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A national chairmanship aspirant of the All Progressives Congress and former governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole, said the late Chief MKO Abiola rejected a move by the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress to free him from detention.
Oshiomhole stated this in a statement made available to our correspondent in Lagos on Saturday.
The labour activist recalled the importance of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, adding that many trade union activists were direct beneficiaries of Abiola’s generosity.
He nevertheless regretted that a sincere move by labour leaders to free Abiola from the military’s detention, did not work out as planned because the late politician declined the offer.
He said, “When Abiola was in prison, we made several efforts to see him but the military were blocking it. But finally one day, we went there and (a former NLC President), Paschal (Bafyau) who led us to him, said, ‘sir, we want you to accept the bail with all the conditions attached to it.”
“We told him that these guys are ready to keep him in prison for a long time and ensure that he will not be able to come out alive.
“The late head of State, (Sani) Abacha has asked Abiola to go and make a national broadcast withdraw his earlier statement of pronouncing himself president. But Abiola said, ‘I will remain here in prison; I will not do their bidding.
“Abacha eventually died and Abiola also died. Today, Abiola’s children can go anywhere and say I am Abiola and they will be respected.”
He also cited an instance when Bafyau led labour leaders, including a young activist, who he simply identified as Muhammed, on a visit to the late Abiola.
He added that Paschal, after the meeting, introduced Muhammed to Abiola as a young Nigerian who wished to go for further studies in the United Kingdom.
“Abiola said, ‘Waoh’ and asked Paschal, who was sponsoring him. Paschal said we were still looking for resources to help him.
“In fact, Abiola just wrote a note and told Muhammed that when he gets to London he should call somebody and collect 10, 000 pounds from him. Abiola made that young guy, an instant millionaire,” Oshiomhole added.
He also explained how the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi defended him when former President Olusegun Obasanjo allegedly moved to jail him and other leaders of organised labour when he was in power.
He said Obasanjo was against the leaders of the NLC then because they were opposing his anti-people policies.