BY OLOYE ‘LEKAN ALABI
When I first met Bashorun Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, GCFR, at the first DS Adegbenro Memorial Lecture at the Akin-Olugbade Events Centre, Ita Iyalode, Owu, Abeokuta, Ogun State, in 1981,he graciously allowed a healthy friendship to grow between himself and my humble self. As such, MKO used to introduce me as “Lekan Alabi, my friend from Ibadan”, despite my objections and insistence that, I preferred to be introduced as his protègè, and not friend. Igi imun jinna s’ori.
Until his incarceration in General Sani Abacha gulag in Abuja in 1994,till his sudden death in 1998, MKO made me a regular adviser of his, on issues, however confidential. Among these was the withdrawal of his high traditional title by the Katsina Emirate, on the heels of the Babangida awful annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election.
When Babangida announced his so-called annulment in a radio/tv broadcast on Saturday, June 23rd, 1993, we, the Executive Members of the Association For Democracy In Nigeria (ADIN) disregarded Babangida’s joke, and inserted a half page presidential congratulatory advertisement, 30 years ago tomorrow, in the 1st July,1993 issue(page 11) of the Daily Sketch newspaper. *See the copy in the almanac below*
Saturday, 1st July, 2023 marked the 30th anniversary of that daring ADIN advertisement.
When MKO, again, invited me for our regular confidential meeting, as it were, in his Ikeja, Lagos State home, in September 1993, on what to do about Babangida’s ill-fated and unfair annulment of his presidential election victory, I answered him with the idiom in the headline of this post above; “Sir,You Are Carrying An Elephant On Your Head….”
A former Personal Secretary to a former Managing Director of the Lagos Airport Hotel, Ikeja, Mrs. Margaret Akondi, typed my letter containing my advice of the elephant and the cricket allegory to MKO, that he should let go the Presidency of Nigeria, as he was already globally recognised.
Twice, Margaret stopped, while typing the letter to MKO, if indeed I was going to send the letter to MKO.I answered Margaret in the affirmative. To convince her I was serious, Prince Olagunju, a prince from Ede, Osun State, the dispatch rider of LAH dispatched that letter to MKO home, where it was received and officially signed for.
Now, Nigerians are enjoying true freedom vide the inauguration of the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu-led Federal Government, since Monday, 29th May, 2023. May the country never fall into the deadly clutches of anti-democracy vampires again. Amen.
Since a tree does not make a forest, it is only fair that I name my fellow patriots in ADIN. They were Mr. Felix A Adenaike, the late Mr. Peter Ajayi, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, Ambassador Ibironke Adefope and Mr. Tony Aneni (not the late Minister of Works).
On a personal note, while not on a n ego trip, may I humbly state that one’s fire for equity and fairplay started from secondary school, African Church Grammar School, Apata-Ganga, Ibadan, while a 14-year old form one student in 1964.
One joined the Senior Ogunkelu-led civil protest against the repetitive, boring dinners of eko and efo in the school.
In the same school, while in form three, one wrote a formal letter of protest to the military head of state, General Yakubu Gowon, when his FMG clamped Professor(then Mr.) ‘Wole Soyinka into indefinite detention in Kaduna Prison, without trial, in May 1967.
Soyinka’s offence? The future Africa’s first Nobel laureate was accused of visiting the then Military Governor of the now-defunct Eastern Region of Nigeria, the late Lieutenant-Colonel Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, who was on the verge of declaring the region the Republic of Biafra.
Again, it was to MKO that I ran to when Babangida, after his skin-teeth escape from the April 22,1990 Major Gideon Orkar almost-successful coup, announced the dissolution of the Odu’a Investment Company Limited (OICL). I was then the pioneer Senior Manager, Corporate Affairs of the OICL. My move to MKO saved the Yoruba-owned conglomerate from Babangida’s guillotine in 1990.
On the international level, my written protest to the World Boxing Association, against its unfair withdrawal of the boxing license and crown of the legendary boxer, Muhammad Ali, in 1970, for refusing the US Army draft to fight in Vietnam, was among the papers submitted by Ali’s lawyers to the US Supreme Court, that brought about the order of the court for the return of Ali’s title and license.
*Snr. Chief ‘Lekan Alabi, the Maye of Olubadan of Ibadanlan writes from Ibadan, Oyo State.