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22 highlights from the life and times of MKO Abiola on his 80th birthday

Today (Thursday, August 24), late political giant, philanthropist, business mogul, the martyred Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola was born some 80 years ago. The occasion, expectedly, should have been greeted with huge jubilation and ceremony, had it been the celebrated
winner of Nigeria’s free and fair but annulled June 12 Presidential election was alive.
Chief M.K.O Abiola, born on August 24th, 1937, is a Nigerian the world won’t forget in a hurry as his name still rings a bell whenever it is mentioned even 19years after his death.
Encomium.ng brings you quick facts about Chief M.K.O Abiola…
1. Born August 24, 1937, Abiola was his father’s 23rd child and the first of his father’s children to survive infancy, hence the name ‘Kashimawo’ (Let us wait and see).

2. At the young age of nine, he started his first business selling firewood. He would wake up at dawn to go to the forest, gather
firewood and sell before going to school. He did this to support his old father and siblings.

3. He was the editor of his high school’s (Baptist Boys High School, Abeokuta) magazine (The Trumpeter) while Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was the deputy editor.

4. He joined the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC) at the age of 19, marking the beginning of his political life.

5. He started his professional life in 1956 as a bank clerk with Barclays Bank in Ibadan, South-West Nigeria.

6. He joined the Western Region Finance Corporation as an executive accounts officer in 1956 before moving to Glasgow in Scotland to pursue his higher education.

7. He had a 1st class in political economy, commercial law and management accountancy.

8.He also had a distinction from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland.

9. He worked as a senior accountant at the University of Lagos Teaching Hospital.

10. He also worked in Pfizer, then the ITT Corporation where he later rose to the position of Vice President, Africa and Middle East of the entire partnership which was head-quartered in the United States.

11. Some of his investments in Nigeria and West Africa include Abiola Farms, Abiola Bookshops, Radio Communications Nigeria, Wonder Bakeries, Concord Press, Concord Airlines, Summit Oil International Limited, Africa Ocean Lines, Habib Bank, Decca W.A Limited and Abiola Football Club.

12. He was once the chairman of G15 business council, President of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, Patron of Kwame Nkrumah Foundation.

13. He was only properly named Moshood at the age of 15 because of his father’s experience of infancy, hence the name Kashimawo (let’s watch
him first) he was initially given.

14. He was known for his charisma and for being a man of the people, a prominent social activist, as well as a democratic freedom fighter.
Following this reputation, the Congressional Black Caucus of the United States of America till date, salute him as a hero in the global pursuit to preserve the history and the legacy of the African diaspora.

15. His financial assistance gave birth to 63 secondary schools,121 mosques and churches, 41 libraries, 21 water projects in 24 states of Nigeria.

16. He was the grand patron of 149 associations in Nigeria.

17. He married four wives in his lifetime – Simibiat Atinuke Shoaga in 1960, Kudirat Olayinka Adeyemi in 1973, Adebisi Olawunmi Oshin in 1974 and Doyinsola Abiola Aboaba in 1981.

18. He fathered 40 children in his lifetime.

19. He was voted twice as the international businessman of the year and received numerous honorary doctorates from universities all over the world.

20. He ran for the presidency in 1993 in an election widely considered as free and fair. He was the winner but was never declared.

21. In 1994 he declared himself the lawful president of Nigeria in the Epetedo area of Lagos Island, an area mainly populated by Lagos Indigenes. He was then accused of treason by the government of Late General Sani Abacha and arrested accordingly.

22. He died in 1998, the day he was supposed to be released from prison.

– Azeezat Kareem for encomium.ng

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