8th July, 2011
Â Hafsat Abiola-Costello, daughter of the acclaimed winner of the annulled June 12, 1993, presidential election, the late Chief MKO Abiola and his wife, the late Kudirat Abiola, has revealed how the many friends of her father abandoned the family immediately after his arrest and eventual death, leaving the children of the late Abiola alone to mourn their huge loss.
Costello, who was at the graveside of her father, MKO Abiola, alongside her brother, Abdul-Mumuni Abiola, Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka and Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin in Ikeja, to lay wreathe, said it was a shock that 13 years after, MKOâ€™s friends have all disappointed, adding that only Prof. Wole Soyinka and the late Dr. Beko Ransome Kuti are MKOâ€™s true friends. Hafsat spoke with Joy Ezekhume at the grave side
What can you remember about your father?
My father, the late MKO Abiola had a great lifestyle in his days. About a hundred or more people came daily to the house to see him because he would always help them out, whatever need they had. They would throng our house and my father was always there, listening; he never discriminated, treated everybody equally, the same respect he gave to the rich was what he gave to the poor. Dad was there because he was true to his cause. He preached fairness, he preached equality, love and not just religion. His programme, â€˜Farewell to Povertyâ€™ was real. It was what he stood for. He was not a poor man, he was rich but he wanted to use his wealth to affect the people. So he gave.
I remember him for his kindness, his frankness, his transparency, his stand against corruption, against darkness, which we are seeing now 13 years after he is gone.
But painfully, when my father died, his friends disappeared into thin air. These were indeed hungry friends who were there for contracts. It seems clearer everyday. They rode on his back for opportunities. I believe we lost nothing in losing such friends. I was shocked to see that when he was arrested, and it was clear he was hitting political powers, most of his friends backed out; those who were always in need of his help, his connection, his favours because my dad, he would call those who called the shots and help those who needed it. Then my dad died, and his friends went with the wind.
Did they all disappear?
Yes they did. Except for the late Dr. Beko Ransome Kuti, the late Gani Fawehinmi and Prof. Wole Soyinka. Dr. Beko, I call him Uncle Beko, was always quick. You couldnâ€™t tell what was on his mind, but he was really deep and nice. Uncle Beko was my dadâ€™s close friend and he always came to his grave with flowers. On June 4 before his death, he came to my dadâ€™s grave side to lay flowers. Uncle Beko was always for the struggle until his death.
Uncle Wole Soyinka too, oh, he was it! Uncle Wole was always there with my dad, then with us. He was with my dad abroad when he (Wole Soyinka) was in exile and then my father flew back and the rest is history.
Uncle Wole had been fighting against the ills in government, blackout, no electricity, no good roads, no good services, waste of resources and so many other things but see, years after my dadâ€™s demise, thereâ€™s been really no improvement.
What areas, specifically, can you cite that needs improvement?
My daughter, Anabella, was born 4 years ago in China. Anabella speaks Chinese, English and French languages. The story is if Anabella was born in Nigeria, she probably would never have lived to make it for the first seconds of her life. Her chances would have been and still are very small, because Anabella was born six months. But unlike a baby born in 6 months instead of 9, 8 or even 7 months, Anabella is alive, well, hale and hearty with no ailment, disease whatever. Anabella is running around like other children of her age and presently, she is in a private primary school, enjoying classes.
Anabella was born in China for some reasons. She came before her full time when I was pregnant. Anabella survived it. In China, you know, value is placed on life. If we had a country that managed its resources, these tragedies will be avoided. Anabella is very well and normal like children of her age.
With the World Bank report stating that more than 90% of Nigerians live below two dollars per day, it is disheartening, especially when faced with the data of the numerous potentials in Nigeria.
Our people need not die when they give birth for so many reasons. Children need not die because they are coming to this world, a child going to school does not have to affect the family, to the extent of impoverishing families to advance their education.