For those who were too young between 1993 and 1998, it was the period the 1993 Presidential Election debacle was at its peak, resulting ultimately in the passage of Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, the chief protagonist in the struggle. He had died in prison, allegedly through poison, where he was being held for declaring himself President after the military Junta of General Ibrahim Babangida annulled the popular election he won in the June 12, 1993 Presidential Election. Chief Abiola (popularly known as MKO Abiola) emerged winner of the keenly contested election, defeating his only rival, Alhaji Bashir Tofa, a Kano-born politician, who was the candidate of the National Republican Convention (NRC). Abiola, a Yoruba man from Abeokuta, Ogun state, on the other hand, flew the banner of the Social Democratic Party (SDP).
In the west, east and north, Abiola received overwhelming votes even spanking Tofa in his backyard. But midway into the announcement of the results, the Head of State, General Ibrahim Babangida, ordered the cancelation of proceedings resulting in utter annulment of the results without any valid reason, which had been revealed was won by Abiola. The election was adjudged the freest and fairest in the annals of the country conducted under a novel system – Option-A4, in which voters queued behind their preferred candidate.
The annulment ushered Nigeria into one of its darkest moments as Nigerians resisted the decision resolutely; the country dangled precariously on the brink with the Yorubas in the vanguard of the opposition. The conflict saw Abiola, a billionaire, who was born into poverty and grew up in penury before conquering the malaise, transforming bravely into a crusader against oppression and tyranny. He fought the military junta to a standstill; Babangida was harried out of office; his successor, Ernest Shonekan was removed and the head of junta that next seized power, Sani Abacha, also perished in the struggle. The perilous time brought the best out of Abiola, who was Aare Ona Kakanfo (Generalissimo) of Yorubaland. He was a repertoire of wise and witty sayings; many illustrative proverbs ingeniously seeped out of his fecund mind. He deodorized the struggle with hundreds of the sayings.
Below are 23 of his wise sayings during the battle to revalidate the June 12 mandate, which the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has finally revalidated.
But you do not take the extreme measure of killing a new born child just because the midwife is a bad woman.
The fact that you set up the fire does not mean if you put your hand into the fire, it won’t burn you.
What do you expect of a child who has failed an examination? He must want a re-sit, but those who passed the examination do not need to go for a re-sit.
There can be no two sunrises in one day.
If you want to say you want to cut a tree, at times you cut human beings.
Only God’s decision is irrevocable.
No matter how courageous you are, you don’t go in front of a moving car or bus.
Whether you are born on the high seas or in the aircraft, as long as you are a bouncing baby, the father and mother will be congratulated.
If you start looking for a sheep to help you catch a game in the forest, you will look in vain.
If you want to shave my head, surely you need my presence.
The only person who can scratch himself is the person who is itching.
Power is like a tiger, if you ride on a tiger; you must be very careful when you get down otherwise, you will find yourself inside the tiger’s belly.
A bastard cannot become a legitimate child in a thousand years.
If you find yourself on top of a palm tree, you have to get down through the way you go up or else you will break your leg.
A bird does not tell another bird a stone is coming.
If you find yourself in water, you must stop complaining of being wet.
A tree that does not support your weight when you lean on it will not kill you if it falls on you.
A nation that does not do justice cannot know peace.
A country is not made for government; a government is made for the people.
The impact of our activities, coupled with how we stood in the midst of turbulence would be felt in the next twenty years and would remain indelible in the political landscape of Nigeria.
To speak of peace without justice will be meaningless and temporary.
It is gratuitous insult to suppose that any government no matter how impressed it is by its own knowledge and wisdom should, against the people’s will, continue to make laws and regulations whose only permanent characteristic is inconsistency.
I am the custodian of a sacred mandate, freely given, which I cannot surrender unless the people so demand.