Since the demise of his parents, Jamiu Abiola, son of the late Kudirat Abiola, like his siblings from the other wives of the late philanthropist cum politician, Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, has kept a low profile, even though he is doing well in his undertakings.
Opening up to Wole Adepoju on why he and his siblings have chosen to operate in the background without raising any eye brow in spite of the fact that they have a name that rings a bell, articulate and soft spoken Jamiu says it is only normal for a human being to make a review and get his priority right after going through a situation that shook him to his foundation.
For him, it was just people’s opinion that his father was flamboyant, but since he was not in the actual sense of the word, there was no way he could have raised them to thread such a path, and according to him, that explains why neither his siblings nor himself is living up to people’s expectations in that regard.
He says, “Well, it’s only normal. When something happens to you and it shakes you to your foundation, then you will have to look at your priority and change your way of thinking. There is no way we can be living that kind of lifestyle. What happened was a tragedy and when I say tragedy, I mean it in capital letters and it’s something that is enough to knock somebody out emotionally for a while and if you remember, it happened about 20 years ago.
“So, this is what we all are still coping with in our own way. And when people are in that kind of a situation, it’s normal to withdraw and pick the broken pieces of their lives. In terms of being flamboyant, my father was not really flamboyant. People would say he was, but he never brought us up to try to impress people. We always value things that are different. We value knowledge, good character; we value generosity. It’s not about oppressing people and living up to a certain image so that you can look better than others. That is not our priority.”
My mother did exactly what a woman is supposed to do to her husband in that situation. MKO was 15 years older than my mother, he had a mind of his own, he had 250 traditional titles across the entire country and he was somebody that everybody knew wanted to become the president of Nigeria. Nobody can push a man like that
Asked whether the sudden demise of his parents altered his initial plans in life, Jamiu says the incident did not because he never actually tied his existence to that of anyone.
“No. it really did not affect my initial plans because I have never really put my life on anybody and say this person is going to determine what I do with my life. Since I was a child I had always been doing things on my own and standing on my own. I have always had my plans for myself independent of anybody, even of my parents. Of course, I’m very grateful to them for providing education and giving me good advice and direction but in terms of how I wanted to live my life, I know exactly what I wanted to do and that is exactly what I’m doing right now. They had always told me to think well, take care of myself and plan well so that I can make something good out of my life and I’m grateful that is what is happening now. So, in that case their death has not changed any plan I had for my life,” he says.
The first few minutes of an encounter with Jamiu is enough to discover that he’s a devout Muslim, but unlike his late father, he’s married to just one wife. Asked why he’s stuck to one woman inspite of his religion’s endorsement of polygamy, his response is quite interesting.
“The religion, like you said, allows polygamy, but it does not say you have to practise it. This is the way I’m going, I only have one wife. You never know, in the future, I may decide, but it’s not something I know for a fact that is going to happen or not happen. So, I don’t want to comment on that,” he says.
Being from a wealthy background, do material things appeal to him? He replies, “You know I’m in my early 40s. I’m not a billionaire, but definitely, I’m a millionaire at my own level and I thank God for that. I employ at least 75 to 80 people, which is something that I’m happy about and I pay them their salaries on time. So, I’m actually happy with the level at which I’m going and I hope it
But how does he feel losing both parents to a particular cause? Jamiu says, “It’s a very tragic thing to have happened, but I have also heard about people whose parents died; maybe they were travelling or armed robbers attacked the car and killed the father and mother, but in this case, I’m even happy that they died for a worthy cause. If not for the sacrifice they made, for example, sometime back, I went to New York. I went with my younger brother, my mother’s youngest child, Adi. We now saw a street named after our mother and I said to myself, wow.
“She was born in northern Nigeria and, of course, she’s from Ijebu and all of a sudden goes to Manhattan, the best part. If you want to get an apartment on the street named after my mother, you can’t spend less than seven to eight thousand dollars a month. It’s just a couple of minutes’ drive from the United Nations headquarters. For them to actually recognise a woman in that kind of a place… apart from Nelson Mandela, no African has ever got that honour and I don’t even think any other African can be honoured like that in this generation or even the next generation. So, compare that to other people that lost their parents, may be they went on a plane and the plane was not well maintained and it got crashed and they died. So, I thank God that they actually died for a cause that people can say because of their sacrifice, democracy has come to the most populous black nation in the world and I thank God for giving me the grace to look at it from that angle.”
Jamiu is, however, not happy about one thing. And that is insinuations that his mother pushed MKO Abiola, her husband, beyond his limits in politics probably because she wanted to be the country’s First Lady.
Explaining, he says, “Well, the issue of the first lady. The truth of the matter is that would even come up because she was the senior wife and it was only automatic for her to become the First Lady. But a real woman will always follow her husband, especially if the husband is on the side of truth and especially if the husband has made up his mind that that is what he wants to do.
“My mother did exactly what a woman is supposed to do to her husband in that situation. MKO was 15 years older than my mother, he had a mind of his own, he had 250 traditional titles across the entire country and he was somebody that everybody knew wanted to become the president of Nigeria. Nobody can push a
man like that.”