18 years After: Kudirat Abiola On My Mind By Joe Igbokwe
In the early morning of June 14 1996, Alhaja Kudirat Abiola, the late wife of the celebrated Hero of Democracy in Nigeria, the late Chie MKO Abiola, had an appointment to keep in the Lagos Island. She left her home in Opebi, Ikeja in her husband’s Benz 300 S-Class clearly unaware that some killers – Major Mumuni, Major Dan Asabe, Sergeant Rogers and one Major Daramola – were following her with an order from Abuja to kill her. The time was 9.40am that morning as they approached the Seven-up end of Oregun Industrial Estate to join the famous Lagos Ibadan Expressway and on this ungodly spot they shot and snuffed out life of an African Heroine. And Alhaja Kudirat Abiola died.
On November 17 1995 at the Launching of my Book: IGBOS: 25 YEARS AFTER BIAFRA at the National Institute of International Affairs, Victoria Island, this great and courageous woman was there and sat quietly and gracefully too at the high table. In her own speech, I remember vividly she said that if need be she was ready to spill the last pint of her blood to fight for June 12. In her own words, she said, “June 12 is worth defending with our lives, otherwise our children will continue to be slaves in their own fatherland.”
She understood that those who want peace should also be prepared for war. Kudirat had dismissed fear in her life and said: “Nobody can cow me down. If they want to jail me, let them do so. I don’t care. I am fighting for what is right and just. God Himself does not support injustice.”
Her precious and prodigious daughter, Hafsat now Mrs Hafsat Castello added a clincher: “If the only way we could have saved her life was to have her silent in the face of tyranny and oppression, then there is no point.”
It is now 18 years after and the soulless beneficiaries of the tragedy that struck Nigeria, Chief Abiola’s family and Nigerians are yet to come to terms with the huge sacrifice the family and other Nigerian made to achieve the democracy they are rubbishing today.
Today June 4 2014, and 18 years after, the Lagos State Chapter of the PDP has described the late Kudirat Abiola as “a heroine of democracy whose contributions to Nigeria’s democratic freedom cannot be forgotten so soon”. Few days ago, former President Obasanjo stated for the first time in the past 15 years that Chief MKO Abiola made great sacrifices to restore democracy in Nigeria in 1999.
For eight years Obasanjo was in power, he never recognized Chief Abiola’s huge sacrifices that led to his emergence as a president. Before the annulment of June 12, 1993, Presidential election results Obasanjo had told the world that Chief Abiola was not the messiah Nigeria needed. 18 years after, the hypocrites, betrayers and traitors are talking. This is the way of meretricious mediocre, the way of political merchants and the way of political prostitutes.
No one can cover the sun with just bare hands. Truth is as constant as northern stars. A friend of mine Bayo Oluwasanmi tells me, “We cannot drive a car forward by looking at the rear view mirror. We cannot use shoes for hammers, newspapers for umbrellas and fingernails to tight screw.” You cannot raise the level of the Lagos Lagoon by directing all the planetary rains to fall on it and even when you succeed in doing that water will always find its own level. The chicken is coming home to roost after 18 years of fraud and deceit. The fraudulent, selfish and totally irredeemable political prostitutes in PDP that are reaping where they did not sow are gradually coming to terms with the obvious and painful truth that May 29 1999 would not have been if there had not been June 12 1993. The political nonentities in PDP are gradually learning the lessons of history that a trillion lies cannot cover one single truth. The ruiners and destroyers of everything we hold dear in Nigeria are gradually learning the bitter lessons that everyday is for the thief and one day for the owner.
My take in all this is that Chief MKO Abiola, his wife Kudirat Abiola and other heroes of democracy stand tall today and are better in heroic death than all the millions of their enemies in PDP who are alive today but dead inside. Professor Wole Soyinka while renaming a foreign based Radio Station owned and operated by NADECO then after Kudirat Abiola said “The mere mention of Radio Kudirat Nigeria reels out the slain heroine’s voice from the bottomless space to haunt her murderers in the deepest recesses of their citadels.”
Even the US law makers were not left behind in the bid to immortalize this great woman rejected at home by evil men and women. The 44th Street and Second Avenue where the Nigerian Mission in New York is located is named after her. Today it is known as Kudirat Abiola Corner.
Abacha’s junta did everything humanly possible to stop the great honour. He spent millions of dollars to stop the project but he failed woefully. An 83-page anti-Kudirat book was also produced but all to no avail. Nigerian’s Permanent Representative at the United Nations, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, and the senior staff of the Nigerian Embassy were mobilized too to discredit Kudirat. Charles Awani, the Acting Consul-General of Nigerian Consulate in New York wrote that “Mrs Kudirat Abiola was killed in a family dispute. She is popular only on the pages of newspapers, which many Nigerians do not read” One Mrs Clara Rafu acting for government knelt down before New York Community Board and pledged to kill herself if any street was named after Kudirat. Another was said to have asked the New York Community that “If Alhaja Kudirat must be honoured, New York City Council must also name street after all the other wives of chief MKO Abiola”
All these efforts were reduced to nothing as the 44th and Second Avenue was eventually named after her. With these, the Amazon of Democracy walks tall and defeated her enemies even in death. She will definitely defeat all the enemies of democracy in Nigeria and those who through actions and deeds contributed to her death and that of her husband.
Very soon Nigerian leaders, especially at the national level, will discover that it will be difficult to make substantial progress without Nigeria addressing the injustices of the past. Until we have the political will to honour those who watered our present democracy with their blood, it maybe difficult for this country to move forward. Thank God that the likes of former president Obasanjo and PDP are putting on their thinking caps now. It is not too late. If you wake up by 6pm it is your morning. Good morning, PDP. Good morning, Chief Obasanjo.