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7 facts about MKO Abiola, 17 years after his demise

17 years after his death while in confinement, Abiola is still celebrated as Nigeria’s democratic hero Photo: Filed

Born Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola on August 27, 1937 in Abeokuta, Ogun State, Abiola has been described as one of the greatest statesmen Nigeria has been blessed with. Here are 7 facts about the widely influential sports lover, publisher, business mogul and philanthropist 17 years after his death.

1. Before his birth, MKO’s father had lost 22 children in their infant stage and so he was named Kashimawo meaning ‘let’s wait and see’ with hope that that the young child would survive infancy very slim.

2. He started his first business at the age of 9. The young Kashimawo would go to the farm early in the day to get firewood, then package and sell before going to school. This was his first entrepreneurial drive.

3. Despite being a stammerer, MKO was in his teenage days a musician who performed at shows to make money for his upkeep. He formed his band at the age of 15.

4. While at the Baptist Boys High School, Kashimawo was a respected writer moving on to emerge the editor of the school magazine. His deputy editor at the time is Nigeria’s former Head of State and President, Olusegun Obasanjo and the magazine was called The Trumpeter.

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5. At the age of 19, MKO was employed as a clerk at the Baclays Bank in Ibadan. Two years later he left the bank for another financial institution but soon proceeded to Glasgow University where he graduated with a First Class degree in Accounting.

6. In 1993, MKO won the presidential election which was later annulled by the outgoing Head of State, General Ibrahim Babangida. This led to the popular June 12 agitation and riots engulfed the whole nation. Abiola was later thrown in jail by General Sanni Abacha under frivolous claims of treason.

7. On Tuesday July 7, 1998, Abiola’s death was announced, leading to widespread protests across the country. Abiola died 30 days after the demise of the late dictator, Abacha who had passed on under controversial circumstances on the night of June 8, 1998.

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