One of the daughters of the late MKO Abiola, says her family is grateful to the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, for the role he played in seeing to it that her father was honoured.
In June 2018, President Muhammadu Buhari conferred on Abiola, the presumed winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, the title of Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR).
Buhari also declared June 12 as the new Democracy Day, in place of May 29.
Speaking from Brussels, Belgium, during a virtual colloquium tagged ‘Africa: Interrogating the Leadership Question’, Hafsat Abiola-Costello said Aregbesola Aregbesola had embarked on what she described as a one-man campaign for the recognition of Abiola as the winner of the election.
She said the former governor of Osun State raised the issues with ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, but he expressed fears that there might be a backlash if he recognised Abiola.
“There was a story that one of my siblings told me. You know that recently President Muhammadu Buhari honoured MKO but Ogbeni had been working on it. He had a one-man campaign on this issue for a very long time. And well before President Buhari was President, when we had President Jonathan, Ogbeni also approached Jonathan to make an appeal that MKO be honoured,” Abiola-Costello said.
“I cannot remember which of my siblings told me this, but the sibling told me that they sat with President Jonathan and President Jonathan asked: “what do you think should be done and how do you think it should be done?” And Ogbeni offered his thoughts and President Jonathan said do you think it is possible because he had some concerns about backlash. So, it was not something that was carried out eventually.”
She said Aregbesola also saw to the naming of a road in Ikeja after Kudirat Abiola, her late mother.
“I want to thank Ogbeni for not forgetting my Dad and also my mother. You know that road, the Kudirat Abiola Road, Oregun in Ikeja. He was the Commissioner for Works in Lagos State that was responsible for that road. And this time around, I remember which of my siblings told me this story. It was Jamiu (Abiola) who told me that he (Aregbesola) would go to that road around midnight and find Ogbeni there with the workers getting the road fixed and ready. So, I just want to thank Ogbeni for the many steps he has taken to honour MKO and Kudirat Abiola,” she said.
“Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola is one of my favourite people. I like his simplicity because when he was governor of Osun, I used to visit him and I observed that his life had some simplicity about it. And his wife, Alhaja Sherifat Aregbesola would tease me saying it was because she was raised in the North.”