Chief Moshood Kahimawo Olawale Abiola (MKO Abiola)
Date of Birth: 24/07/1937
Place of Birth: Abeokuta
Education: Baptist Boys High School, Abeokuta, 1951-56; University of Glasgow, UK, 1961-63.
Career: Deputy Chief Accountant, University of Lagos Teaching Hospital, 1965; Financial Controller, Pfizer Products Ltd, 1967; International Telephone and Telegraph (ITT) Nigeria, 1968; Chief Executive, ITT Nigeria, 1971; joined the National Party of Nigeria (NPN), 1979; retired from NPN, 1982; presidential candidate, Social Democratic Party (SDP), 1993; arrested for treason, 1994.
Commentary: Abiola won the 1993 elections, widely believed to have been Nigeria’s freest and fairest ever. He was denied the mandate by General Babangida, military ruler from 1985-93, who cited the large amounts owed Abiola by the federal government as sufficient reason to annul the election results. Abiola was placed in prison by Sani Abacha, who succeeded Babangida. He outlived Abacha by a day, dying of poison directly after a meal with an envoy from the United States. He had been in prison for four years and died the day before he was to be released. Prior to his arrest he was one of Nigeria’s wealthiest men, but his fortunes suffered while he was in prison.