transformation. Though our present politicians are unconcerned about the legacy of your sacrifice, but yours and not their contributions will receive bold inscriptions; your footprints rather than theirs will remain an entrenched landmark in the future accounts to the children of our children and the children of their children’s children. Since the early hours of June 12 1993, history has recorded your name Bashòrun Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola along such great names like the Sir Amadu Bello, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe, Dr. Alvan Ikoku, Chief Anthony Enahoro and a host of others on our list of who is who in Nigerian political experiences. You are no longer an ordinary Nigerian; you belong to the class of legends. You had managed to merge the historical accounts of all our contributors for one true federal state into one expression meaning June 12. Henceforth, when we need short words to express the contributions of our nationalists, “June 12” will be the grand summary of our national socio-political aspirations. Unfortunately, some of us who still remember you vividly are faceless within the Nigerian scheme of things, mostly nameless in the list of “who is who” and not inside any ivory tower but low and basic. Nevertheless, be certain there are many if not the entire mass of the eradicated low and middle classes. The Nigerian Guardian is still dogged, Punch Newspaper remains resolute in its conviction of your candidature, This Day, Channels TV, and other private news media are of persistent impatience. Chief Gani Fawehimi is still shouting at the top of his voice (but understandably, his voice is sounding the note of age). Chief Femi Fal

ana, Chief Frank Kokori, Dr. Beko Ransom Kuti, Professor Wole Soyinka, Dr. Frederick Faseun, Chief Ganiu Adams and a host of others, twelve years after the annulment, are still asking for the declaration of that mandate of June 12 elections which we know that you won.

What continues to haunt us is that we heard if you had been the president, you would have run a democratic socialist government which late Papa Awolowo propounded for Nigeria throughout his political career. Even if you had adopted the inevitable liberal economic trends- since you were an indefatigable believer of free enterprise, still your liberal policies would have had a human face. You would never have traveled out of the country when there were labor union crises nor chosen not to know the price of kerosene owing to the strategic importance of such commodity to the majority of Nigerian voters. We heard that had you been sworn in, you would have sought to slash the prices of commodities in the market through increased production of food and agricultural produce, offered micro credits loans to the SMEs (Small and Medium scale Enterprises) and MAN (Manufacturers Association of Nigeria) operators thus superseding the failed 10% derivation and equity finance of the present government which was never expected to help anyone but the bankers and their allies. You did not merely intend to construct church inside the Aso Presidential Villa and televise its services as a mark of faith or belief, but church and its faith would have been in your heart because you did not only believe in the plurality of people, multiplicity of culture and diversity of race, but you were an ardent believer in plurality of religion including indigenous African religion. We know that had death not snatched you away from us, we would have had a true Nigerian President; a president known in the far north with many chieftaincy titles which opened royal doors to him even as a foreigner, popular in the middle belt and in the mid-west as royal council member, known in Ibadan as another one of the legendary, “Bashòrun Àre ònàkankanfò” and so on. Can there be another truly Nigerian president like Bashòrun MKO Abiola or are we merely creating a fathomed hero? Your involvement in politics proved that “rotational presidency” is a dance in the woods; otherwise, what rotational presidency will produce another Nigerian president that is truly Nigerian in the same magnitude as MKO after his tenure must have been served?

Undeniably, there was an MKO Abiola once, who lived a life which was larger than life itself. Money, Kudi, Owo, a warm-hearted philanthropist who loved life and whatever that life had to offer. Be it people, MKO loved peoples so much that he got so many around himself as though human crowd was the best clothing for shielding his nakedness. Be it wealth, he had so much of it that people turned his names to “Money, Kudi, Owo” to describe the man’s affluence; a wealth he shared without discrimination. Be it beauty, he sought such in the edifice of his own empire, his variety of women, and the superfluity of his Yoruba language competence. He spoke Yoruba with such aromatic fancy that even Odùduwà bowed in awe on his investiture as the Àre ònàkankanfò. The Ìjèbú people give a man of his social standing the accolade as;

