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Osinbajo’s father-in-law ‘annoyed’ that Abiola was misled into declaring himself president

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Olutayo Soyede, close associate and son in-law of late Obafemi Awolowo, who is also the father in-law of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, says it was a mistake for M.K.O Abiola to have declared himself President in 1994.

Soyede, who spoke in an interview with Punch, said Abiola ought to have accepted the bail conditions given to him by Sani Abacha, Nigeria’s Head of State at the time, and perhaps he would have found other means of actualising his mandate, but he was misled by persons who were not even part of his presidential campaign.

Abiola was the winner of the 1993 general election, later annulled by Ibrahim Babangida, who stepped aside as Head of State months after.

“Where trouble came in was when Abiola went to declare himself President. Those who told him to declare were not even part of us,” Soyede said.

“We were the ones who worked for Abiola to win the primary. We even voted against our former chairman, Baba Gana Kingibe.

“Mama HID Awolowo told us to work for Abiola, who was never one of us. He was in another party before but many of the people who took the credit were never there.

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“We were surprised that the Abiola we supported started drifting towards other people.

“Initially, Abiola was not locked up in a cell but was given comfortable places to live outside the prison. Abacha left Abiola to enjoy himself, but something happened that changed all these.

“The so-called people who misled Abiola told him to continue to claim his mandate and reject the bail conditions.”

Soyede said they were already making arrangements on how to transport Abiola to Lagos as soon as he was released when they learnt that he had rejected the bail, insisting that he must be declared President.

“We were weeping when we got back. That was the first time Abiola was put in a proper prison,” he said.

“If you noticed, within three weeks, Abiola’s health had started deteriorating. That was the end of Abiola. We lost contact with him.”

When reminded that if Abiola accepted the bail he was offered by Abacha, it would mean forfeiting his mandate, Soyede replied, “Well, did he have the mandate now?”

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“In such a thing, you accept anything. It is when you are free that you could claim a mandate.

“He was misled and it always annoys me. However, Abiola remains a hero.

“If he accepted the bail condition, he could have found his way out of Nigeria and maybe declare government in exile; that was our own thinking.”

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