1993 was supposed to be the beginning of a great future for Nigeria, the world’s largest black country.
Nigeria was returning to civil rule after a long military dictatorship. Nigerians were hopeful of a brighter future because of one man – MKO Abiola.
I had graduated from college a year before and was working for Africa’s largest circulating weekly newspaper, WEEKEND CONCORD. Abiola was my boss.
He was the most charismatic man I’ve ever met and I’ve met tens of thousands of people all over the world in my work as a journalist, activist, and filmmaker. He was Africa’s richest man, the most philanthropic black person alive, and patron of the Congressional Black Caucus. Leaders from all over the world visited him.
Then, the dream turned into a nightmare.
Abiola won the election but the military refused to let him rule. They jailed him and unleashed terror on the country – imprisoning, assassinating and forcing political opponents into exile. My newspaper was banned. Businesses were disrupted, lives upturned and protesters murdered on the streets by Soldiers.
I fled to America where I worked with Amnesty International. There I saw first-hand the battle to rescue Nigeria from the military. It was a crazy world of deals and double speak – from the White House to the Congress, from the oil companies to churches and mosques.
After four years in jail, an American delegation led by the Under Secretary of State Tom Pickering and Susan Rice arrived in Nigeria to meet with Abiola. Ambassador Rice serves Abiola tea, he drinks it, collapses, and dies.
This is the story of a man, an election, and how the world conspired to deny the world’s largest black democracy her duly elected president. It is told by people in the thick of the story. They include Presidents, Ambassadors, Politicians, Activists, Abiola’s family members, and Journalists.