Q: NIGERIANS mark June 12, 2019 in a different way apart from the normal remembrance party held at the family home every year. What’s your view on the Federal Government’s recognition of your father’s struggle?
AT the time the June 12 declaration was announced, most of us in the family congratulated President Muhammadu Buhari and the government for approving a decision that is really long overdue and recognizing the real terminal importance of the June 12 struggle that was started by my father but truly made a victorious legend by Nigerians across all walks of life, nations and across all social economic strata of life. I was very pleased despite the fact that we have carried on quietly ever since my father passed on. My brother Kola had solicited help from different kinds of people over the years and the government of the day was able to make this happen.
Q: But there was diverse opinion in respect of the recognition of June 12 even in the family that it did not the family expectations
I guess the beauty of our family and the way we were raised is in the way we are encouraged to think critically and transform opinions based on conviction. I suspect that even if you feel that government is not doing enough for the family, the fact that this day will now be a passing parcel on Nigeria history for generation to come must be a welcome development to anybody who believes my father and many other people paid the ultimate sacrifice to bring democracy to Nigeria. Now, whether it is sufficient enough is a different thing altogether, but it is necessary as a positive development.
Q: Would you have expected government to go beyond normal recognition of the family by the way of appointments or incentives?
Taking it back a little, even if my father had not passed on, today, there are many of his children that are over qualified and worthy of federal appointments. It is not because he died for democracy to thrive but because of his accomplishments in the family. Some of us are recognized outside this country. So a merit for appointments cannot be confused or related to daddy’s status and struggle for democracy. If our state or the federal government sees any of us worthy for position because we have value to add to the community, people or Nigerian economy, so be it not because we are Abiola’s children. But if that should be the only reason why we should be brought forward now, I think we deserve it too. Many of my siblings are doing so well and are accomplished, if they are provided opportunity to serve this country, they will do it excellently. Daddy wouldn’t even want that. He hired people in his companies who are the most talented and best in their families not knowing their fathers and mothers.
Q: How would you describe life without your father, Chief MKO Abiola?
Daddy was very passionate for sure. Quite honestly, I didn’t know it because I was telling somebody the other day that daddy was a passionate father and a leader. He was down to earth. He would always look out for me and want to catch up with me. He would call me up at 4 am and would ask how I was faring. He loved his children so much. He had this unconditional love for his children. One shouldn’t ask for whom we are, knowing that we are not all the same, having different characters but he loved us all. He was so grateful for what God gave him as children and he gave all of us opportunities to excel. That was really special. At age 15, daddy had already started asking me to represent him at events. I missed him much.
The truth is that daddy passed on unexpectedly. We always feel that daddy will come home and feel all of us in that seamless manner as he used to do. It took quite a few of us to adjust with time. It is because there was no alternative. You said something about having a voice, I could tell you that government did not give us a voice. It was daddy that gave us a voice. From the legacies he left. He was tirelessly helping people and this is outside politics. Sometimes people will meet me and tell me how daddy impacted their lives. That was the voice we have as his children. He was busy nurturing businesses and creating opportunities for people to grow. And that is what nobody can take away from him.
On the need to uphold Abiola’s ideals
All you need to look at today is the nature of our economy. You will see that there is much work to be done. One of my father’s books, “Farewell to poverty”, he wrote the book because he saw so much poverty in the land, and that there is work to be done. There is much to be done and maybe some people may say that it was easier in his time than now or maybe there is more work for leaders to do. But the truth is that the next generation is relying on this generation to readdress the fundamentals. In my days, I went to good schools in Nigeria but the only reason I went abroad for higher education is for exposure, not the quality of education. Back then in Surulere, we never used generator until later when we relocated to Ikeja. The truth is things have deteriorated. Basic infrastructure has deteriorated. Healthcare is in a sorry state. Nigerians are not shy of hard work. They have intellectual capacity, motivations and energy but the will to actualize these are not here yet.
Her words to Nigerians, and pro-democracy groups that kept the June 12 struggle alive
We really believe that we need to go back to education because if we don’t learn from our history, we may tend to repeat the same mistakes. The story of June 12 needs to be studied in every primary and secondary school in this country. We need to be moving forward step by step and that means that the younger generation must aspire to learn more from where others stopped. The Ministry of Education needs to go back and look at what Nigerians need as education to grow. We must be a country where promises are fulfilled.
Finally, I am proud to be a Nigeria and I am also grateful to the government of Nigeria for finally doing the right thing. I believe that if we begin to move the narrative of June 12 to the next generation, Nigeria will move to the next level. Personally, I will celebrate the occasion with special prayer to my father for Nigeria’s prosperity.