Nigerians mark the 25th anniversary of dissolution of June 12 Presidential election of Late Moshood Kashimawo Olawale (M. K. O.) Abiola.
He was named Kashimawo “Let us wait and see” by his parents because he was the 23rd child but the first to survive infancy. It was when he was about 15 years that his father properly named him Moshood.
Abiola worked as a senior accountant at the University of Lagos Teaching Hospital, after which he moved on to US firm Pfizer. He joined the ITT Corporation then rose to the position of Vice-President, Africa and Middle-East.
M.K.O. spent a lot of his time and made most of his money in the United States, while retaining the post of chairman of the corporation’s Nigerian subsidiary. In addition to his duties throughout the Middle-East and Africa, he invested heavily in Nigeria and West Africa.
He set up Abiola Farms, Abiola Bookshops, Radio Communications Nigeria, Wonder Bakeries, Concord Press, Concord Airlines, Summit Oil International Ltd, Africa Ocean Lines, Habib Bank, Decca W.A. Ltd, and Abiola football club. He was also Chairman of the G15 business council, President of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, Patron of the Kwame Nkrumah Foundation, Patron of the WEB Du Bois foundation, trustee of the Martin Luther King Foundation, and director of the International Press Institute.
As an active participant in politics, Abiola was eligible to go for the post of presidential candidate after the tenure of the re-elected president. However, his hope to become the president was dashed away when a military coup d’état ended civilian rule in the country.
After a decade of military rule, General Ibrahim Babangida came under pressure to return democratic rule to Nigeria. Abiola stood for the presidential nomination of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and beat Ambassador Baba Gana Kingibe and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar to secure the presidential nomination of the SDP ahead of the 12 June 1993 presidential elections. He had worked his way out of poverty and helped grow the economy.
The election was declared as the free and fairest election till date. It was however cancelled by Ibrahim Babangida and led to crisis and overthrow in power by Gen. Sani Abacha.
MKO on the other hand gave a speech and declared himself as ‘President and Commander-In-Chief’ on the 12th of June, 1993 at Epetedo, Lagos Island. The speech is fondly referred to as ‘Epetedo Proclamation’.
After the speech, Gen. Sani Abacha, the military head of state, declared him wanted for treason and ordered his arrest. He was incarcerated for four years and died on July 7, 1998 — the day he was to be freed.
In past times, June 12 has always been honored in remembrance to Late Moshood Abiola. Starting June 12, 2019, the date has been officially declared Democracy day and shall be replacing the usual May 29. This decision was made public by President Muhammadu Buhari.