Hafsat Abiola-Costello, daughter of Moshood Olawale (MKO) Abiola has revealed how former President Goodluck Jonathan turned down Rauf Aregbesola’s advice to honour her father.
The economist spoke from Brussels during a virtual colloquium tagged: Africa: Interrogating the Leadership Question.
Hafsat disclosed that Jonathan expressed fears that there might be a backlash if he recognized Abiola, the winner of the 1993 presidential election.
She recalled that long before President Muhammadu Buhari assumed power, Aregbesola, the Interior Minister pressed for recognition for Abiola as a former President.
Abiola died on July 7, 1998, after four years of incarceration for treason after the Ibrahim Babangida regime cancelled his victory.
Hafsat said: “There was a story that one of my siblings told me. You know that recently President Muhammadu Buhari honoured MKO but Ogbeni had been working on it. He had a one-man campaign on this issue.
“And well before President Buhari was President, when we had President Jonathan, Ogbeni also approached Jonathan to make an appeal that MKO be honoured.
“My sibling told me that they sat with President Jonathan and President Jonathan asked: “what do you think should be done and how do you think it should be done?
“Ogbeni offered his thoughts and President Jonathan said do you think it is possible because he had some concerns about backlash. So, it was not something that was carried out eventually.”
In 2018, Buhari honoured the late business mogul, philanthropist and sports lover with the highest honour in the country.
The Nigerian leader also ordered that Democracy Day be marked annually on June 12, as against May 29, as a mark of respect for Abiola.