Kola Abiola, the eldest son of the late business mogul and the winner of June 12, 1993 presidential election has finally revealed the strategies he advised his late father to follow before making the famous Epetedo Declaration on June 11, 1994.
Chief MKO Abiola was denied the mandate millions of Nigerians gave him in the 1993 poll. His friend and the military President at the time Gen. Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida annulled the election when it was clear that the candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) was going to beat his rival Bashir Tofa of the National Republican Convention (NRC).
Speaking in an interview published by The Sun, Kola Abiola said he advised his late father not to pronounce himself the president.
“I told him it was not a good idea but that if he insisted, I said he should make sure that every single person who suggested it to him would all be physically present when the declaration was made.”
Kola, who was technically managing the campaign of his late father said he advised him to announce his cabinet and let all of those cabinet members be there with him while he made his declaration.
“I told him that if they were not willing to do this, it tells us that something is wrong. He said okay, so I went home.
“The next thing I heard was that he was on his way there; then I knew that there was a problem,” The Sun quoted him as saying in the elaborate interview.
MKO Abiola on June 11, 1994, at Epetedo in Lagos had addressed thousands of his supporters where he declared himself the president-elect at the time late Gen. Sani Abacha was the military dictator.
Abiola was arrested a few hours after making the pronouncement and locked up till he died in detention on July 7, 1998, a month after his captor Abacha died in mysterious circumstances.
Kola said he knew that his father would be arrested, stating that there had been several attempts to arrest his father before making the Epetedo declaration.
He said, “There was a particular day that we got supposedly credible information that they were going to raid the house and arrest him and the idea was for him to go to the American embassy to take refuge.
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“When I was told about the plan to arrest him, I said, well, he is in his house; let us see what will happen, but my family members felt I wasn’t taking the issue very seriously.
Kola said the same people who said Abiola should leave the house to hide somewhere suggested the American embassy.
He said he knew it was a setup, but “couldn’t convince anybody that it was a setup. So, we got ready for him to go to the embassy and when I saw lots of people around him, I then asked that if we are going to the embassy, why the convoy? I told them to leave him to me that I would personally drive him there.”
He said he made sure that no one knew that his late father would be staying in his (Kola) residence.
“The following morning, all the papers carried reports that he was at the American embassy and my father told me that I was right that the entire American embassy thing was a set-up.”
The late politician has been honoured by the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari several years after his death.