Abiola’s family does not support Yoruba Nation agitators – Jamiu Abiola

Special Assistant to the President on Special Duties in the Office of the Vice President, Jamiu Abiola, speaks with DANIEL AYANTOYE on the declaration for a sovereign nation of the Yoruba people by his father’s widow, Modupe Onitiri-Abiola

Over there his calls for a sovereign nation of the Yoruba people. What is your opinion about this?

Such calls are common in countries as large and diverse as Nigeria. Even in the United States, some people for some reason do not believe in the union of that country. But just like in the United States, these people are a minority in Nigeria; so they are unimportant.

Your late father’s widow, Modupe Onitiri-Abiola, recently declared Yoruba nationhood in a viral video. How would you respond to this?

I heard about it, and like almost all Nigerians, I didn’t take her statement seriously. I’ve never met her in my life, let alone knew her motives. But that’s not what’s important.

How come you never met her, and she claimed to be a relative?

My father had four official wives, in addition to women who are also called his wives. That’s the kind of man he was. He wanted to take care of as many people as possible. So he saw certain types of relationships as a good way to do that. After his death many years ago, you cannot expect every member of his family to act in a way that represents what he stood for. But overall, most members of the Abiola family are promoting the ideals he stood for and I am proud to say that.

It was also alleged that she was behind the invasion of the Oyo State Secretariat. What is your opinion about this?

Investigations are underway. So I wouldn’t say much about this issue until they are finalized. As you can imagine, it is a sensitive issue. While I don’t consider the woman my stepmother, she bears my father’s name, which in itself is a tragedy considering the action she took. My father would have been devastated if he were still alive. He loved the unity of this country so much and he would have even sacrificed his presidential mandate to preserve it if he felt he had to.

Are you not concerned that her decision to declare the Yoruba nation could be seen as positioning the family of MKO Abiola?

When it comes to the unity of Nigeria, many people know how much my father believed in it. Even after his arrest and incarceration, he did not for once advocate the division of Nigeria. So, I do not believe that any member of the Abiola family has the right to further the division of this country, especially now, because if my father had been alive today, he would have been so happy that his close and very competent employee, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is doing everything he would have done had he been allowed to exercise his mandate.

Nigeria’s comparative advantage is its diversity, and our patriarch sacrificed his life for a democratic mandate he got from all Nigerians because he had proven to all Nigerians that he believed they were one. It’s such a shame that someone would use his name to promote the breakup of this country. That woman did this without anyone’s support.

But one of your brothers fought against President Bola Tinubu in the 2023 general elections. Doesn’t this mean that not all Abiolas follow President Tinubu’s mandate?

During the battle, some family members sold out. They tried to get close to General (Sani) Abacha for contracts etc. These people turned my mother’s life into a nightmare and indeed made her last days miserable. As you said, even in last year’s elections, a family member did the unthinkable by running against President Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Like everyone else, this family member knew that President Tinubu was and remains our father’s closest and most loyal aide. Yet he broke ranks with the family just as this woman is doing by declaring a Yoruba nation.

Most of our relatives are responsible and serious people. But when it comes to the established authority, we have a matriarch called Alhaja Adebisi Abiola. She is a noblewoman and has always defended my father’s interests and protected his name after becoming matriarch following the death of Alhaja Simbiat Abiola and my mother, Alhaja Kudirat Abiola. Another person who has a lot of authority in our family is Mrs. Lola Abiola-Edewor. She is not only the eldest Abiola child; she is also a seasoned politician turned financial technocrat who has served in the House of Representatives and the NDIC.

You say that Mrs. Onitiri-Abiola declared Yoruba nation on her own accord and without support from any member of the Abiolas. Are you saying the family won’t worry if she gets arrested?

The family is certainly concerned about the arrest of anyone bearing her name, but we are a law abiding family. We therefore believe that justice can take its course. We are also aware of the fact that once all investigations have been completed and a sentence has been imposed, the authorities reserve the right to pardon or not pardon an offender.

Some have described the offense she committed as treasonous. Aren’t you concerned about the implications of this?

I think you should save this question until after the research has been conducted.

What is the situation in the family after her declaration?

As previously stated, the family cannot support her statement in any way. No right-thinking Abiola can support the division of a country like Nigeria. Two prominent members of our family; my father and mother gave their lives for its unity and progress. In this family, we believe that Nigeria has a divine purpose, and that purpose can only be achieved when it is united. There is no one related to my father who does not hold the unity of Nigeria as sacred.

He (MKO Abiola) had over 200 traditional titles across the country; he had investments across the country and he empowered people from all parts of the country, regardless of their ethnic or religious affiliations. Ultimately, all this paid off in his 1993 elections. Although his presidential ticket was a Muslim/Muslim ticket with a northern running mate, he managed to secure almost half of the southeastern votes even though his opponent’s running mate was not only a south-eastern Christian, but also the head of the defunct Biafran Central. Bank.

Unrest for the Yoruba nation has subsided since the rise of President Tinubu. However, some have said that the reason for such agitation is the inequitable distribution of the country’s resources. How will you respond to this statement?

Debates over resource distribution are ongoing and should never be a basis for advocating the disintegration of a country. What many people have not realized is that Nigeria’s most valuable resource is the diversity of its population, coupled with their individual comparative advantages. Nigerians must look beyond mineral resources and look up to countries like Japan, which have capitalized on the ingenuity of its people to establish an economic powerhouse and fuel the rapid development of four other Asian countries known as the Asian Tigers . People use all kinds of arguments to defend the call for secession, but in the long run it’s all about the numbers. Nigerians who believe in the unity of the country are much more than those who cry for the disintegration of the country under any guise.

But Nigerians face hardships every day due to the policies of the Tinubu-led government. Don’t you think this can continue to influence the minds of proponents of Nigeria’s breakup?

When people complain about the hardships resulting from these government policies, I quickly remember something that happened when I was a child. When I had malaria at the time, I was taken to the hospital, but when it was time to get injected, I ran back home because the hospital was close to my house. Then my mother had the staff drag me back to the hospital and hold me for my injection. That same day I would feel worse, but two days later I would not only feel better but also play around the house. That was when my mother started teasing me for resisting the treatment needed for my illness. This is the same thing that will soon happen in Nigeria. The people will experience a drastic economic upturn and will thank the government for these policies.

The unions have proposed over N615,000 as the new minimum wage but some have said this is not realistic. Do you agree with them?

I am not qualified to answer this question. But as many people know, President Tinubu loves Nigerian workers, and he is determined to ensure that they receive excellent wages and benefits, as long as there is still enough money for the government to focus on other critical areas such as security. to target. , education, healthcare and infrastructure.