Monday, 30 July 2018

My Father's Autopsy Remains Inconclusive Till Date- Hafsat Abiola


Hafsat Abiola-Costello, a daughter of the winner of the June 12, 1993, presidential election, the late Chief MKO Abiola, has said the autopsy conducted to unravel the circumstances surrounding her father’s death is inconclusive.

Abiola-Costello said though the report was released, it failed to confirm that her father was killed in a controversial circumstance.

Asked about the insinuations that Abiola’s death in detention was not from natural causes and if his family tried to independently verify how and what he died of, she said, “An autopsy was conducted that did not find anything suspicious but considering the fact that not all poisons can be traced, I feel that their report is not conclusive.”

Abiola-Costello also said she was still “mystified” by the fact that former President Olusegun Obasanjo failed to honour Abiola like President Muhammadu Buhari recently did with the posthumous conferment of the highest national honour, Grand Commander of the Federal Republic, on her late father.

She said, “I have always been mystified by General Obasanjo’s inability to honour my father as President Buhari has now done. It was not his finest moment but I must confess that I’m glad that if he didn’t want to honour my father, he wouldn’t do it.

“My father’s sacrifice was such that it should not be belittled by honour grudgingly accorded. The intervening years were as painful for my family but listening to President Buhari’s speech on June 12 and hearing the sincerity behind his words was worth waiting 25 years.”

Asked if she agreed with the people who believed that Buhari’s GCFR award to her father was a bribe for the South-West vote him in 2019, Abiola-Costello said there was nothing wrong with the honour.

“I feel President Buhari’s actions were sincere but for the sake of argument, would it be wrong for the President to do something that Nigerians wanted? Isn’t that what we want of our leaders? I would say let him continue to ‘bribe’ us with policies and actions that demonstrate that he is listening to the people of our country,” she said.

Speaking on the award of the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger to Abiola’s running mate, Babagana Kingibe, which was widely criticised as he allegedly abandoned the mandate while her father was incarcerated, she said it might be that her father no longer trusted his running mate.

Abiola-Costello said, “Perhaps my father didn’t trust him (Kingibe). Perhaps events were moving so quickly that it was difficult to maintain an effective, open line of communication. Perhaps their relationship was too superficial to withstand the pressures and intrigues that came with the annulment. Who knows?

“Nigeria’s political system is often an aggregation of interests, most of them short-term in horizon. They are not conducive to building a movement, waging a struggle that could take years, as the June 12 struggle required. Those that came together into the political parties hadn’t anticipated an annulment and when the annulment became a reality, they all had to assess their options. The majority of politicians chose to support the military junta and moved on.

“My father’s running mate wasn’t alone in making that choice. Interestingly, Nigeria’s democratic political system continues to be largely an aggregation of interests. And it continues to lend itself to brittle alliances that cannot withstand the pressures of political debate and the contestation of interests.”

Abiola-Costello was also reminded of June 30, 2012, when the prime suspects behind the murder of her mother, Kudirat Abiola, Hamza Al-Mustapha and Alhaji Lateef Shofolahan, were sentenced to death by hanging but were later released on appeal by a court in Lagos.

Reacting to the question on how she felt about it, she said, “I don’t believe in the death penalty. However, I can’t understand how people who are clearly guilty of murder are simply declared innocent of the charges in spite of the evidence against them. It would be one thing if people that are sentenced are pardoned and it’s quite another when they are simply said to have no case to answer.

“If they have no case to answer, how did my mother die? Did she commit suicide? It’s not good for our country that we simply fail to hold people accountable for their actions at every turn. In the face of such brazen impunity, how can we expect people, by and large, to follow the rules? We would simply be laying the foundation for opportunism, a society governed by force and not by laws, and violence.”

Asked to rate the Buhari administration’s performance on its key promises to fight corruption, create jobs and provide security, Abiola-Costello scored the government low.

She said, “I think the administration has fallen short of its promises, probably because the problems are more complicated than they had expected coming in and because the dynamics between the executive, legislature and judiciary have not been seamless.

“Likely, if it is elected to a second term, it should be able to do better, having used this first four years to develop a good understanding and some capacity for driving the system to deliver results.”

Source: The Interview

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