Ms. ‘Rinsola Abiola is one of the daughters of the late Alhaji M.K.O Abiola. She is currently the Special Assistant (New Media) to the Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, and President, All Progressives Congress Young Women Forum (APC-YWF). The young politician is also a youth representative on the APC Board of Trustees. In this interview with Assistant Editor, Dare Odufowokan, she spoke about her late father’s struggles for the actualisation of June 12, 1993 mandate and the recognition accorded him by President Muhammadu Buhari. Excerpts
HOW do you feel about the honour done your father by President Muhammadu Buhari?
It’s been a long time coming and I am glad that someone has finally done the right thing. President Buhari has shown with this that he is a man with a strong sense of justice. He has done what others failed to do for over two decades and he had given my father his rightful place in the history of our nation. I feel good about the gesture of Mr. President and I am sure many people also feel the same way.
Do you think declaration of June 12 as Democracy Day is politically correct?
It’s not just a political matter, it’s a moral issue. My father laid down his life for the freedom of this country and her citizens and what the president has done is what justice demands. It is politically correct. And it is morally alright too. We are happy that he has been recognised at last for laying down his life for democracy in Nigeria.
It’s going to be 20 years since daddy passed away in July; two whole decades. This is coming really late but better late than never. The fact that some people refused to acknowledge the truth doesn’t mean others won’t do the right thing. For whatever reason you think it is, it took 20 years and others could have done this but they didn’t.
Can you recall some of the difficult moments of your father’s struggle for the actualisation of June 12 mandate?
Every other day, back then, during my father’s struggle for the actualisation of June 12 mandate, was a difficult moment. I grew up without a father, hoping that he would be home someday. Every single day was difficult and knowing that he was never going to come home was even more so. As a family, we felt sad while he was in detention. We were sad, but hopeful for his eventual release. However, that never happened.
Was there a time the family or the children wanted him to give up the struggle?
Well, I can’t speak for everyone but I’m certain the thought must have crossed many minds. Daddy gave up his comfort and essentially everything he had to fight for what he believed in, no matter the cost. For me, my conviction has always been strong. He had an aim and a cause he completely believed in, and he pressed on despite the cost.
Do you have any idea why your father refused to abandon the June 12 mandate? Or did he say anything about his resilience?
I believe the reason is simple; collective benefit should always outweigh personal motivations. My father was selfless and this reflected in everything he did; from how he cared for the masses to his struggle for democracy. My father wanted the total emancipation of the Nigerian people and he stood firm for what he believed in. What he did is the most courageous and noble thing anyone could do.
As a child of this great man, how do you feel when you remember him and what he stood for?
I feel proud to be his daughter. He was a great man and even now, 20 years after his death, he continues to inspire greatness in others. My father was the quintessential patriot; he was compassionate, he was generous, and he loved this country so much that he invested most of his wealth here and wanted to impact positively on millions of lives by leading us. He also took his religious obligations seriously and these are values I strive to imbibe.
Would you say Nigeria has treated the Abiola family well, or is there anything more you would want done for your father and for June 12?
Yes. I would like for him to be officially declared the winner as I still do have issues with the term “supposed winner”. We need to make it official. It would also not be too much to seek justice regarding his death and the deaths of all other democracy activists during those dark days. So far, Nigeria has not certainly treated the Abiola family well. However, President Buhari has initiated the process of righting the wrongs.
Tell us about your adventure in politics and why you chose to get involved.
My foray into politics began in 2013 when I served as the founding Public Relations Officer of the All Progressives Youth Forum (APYF), a youth support group for the All Progressives Congress, which was then still in its formative stage. As months passed by, one thing that continuously nagged at me was the need to correct the serious underrepresentation of young women in the party’s youth section.
The involvement of young women through mentoring and capacity building would ensure the grooming of a new generation of women who are prepared to hold both elective and appointive positions and have a clear strategy for engagement.”
Credit: The nations