Adams Oshiomhole, a former Edo state Governor, has said the Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC, made efforts to free late Moshood Abiola, the presumed winner of the 1993 presidential election, from detention, but he (Abiola) rejected the offer.
In a statement made available to journalists in Lagos on Saturday, the former NLC President said the labour union were, after several attempts, granted audience to the late politician and pleaded with him to accept the bail conditions offered by the junta regime of General Sani Abacha.
Oshiomhole stated that MKO Abiola, however, rebuffed the pleas of the then NLC President, Paschal Bafyau, arguing that he would not do the bidding of the military regime to forego his purported presidential mandate.
He said, “When Abiola was in prison, we made several efforts to see him but the military were blocking it. But finally one day, we went there and (a former NLC President), Paschal (Bafyau) who led us to him, said, ‘sir, we want you to accept the bail with all the conditions attached to it.”
“We told him that these guys are ready to keep him in prison for a long time and ensure that he will not be able to come out alive.
“The late head of State, (Sani) Abacha has asked Abiola to go and make a national broadcast withdraw his earlier statement of pronouncing himself president. But Abiola said, ‘I will remain here in prison; I will not do their bidding.
“Abacha eventually died and Abiola also died. Today, Abiola’s children can go anywhere and say I am Abiola and they will be respected.”
Oshiomhole, who is contesting for the APC National Chairmanship position, recalled the importance of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, adding that many trade union activists were direct beneficiaries of Abiola’s generosity.