10 Interesting Facts You Should Know about June 12

Any excuse to escape capitalism, even if it’s just for a few hours, is always welcome, and June 12 is one of those special days off every Lagosian looks forward to. Every year, the young people in Nigeria celebrate Democracy Day on this day and in honour of Chief MKO Abiola, here are some interesting facts about this legend who fought for our democracy:

  • Born August 24th, 1937, Abiola was his father’s 23rd child and the first of his father’s children to survive infancy. This was why he was named Kashimawo, a Yoruba name which translates to “Let’s wait and see.”
  • Abiola was a lover boy, and he certainly had a lot of love to share. He got married to his first wife, Simbiat Atinuke Shoaga, in 1960, Kudirat Olayinka Adeyemi, in 1973 and had several other wives and concubines who all made him a father to more children than he could count. 
  • Chief MKO Abiola’s wife, Simbiat Abiola, was not a fan of Nigerian politics, and we cannot blame her because politics is not exactly the safest career choice in the country. However, the determined politician clearly had a passion for politics, and he found a chance to pursue it after the death of his wife. 
  • Abiola had an impeccable reputation throughout his lifetime. He had an early involvement in politics as he joined the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC) at age 19 and was very passionate about fighting for Nigeria’s democracy.
  • He contested the first presidential election in the country after the military coup headed by General Ibrahim Babangida in 1983 and won in 20 out of the then 30 states, including the Federal Capital Territory and in his opponent’s home state. 
  • The military government was clearly displeased with Abiola’s victory as Babangida annulled the results of this election. However, the relentless Abiola took Nigeria by storm as he decided to declare himself. the lawful president of Nigeria in the Epetedo area of Lagos Island. 
  • At Epetedo, Abiola gave a beautiful speech titled “Enough is Enough.” However, the military government felt threatened by this speech and sent not one or two but 200 police vehicles to apprehend this one man and bring him into custody.
  • Even in solitary confinement, the military government, which recognised that Abioa was still a force, entrusted him with fourteen different guards, a Bible, and a Qur’an.  Activists around the world lobbied for his release to no avail. The only condition attached to his release was that he renounced his mandate, but Abiola stood on business and refused to do so.
  • After waiting out his time in prison, Abiola met a sudden and unfortunate death on the day he was to be released, shortly after Abacha’s death. An autopsy found substantial evidence of longstanding heart disease. However, General Abacha’s Chief Security Officer, Hamza al-Mustapha, swore that he was beaten to death, and many other Nigerians believe that he was poisoned.
  • Abiola was awarded the highest national honour, the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic, as he lived at the forefront of fighting for democracy in Nigeria and died for the same cause. The name Chief MKO Abiola will forever be imprinted in history as the man who fought for the people and with the people, which is why the country celebrates its democracy on June 12 every year. 
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