Chief Abimbola Moyosore Aboderin, an international banker, defence expert, industrialist is the son of one of the First Republic politicians in Ibadan, late Chief Moyosore Aboderin, the founder and financier of the Ibadan People’s Party and the Action Group. Aboderin, 67, was the secretary of the finance committee that raised N350 million cash for Bashorun Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, during his campaign for the historic June 12, 1993 presidential election, which was later annulled.
A member of the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP), Aboderin, who was also one of the three confidants of Abiola, who took decisions and executed them during the campaign, was also close to Adedibu who was also one of the trio that formed Abiola’s kitchen cabinet for the campaign. The other person is Abiola’s lawyer, Chief Abimbola Ajibola, now a traditional ruler in Ibadan.
Aboderin, a confidant of the late author of “Amala politics”, Adedibu, claimed that the refusal of Abiola to pick a nominee of the then military president, Gen. Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida as his vice presidential candidate led to the annulment of the election.
He told Daily Sun that Abiola once told him that Babangida gave him two names from which to choose his vice presidential candidate but Adedibu, the strongman of Ibadan politics changed it. The two names were the former labour leader, Paschal Bayfiau and the late Alhaji Maitama Sule.
He speaks further: “I knew Abiola through my father, Olola Moyosore Aboderin who was a politician and businessman and we became good and close friends, Adedibu, the then strong man of Ibadan politics was more or less like the father of politics in the country then and everybody come to him to discuss politics, but he was my father’s boy or political son, he learnt from my father and that was how we became close.
“When the Social Democratic Party (SDP) 1993 Jos convention was getting close, I went to Adedibu’s house which I visited regularly, I met MKO there and he told me he was worried about the convention because the North had more delegates and if that is the case Alhaji Atiku Abubakar who was contesting the position of president with him will definitely win and that is why he has come to see Baba Adedibu, I encouraged him and told him God will do it. From there Adedibu became his political godfather.”
Aboderin said he attended the Jos convention of the SDP as a special monitor and “to do whatever I can to ensure that Abiola wins, but as voting was going on it was clear that Atiku was winning. Atiku was winning because he was using the late Shehu Musa Yar’Adua’s political structure. Yar’Adua had won the first election of SDP, which was cancelled by Babangida, Yar’Adua was Atiku’s boss. Adedibu confessed that we cannot win the election that we have to do something.
“So, while voting was going on and it became glaring that Atiku was coasting home to victory, Adedibu went to see Yar’Adua, who was in Jos in the night. He told the late General that in the last election which he won, he (Adedibu) made all the South West delegates to vote for Yar’Adua and that this time around he should ask Atiku to step down for Abiola.”
Aboderin said although Atiku later stepped down for Abiola, “but Atiku’s people were not happy that the election went the way it did as they almost lynched us. We had to sneak out of Jos but before then I was given a letter of thank you for Yar’Adua which I handed over to him in his house in Jos, thanking him for his support and ensuring Abiola’s victory.
“We came back to Ibadan and campaign started, we put everything in place even organised a campaign fund raising event at Premier Hotel, Ibadan on 16th May, 1993 with me as secretary of the fund raising committee where together with previous campaign donations we realised N350m in cash which was kept in my custody over night before we drove down to Lagos and handed the money over to Abiola”.
All this while, things were still rosy between Babangida and Abiola, they were still very good friends and interacting well.
He was however quick to add that “I don’t think he deliberately wanted to scuttle his election but the issue that started the whole wahala was the issue of who becomes vice president to MKO Abiola.”
Aboderin said Abiola told him that Babangida gave him two names to choose from for the slot, but Adedibu changed it saying they were not even politicians. The two names were the former Labour leader, Paschal Bayfiau and the cerebral Maitama Sule “but Adedibu said it should be given to the SDP chairman, Babagana Kingibe. Adedibu was of the opinion that as the party chairman, Kingibe could mess things up for the party and that Abiola should go and tell Babangida, who appeared not to be happy. That was the beginning of the wahala.
“At this time Babangida was no longer happy with Abiola but he kept his cool. The election came and it was very peaceful, it was in fact the best election in the history of this nation. And we had already started celebrating victory in Abiola’s residence at Ikeja when we heard that the election had been annulled and we were shocked.