Omo ajó n jó l’ójà, ójó lójà tán ó gb’odindin omo;

One who danced in the market-place so flamboyantly that he got a damsel as present;

Omo ajó gbe’rú májòó gbèko;

The vivacious and skilful dancer who wins slaves instead of food as prizes for his mastery;

Erú ní si’ni, èko kìí sín ènìà;

Because slaves serve their masters but food doesn’t;

Omo subú lójà aàdúgbé;

One who slips in a large market place and everyone scrambled over one another to catch him before he falls;

Òtòsì subú lójà kínì jigini;

A mere man falls in a market place for nothing (without being noticed);

Omo òkàn bírí, tó sàn ju méwàá kúó kúó….

A vibrant single child who is worth much more than ten other sluggish children…”

Truly, you were a character of wonders.

America, in the aftermath of the “September 11” saga swore to attack the perpetrators, those who harbored them and also those who profited from the act. Similarly, Mountain of Fire Church daily admonishes its followers not to pray but to curse those who wish them bad luck. In the same spirit, I pray for a downpour of everlasting curses upon those who knew about, who planned and executed the “murder” of MKO Abiola. Their children, the children of their children’s children will know no peace. Sudden death will ever remain ceaseless in the families of the enemies of Nigeria who took MKO away from the poor and the masses of this country before his prime age. The end, they say, justifies the means, does Abiola’s painful end justifies any means?

Chief MKO, you had done your best; you had given all that it took for a person to remain a hero of a race. You had fought a good fight and subsequently, as Lincoln said; “It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us–that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion–that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.”

As you rest MKO, rest in peace.

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Raji Wasiu November 1, 2007 - 2:28 pm

I wonder what anyone that is reasonable and think of what the people would say after his demise.Leaders of now and tommorrow,should learn from the death of this great son of Africa,even if he is camouflaging,and people thinks he is worth all these emulations he is getting after his death,i Say now he is with Almighty Allah(God),there is a saying in Yoruba language that says 'Ohun Eda lohun Olorunoba'.It means the voice of man is the voice of God,so to our living leaders,i say Learn from the death.

Anonymous October 22, 2005 - 11:06 am

i believe MKO Abiola is a geniusand he should be remembered as an hero.A sport lover who has done a lot for African sport by donating a trophy for best African player and more and more to mention few.He was among the brilliant students that have come out Africa in Glasgow universityScotland and could be well compared with the likes of Bill Clinton of America

Anonymous October 5, 2005 - 6:05 pm

I rated this article excellent because it was about MKO. Nigeria would not have been under a "civil rule" today if not for the sacrifice of one man – MKO. (Yemmy Adeyiga University of Central Oklahoma). .

ade adeniran October 3, 2005 - 2:28 pm

The best president nigeria never had. Iwiil appreciate if i can be getting your article regularly via my


Anonymous October 3, 2005 - 2:21 pm

The writer displey high level of oratorial skills in driving home

his point with adequate use of english.

Reply October 3, 2005 - 1:43 pm

No I did not think that MKO Abiola would have done fantastically well mine was a projection based on his character. I thought a person of his calibre and faith in the poeple and potentials of the individuals can and might just as well be a better resolution to what we currently have in Obasanjo and his cohots. Mine are wishful thinking and I think i am right


guest October 3, 2005 - 1:29 pm

Good article

Anonymous October 3, 2005 - 1:26 pm

Chief MKO Abiola took a bold step to want to liberate Nigeria and he paid for it with his life.The so-called advisers chilled out and some never visited him when he was in jail.

Anonymous October 3, 2005 - 10:52 am

I rated this excellent because this is a person that loves Nigerian and Nigerians like MKO Abiola and nobody even those that had directly benefited from his death had deem it necessary to EULOGISE this great SON of AFRICA-Raji Wasiu Oladele(United Kingdom)

Anonymous October 2, 2005 - 11:11 pm

So you think MKO would have changed Nigeria It is always the dead son that out grows his age mates.


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