There are indications that some of MKO Abiola’s children are set to revive some of the late billionaire’s businesses. One of the children at the forefront of this move is Abdulmumin, who is Kudirat Abiola’s son. When asked in a recent interview what exactly is his grouse with his elder brother, Abdulmumin said, Let me state that I have no intention to demean Kola. The Abiola family is still one united family. But I don’t think apart from him other children of my dad are involved in the handling of the properties our father left behind. We are not involved in the decision-making of these properties.
“What I have been trying to do is to get my other siblings together to take decisions together concerning the property. I believe that one brain cannot be compared to 30 brains. I have brothers and sisters all over the world who are doing great things. But my thinking is that we all need to sit down and see how we can keep alive the legacy our father left behind. I don’t believe in selling (our father’s properties). My idea is that everything should be shared equally. I want us to develop ideas on how to move forward based on what Abiola has left behind for us. What I am asking for is just a basic way of handling things.
“My father is dead, but there are things everyone should know. True, he (Kola) is the head of the family – he is the first son and he has responsibilities to shoulder. And these responsibilities go beyond his immediate family. I expected him to have taken up that mantle. We are like 30 boys. So, if he wants to be the head he could have delegated some of these responsibilities. His doing everything (concerning the properties) will not augur well for anybody.
“It’s like the problem we have in Nigeria: the man in Abuja wants to control what’s going on in Mushin or what happens in Zamfara or Taraba State. That won’t work. What I would have expected to have happened was once I graduated from the university and returned to Nigeria and (Kola says), ‘Okay, Abdul, handle this.’ I have been to some farmlands; it’s all over (the country) like in Taraba and Kwara. These were large farms properly set up (by our father). They are not just pieces of lands in the middle of nowhere.
“There are silos on them; they have tractors. Some of these farms were even well irrigated. So, all Kola has to do was just to continue with the formula that has already been working. But for some reasons – I don’t understand what those reasons were – he chose not to (do something about the farms). Eighteen years later, all that had happened was that we missed an opportunity to grow.
“What I just said is: enough is enough. Some of my brothers and I have decided to do a couple of things. We are trying to renovate some properties. We are going to take things one step at a time. I am taking my time. I don’t want a situation whereby one starts something and cannot keep up with it. What is the reason behind what I am trying to do? The idea is to change the narrative. After Abiola died, there are other people who have ideas.
“The funny thing about ideas is: if I tried using my idea and it doesn’t work, then we can go back to the drawing board to fashion a new way out – why don’t we try it like this? It shouldn’t be a unilateral decision. Everybody should sit down to deliberate on issues. I have some of my brothers in the country. I have started reaching out to them. I have been getting information across to them and we are looking at how to move forward.
“You see, the idea of speaking out about the issue of our father’s property is not to fight with anybody. I am not fighting anybody. I have no intention of fomenting trouble. My point is that I don’t believe in doing the same thing and looking for different results. If something has been done for 18 years and it has worked, then why don’t we try something different? That is all I care about – that is why I am calling my brothers together and say, enough is enough. Yes, our father is dead; he had his own faults just like every other human being.
“Nobody is perfect. But there are great things about my father that we should not allow to go down the drain. Concord Newspapers back then had 172 people working there; after two years it’s difficult to remember something like that once existed. When I was growing up I used to see workers queuing up to collect their salaries in our house. My father would be smiling when he was writing cheques because his employees were making profits.
“So, where have those profits gone? Even if we don’t have any money now, there are assets my father left behind – I went to Lafiaji in Kwara State; there was a silo sitting on a 10,000 hectare of land. This is something no one has followed up on. In a year like this when Lagos State is collaborating with Kebbi State on Lake Rice. With the farms we have we can collaborate with state governments and we can move forward from there.
“It’s a funny world you know: no one will tell a child, ‘This is where your father’s farm is.’ No one will tell you. It’s up to you. When you are roving about, running up and down, looking for something to take care of yourself, no one will tell you this is where your father built a house. They will just be watching you. I said I waited for 18 years – I appreciate the virtue my mum and dad taught me about patience. So, I was patient with Kola for 18 years.
“The other siblings were patient (too). We gave my brother (Kola) time to do his own thing. We wanted to see where he was going. You know (it’s like) when you try to talk to somebody and he doesn’t want to talk to you, you should give the person a long rope (so as to hang it around his neck). He is not somebody you’ll call his attention (to something). We (Kola and I) had a conversation recently, but he wasn’t forthcoming (on the issues discussed). I don’t need any further information.
“And, it is clear in the will my father left – everything is stated clearly in the will – he (Abiola) said, ‘Everything should be split equally among my children.’ It’s vital everyone sits down to deliberate on the way forward. It’s not a fight. He (Kola) has some institutions he runs. I am not interested in those ones – I am not looking for trouble. I am looking for the ones (properties and investments) that are abandoned and I will try to revive them. One year, I took a trip to see the properties my dad had all over the country.
“I met pleasant people who welcomed me and everybody was saying, ‘When will the farms be revived?’ For me, it goes beyond reviving the farms. It is about restoring hope to the people my dad had made commitments to. These things go a long way. You don’t just go somewhere and change things – for 18 years, these people did not see an Abiola. It doesn’t look good. I spoke to them that I wasn’t in the country. And now, Insha Allah, I will try my best to bring in some investments.”