17 years ago Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola died (24 August 1937 – 7 July 1998). M. K. O. Abiola, was a popular Nigerian Yoruba businessman, publisher, politician and aristocrat of the Yoruba Egba clan.
Here are 17 things you didn’t know about him:
1. Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola was born in Abeaokuta Ogun state.
2. His name, Kashimawo, means “Let us wait and see”.
3. Moshood Abiola was his father’s twenty-third child but the first of his father’s children to survive infancy, hence the name ‘Kashimawo’.
4. It was not until he was 15 years old that he was properly named Moshood, by his parents.
5. MKO showed entrepreneurial talents at a very young age, at the age of nine he started his first business selling firewood. He would wake up at dawn to go to the forest and gather firewood, which he would then cart back to town and sell before going to school, to support his old father and his siblings.
6. He was the editor of the school magazine The Trumpeter, Olusegun Obasanjo was deputy editor.
7. At the age of 19 he joined the National Council Of Nigeria and the Cameroons ostensibly because of its stronger pan-Nigerian origin compared with the Obafemi Awolowo-led Action Group.
8. As a businessman, he had investments in 102 countries.
9. As a philanthropist, he donated, in 1991, N120 million to all higher institutions in the country, among others.
10. His financial assistance resulted in the construction of 63 secondary schools, 121 mosques and churches, 41 libraries, 21 water projects in 24 states of Nigeria, and was grand patron to 149 societies or associations in Nigeria.
11. As a chief, he bagged more traditional titles than any other Nigerian.
12. Following common tradition, Abiola took four wives; Simibiat Atinuke Shoaga in 1960, Kudirat Olayinki Adeyemi in 1973, Adebisi Olawunmi Oshin in 1974, and Doyinsola (Doyin) Abiola Aboaba in 1981.
13. He is said to have fathered over 40 children from these four marriages.
14. Abiola’s second wife, Kudirat, was murdered in the capital city of Lagos in 1996. There was speculation that her death was caused by the military, but no proof was ever found.
15. His third wife, Doyin, ran a newspaper chain he owned until it was closed by the government.
16. He ran for the Presidency in 1993, and is widely regarded as the presumed winner of the inconclusive election since no official final results were announced.
17. Abiola died under suspicious circumstances shortly after the death of General Abacha. Moshood Abiola died on the day that he was due to be released, on 7 July 1998. While the official autopsy stated that Abiola died of natural causes, Abacha’s Chief Security Officer, al-Mustapha has alleged that Moshood Abiola was in fact beaten to death.