By Richard Thomas, Ibadan
Barely days after the celebration of the sixth anniversary of the demise of late Aare Musulumi of Yorubaland, Alhaji Abdulazeez Arisekola-Alao, a veteran journalist and close associate of the late business mogul, Oloye Lekan Alabi has explained how the Islamic leader became a victim during the days of the agitation for the actualization of June 12, 1993 Presidential election.
Chief Alabi made the revelation while featuring on ‘Parrot Xtra Hour On Radio’ anchored by Olayinka Agboola and broadcast live from Space 90.1fm, Ibadan on Tuesday.
According to the Ekefa Olubadan of Ibadanland, the Aare did not play any role in the annulment of the June 12 Presidential election popularly believed to have been won by late Chief Moshood Abiola and his running mate, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe.
Oloye Alabi said, “Arisekola did not have any business with the election. His crime was that our people knew he was close to both Generals Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida and Sani Abacha.”
Alabi then went ahead to explain how the late Aare Musulumi got to know the Generals.
He said, “You see, Aare Arisekola became really blessed with wealth early in his life. He became a force to be reckoned with. Along the line, he became friends to the biggest names in the military then.
“He became so influential to the extent that whenever any military or para-military head was being posted to Ibadan, they were always being instructed from their headquarters in Lagos to ensure they showed face in Aare Arisekola’s residence in Ikolaba.
“When General Abacha was posted to Ibadan in the late 80s, he was given the same instruction. So, he visited Arisekola at home and later, the Aare went to visit him too at his official residence located within Iyaganku GRA in Ibadan.
“When Abacha was seeing the Aare off, he saw that he came in a brand new Sportscar. The military officer there and then indicated that he loved the car. Arisekola, being a cheerful giver, immediately handed over the key of the car to him pleading that one of Abacha’s boys should just drop him at home. That was how they became serious friends.
“Along the line, General Babangida became the President, he gave Arisekola the contract to supply food and others to the Nigerian contingent serving in ECOMOG. This continued until Abacha took over as President.
“Immediately Abacha took over, he stopped the ECOMOG contract given to the Aare. He gave the contract to his brother or so. The Aare took this in good faith.
“This in essence meant that the Aare kept away from Abacha. However, he was shocked at an event at the University of Ibadan after the annulment of the election where he was accused of being part of those who annulled the June 12 election. His newly acquired limousine vehicle was damaged that day. It was a really terrible experience for the Aare.
“And he was attacked all because of the erroneous belief of our people that he was Abacha’s friend. Arisekola never participated in politics. He was a private businessman and Islamic leader.”
Chief Alabi also used the opportunity to hail the President Muhammadu Buhari–led administration for recognizing June 12 nationally and declaring it ‘Democracy Day’.
The ace journalist who doubles as the Ekefa Olubadan of Ibadanland also submitted that the June 12 annulment saga was an unfortunate incident that robbed the country of a whole lot, including the opportunity for true unity among Nigerians.
According to him, all Nigerians wanted MKO Abiola (popular for his farewell to poverty slogan) at the time because he was known to be a philanthropist who genuinely had the people’s interest at heart.
“On some occasions, MKO would write a note to his bank managers, and instruct them to give out a certain amount to whoever he wanted to help. He didn’t necessarily need a cheque. And he gave generously to whoever met him for help, in fact, you didn’t have to ask him. He also employed so many people at Abiola Bookshops, Concord Group of Newspapers, Wonderloaf and several other business concerns owned by him”.
The former Corporate Affairs Director at O’dua Investment Company, when quizzed on whether President Buhari had done enough in recognition of Abiola’s efforts, reminded Nigerians that the administration has three more years to go. He expressed the belief that a lot could still be achieved within his remaining years.
He then took time to commend the efforts of Journalists, human rights activists and others who fought gallantly side by side to ensure the realization of the June 12, 1993 mandate given to late Chief MKO Abiola.