Moshood Kashimawo Olawale, MKO Abiola was born on August 24, 1937 in Abeokuta, Ogun State. Before he was formally named at 15 years old, he was known as "Kashimawo" which means "let's wait and see" in Yoruba language. At the age of nine years, he started his first business selling firewood.
After his mum died, he was determined to become very successful. His Scottish university education helped his journey to entrepreneurial success. MKO Abiola gained immense international business exposure after his role as the Senior Vice-President for Africa and the Middle-East at ITT (International Telephone and Telegraph). In 1988, he was named the international businessman of the year.
MKO Abiola was very wealthy to the extent that he was richer than a country. He had fame, connection, influence, money and lots more. During his lifetime, he controlled virtually everything from business to communications, politics, international politics and even sports etc.
He returned to Nigeria in 1966 to practice all he had learned. Because he fought his way out of poverty, he sought to assist others to do the same. He was made the "Aare Ona Kakanfo" of Yorubaland in 1987, which is the highest honour available to a commoner in the Yoruba tribe.
He declared his candidacy for the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 1993, after he won the presidential primaries of the Social Democratic Party. After the elections on June 12, 1993, MKO Abiola won in 19 out of 30 states. His victory in Kano State as a southerner proved that he was a very popular candidate.
Unfortunately, the election was annuled by General Ibrahim Babangida, the military Head-of-State. Babangida then handed over to Chief Ernest Shonekan, who was unelected instead of MKO Abiola. Abiola was unhappy and sought for help internationally, which he got.
At Nelson Mandela's inauguration in South Africa, MKO Abiola sat on the seat reserved for Nigeria's Head of State. Abiola officially declared himself the President of Nigeria on his return from South Africa. On the 23rd of June 1994, the military Head-of-State, General Sani Abacha arrested MKO Abiola for treason, with 200 vehicles in his Moshood Abiola Cresent home in Ikeja, Lagos.
Some of his supporters were arrested and some assassinated, including the murder of his wife Kudirat Abiola in June 1996. Despite the pressure he received, he refused to renounce his mandate. Abiola was later released because of international pressure.
On June 7, 1998, MKO Abiola suddenly collapsed and died during a meeting with a United States delegation, headed by Ambassador Thomas Pickering. According to reports, he was said to have collapsed after drinking a cup of tea at the meeting. He died at the age of 60. Abiola's death was a breaking news around the world, and his death also succeeded in discrediting military rule in Nigeria.
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