© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
Kola Abiola to Buhari: You have succeeded in shaving my father’s hair in his absence
KOLA Abiola, son of the late Moshood Abiola, says President Muhammadu Buhari, by the posthumous national honour conferred on his father, has succeeded in “shaving his head in his absence”.
This was contained in the younger Abiola’s acceptance speech after he received the posthumous national award of Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR) conferred on his father, in recognition of his victory in the June 12, 1993 presidential election, which was annulled by then military Head of State, Ibrahim Babangida.
After receiving the award on behalf of his late father, Kola opted not to read his already prepared speech, but rather called on her younger sister, Hafsat Abiola-Costello, to speak on behalf of the family. He, however, promised to make a copy of his speech available to the guests at the event.
“My late father used to say: ‘you can’t shave a man’s head in his absence’. Mr. President, I dare say, with this courageous posthumous honour award being bestowed today, you have just succeeded in shaving MKO’s head behind him,” read the speech which has appeared in the media.
“MKO was a man of many parts. He knew and touched every part of this great land of ours. From the North to the South, from the East to the West, he was at home everywhere across Nigeria. He was a great believer in Nigeria, a detribalised Nigeria and a Pan Africanist.”
The younger Abiola also re-echoed that the June 12, 1993, presidential election “was undisputedly the freest, fairest and most peaceful election since our Independence”.
“The pain and anguish that followed in the wake of the cruel annulment of this watershed event in the life of our nation is well known to those of us who witnessed it and had to endure its ugly consequences.
“The return of democratic rule on May 29, 1999 offered us a chance to face the reality of our recent history. Rather than reconciling ourselves to the truth and righting the wrong, the new democratic government failed the first test by designating the day it came to power as Democracy Day.
“This singular act indicated a warped reading of history at the Federal level which all South Western states tried to address by commemorating June 12 nonetheless.
“Mr. President, today you have not only given June 12 its rightful place in the history of our nation, this brave act of yours is telling the people of Nigeria that voted on June 12 and the millions of Nigerians that have had to bear the brunt of the consequences of the annulment that all hope is not lost.
“It has taken over two decades, but finally the votes have not gone to waste.”
Kola Abiola, while paying tribute to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, for the role he played in ensuring that June 12 was given its pride of place in Nigeria’s history, also praised many people who gave their lives for the struggle.
“We remember Pa Alfred Rewane, Chief (Mrs.) Bisoye Tejuosho, Dr Shola Omatsola and Bagauda Kaltho. For our family, we didn’t just lose our patriarch, we also lost our own Alhaja Kudirat Abiola. May God in His infinite mercy bless their souls,” he said.
On why, unlike his father, he has stayed away from politics, Kola said it was a personal decision he took after the annulment of the June 12, 1993 election.
“At the tender age of 29, I was privileged to lead the Hope ‘93 campaign organization. (But unfortunately, the results were annulled, leaving me in limbo.
“(So) I made a vow to myself that until this whole matter is resolved, I will not get involved politically in any form or shape. I took on a quiet mission of bringing closure to this sordid chapter in our lives.
“Mr. President, for me, today is mission accomplished. As my father would say, no one can clap with only one hand.
“Once again, Mr. President, on behalf of our family, I thank you for this great honour you have done my father. I thank you for taking this decisive measure to strengthen the foundation of our democracy and guarantee our future by reconciling our past.
“Generations to come will honour you for this brave act.”