•Reveals His New Strategies
•Sets Up TRIBE NAIJA App
Kola Abiola is the son of late M.K.O Abiola, the winner of the 1993 Presidential Elections. He says, he is set to continue from where his father stopped. He has set up an app online to actualise his fathers June 12, 1993 mandate. Below is his interview with Naija Info FM. titled: What do you want to ask Kola Abiola?
What does June 12, 1993 mean to you and your family?
June 12 means that Nigeria, despite its diverse groups, can still speak with one voice. They spoke in one voice on that day, irrespective of their religions, irrespective of tongues, irrespective of ethnic differences and it gives me a lot of hope to believe that if the right opportunities come, we can still speak in one voice together. That’s number one.
Number two, for once we spoke in voice. We voted for who we believed could actually changed, Nigeria and then we paid the price for that today. If things were really better from that date, then maybe there was something wrong with that day. It hasn’t got any better. Our politics hasn’t changed, if not I dare say it’s even gone worst and so be it. For the family also, on a personal note, it was the said: Nigerians came together and say thank you to MKO. He’s a man of many parts. He’s a man who has touched the lives of so many people across different regions and Nigerians across the world and for once, they said thank you for everything you have done.
For those who are 22 years old, who did not experience MKO, what does saying Thank You mean to them?
It is hopefully a faith in the democratic process to see that it’s been done right and it could be done right again. For the 22-year-old back then, it’s safe to now assume they don’t know much about MKO. It’s safe to say that is because we don’t teach History in our schools any longer. But along the line, somebody they know somewhere must have been touched by the man. And that would help them to understand who we are talking about. We are hoping that history can be rekindled.
Recently, you had a Symposium with the theme: Democracy. What do you mean by that?
Democracy, the way we envisaged it, the way I understand it, hasn’t been played right. It’s the same old democratic process we’ve inherited from independence till date and it’s obvious that it’s not working for the masses. I chose that theme to demonstrate that if we want inclusiveness of the present demographics, we need to change that system. We need to change it from its head and disrupt it to be inclusive of the generation that makes 51 percent of the voting public today. We can’t continue to live with the old system and expect them to involve the youth or to have sentimental attachment for them to own the system. What I am just trying to do is to come up with a process that disrupts the electoral process and have the youth own the process themselves.
How would you assess the current state of Democracy in Nigeria?
It doesn’t exist. It’s only Democracy in name
And yet you said we’ve had the longest uninterrupted 22 years, experience. Add all the other little bit to it, I will say it’s time to change it.
It’s time to disrupt the process. It’s time to, like I said, get all inclusive, provide a platform where everybody’s vote would count, not just a restrictive few. We have to in many ways, drop the barriers to entry and significantly reduce the cost of politicking in Nigeria.
Apart from the Symposium, what are you doing to set up a political party that’s going to do it in rememberance of Abiola at least, vote for somebody like you?
For many of us, everything we do is to an end. But for Kola it’s not. It’s just something that started way back, came to an abrupt end in 1993. I want to see that finished and completed and I want to complete the democratic process and that’s why I am doing this. I want to hope that with this App, I can bring enough of our voices together under one umbrella. When I say enough of it, your inner demographic for sure at 50 and if you bring enough of us together under one umbrella speaking and talking to one another hopefully, we would find common thread among all of us. And I am sure there is. We can now begin to debate, have that Conversation; what do we do with all these numbers that we have? I’m hoping we can get a 30 million user under that platform if not more. I hope we can average a reasonable figure per state to cover every state and every local government in Nigeria. And when we get talking, I hope we can breed a new leadership from an App. From that, we can now have a new people to represent us and we can elect our own. We would get to that discussion at the appropriate time. Once we have critical mass, we can talk to ourselves what do we want to do with these numbers, How do we exercise the power those numbers give us accordingly to change the whole process and be in charge and own it and that’s the objective here.
What App are you talking about?
I’m talking about the Tribe Naija App. It’s a platform I started discussing 12 years back. I put pen to paper 10 years ago. I started on the App itself and developing it that was two and half years back and we launched June 12. We launched it because I was beginning to get worried with the way things were going. We needed to speak with one voice and be seen in one voice. We’ve been exploited as individual groups and our diversity over the years have been exploited to the detriment of all Nigerians. And I felt with this, we can bring the next generations of Nigerians together. I have been through it before, I went through the process, I understand the process and I hope with this, I can be in the middle of the road where I bring that demographics to the centre, bring the older ones to the middle and together collectively we can move forward. And change the course of democracy and politics in Nigeria.
And do you consider yourself a bridge?
That’s what it is. There’s always a bridge. Yar’Adua was the first bridge. My dad completed that. Unfortunately we didn’t get pass that and I want to complete that bridge, at least, bring everybody together and make sure we have all inclusive governance in Nigeria.
Looking at the circumstances surrounding your father’s death, do you feel any anger towards what happened? How were you able to forgive and let go easily?
Second, do you have any regret that your father would have taken another method to reclaim his mandate?
I have absolutely no grievance and my faith accepts outcomes. My faith accepts the fact that things would always work it cause. My faith accepts the fact that irrespective of MKO’s going into politics, and running for office, he would have die the same day he died. My faith accepts the fact that as a true Muslim everything was designed and orchestrated by God. What anybody does otherwise, it wouldn’t change the cause of history. That’s just instrument in the wrong direction. That said, I don’t regret the process, what my father achieved in 59 years, almost 60 when he passed away, no African or Nigerian would ever surpass that. He achieved a lot more than anybody put together. What he has achieved is to give us sense of collectiveness and if that’s what we get from this, then Alhamdulillah! That’s enough for me. As to whether he should have taken another course post June 12, but tell me what other cause he would have taken than to stand by his mandate and fight for that mandate. You know Leadership at times means you have to be objective even at a cost to yourself. And I think he took that; his leadership role and everybody that voted for him, he took that to heart and he fought a good fight despite the outcome. I’m proud to have parents that I have. I am thankful to them for my upbringing, I’m thankful to them by their show of example and if I do anything less than that, I think I wouldn’t be doing them too much good. And that’s another reason I think, at least, I should complete a true democratic process for Nigeria. If this is my only little contribution to it then Alhamdulillah for that! But I don’t think it’s too late. I think they fought for the unity of Nigeria and I will continue to do that. I hope that with the little effort that I’m able to make to bring that to stay.
I have no regret, I’m not bitter, I’m sure the biggest onus is on the actors themselves. They have to wake up every morning and live with it, that’s enough for them to think about for the rest of their lives.
Do you think participating in politics is the best thing you can contribute to the welfare of Nigerians?
Are you a member of APC?
No! I’m not a member of any political party to start with. I’m not a registered member of any party. I have refused to be a participant in politics for the one reason which was because the whole June 12 process, is still ongoing. There’s no end to it. And anyway, an end to that would be for the recognition of my father’s election and the victory at the election itself. For me, the only way that recognition could come was giving him that GCFR, which was only done 2 years ago, and that’s why I have not been a Minister, not because I haven’t been offered. There have been clamour for me to get involved, but at that point, it’s still an unfinished business. Now, I didn’t announced myself that, I was going into politics. What I’m saying is to create an environment where every Nigerian voter’s vote would count. I didn’t say I was in a political party. What I want to do is to set up a platform that would speak and keep Nigeria as one, will speak and appreciate the numbers we have, especially the 51 percent that are between the ages of 18 to 42. If you can all come together and vote 20 million of you on Big Brother, I’m sure you could put 20 million of it together and make impact on your life by making sure you put that power of vote to work. So, that’s all I’m saying. Let me give you the platform to know that you have that kind of volume and power in those numbers. And we can have a discussion on how we can apply those numbers. That’s what I’m trying to do. I never said I was going into politics. I’m not a player. The best example I can give is Sheu Yar’Adua that started NPF. He ran for office, he was banned, never got to be president. My father came in, he never became the president. So, it’s an endless thing. There has to be an objective and my own objective is to bring as many of the kids and the age groups together to really change Nigeria, have a stake in it, and cut your teeth in the game. I want to create that opportunity. That’s what I’m doing.
What good would the “Tribe Naija” app do in the face of no electoral reforms?
One of the biggest strategies I had to develop running the Hope 93 Elections was how do I convert the popularity of MKO to votes.
So you ran the Hope 93 Election?
Yes, I did. I did the Strategic planning and execution of that election as a team. Anybody out there today that has been involved in politics knows what I did at a tender age of 29, back then. So, I have taken that experience, I have taken my experience of 1979 going around with my late father, under NPN to develop something that I think would allow for grassroots politics. Like I said, the biggest challenge was converting that popularity to votes. MKO was known across the length and breadth of Nigeria as a giver, changing the lives of people. He was known to support sports, education, he was known to support the young. He gave them the opportunity to create and be heard. There’s nobody out there who didn’t recognize that. So, what I’m trying to do is to bring us together on the App, Tribe Nigeria. If you are on Android, you go to the Google play to download it. If it’s IOS Apple, you go to the App store and download that. It’s to create a collection of voices, a collection of young minds to come together and hopefully on that platform, you would speak to one another, we would talk about the issues, we would come up with our own solutions to the issues and hopefully there we could collectively appreciate ourselves and create a critical mass who will begin to make impact on our daily lives politically. At the appropriate point, the App would enable us to make the required change. It would be cheaper and would definitely have no barriers to entry. It would also help cut the cost of politicking in Nigeria. We will map you down to your local government. You will know what you have on the platform and the numbers of Tribians available.