In accepting President Muhammadu Buhari’s apology on behalf of the family, Abiola’s daughter, Hafsat also apologised to the President for the wrongs her late father might have done him.
She said nobody could have imagined, considering the kind of relationship between them, that Buhari would be the one to honour her late father.
“Who would have ever believed, given the relationship that you had with Mr MKO Abiola, that you would be the instrument God would use to honour this man and to bring recognition and healing to the country?
“You apologised to my family and it touched my heart. You know that I also lost my mother in this struggle, so that apology meant so much.
“Let me use this opportunity, on behalf of Abiola, because I know what he would have done, to apologise to you and your family for anything that he might have done to harm you and to harm your family,” Hafsat told the President in an emotion-laden voice.
She quoted her late mother, Kudirat, as telling her that Abiola was already rehearsing his acceptance speech as of the time the election was annulled.
Hafsat, however, regretted that despite trying hard, the late business mogul could not go beyond the introductory line of the speech during the rehearsal.
According to her, all Abiola wanted to tell Nigerians in the aborted speech was how he loved them.
She said, “My mum told me how he (Abiola) would stand before the mirror as he was rehearsing his speech because the results were coming in and he thought he was going to deliver it.
“You know he used to stammer, so he would start by saying ‘My dear fellow Nigerians’ but he never really got passed ‘fellow Nigerians.’
“He would say a few words, and he would say he did not like that and then, he would start again. He kept struggling to say what he wanted to say to Nigerians.
“What MKO wanted to say to the Nigerian people and all that MKO did say to the people of Nigeria is to say, ‘I love you the people of Nigeria, I believe in you the people of Nigeria.’
“He was born Yoruba but he loved Hausa people, Kanuri, Efik, Igbo people, he loved all of you. You just needed to be a Nigerian and MKO was your man. If he could help he would do.
“There were so many things he already did to show that and that was why the people of Nigeria rewarded him with the mandate of June 12, 1993.
“But we know that he was never able to deliver that speech but in many ways, the event that transpired later revealed to Nigerians the eloquence in his heart, the fidelity of his commitment and even his own deep abiding wish that if there was any way his own actions would in any way compromise the people of Nigeria, MKO preferred to die.
“He preferred to leave the earth rather than compromise on you, on your integrity as a people, and your sovereignty as a nation.
“This was why even the day before he died, when he was still being pressured, he asked the question, ‘how do you shave the people’s heads in their absence?’
“He knew he was present in the room where he was pressured but he knew that so long as he refused to allow his own head to be shaved as a symbolic message to you the people of Nigeria that you will be saved.
“When he died, we accepted his body and have watched in Nigeria as year after year till now, the 25th year, you the people have suffered and he was not recognised at all.”
Hafsat regretted that while Abiola was committed to seeing Nigerians bid poverty farewell, more Nigerians were in poverty today than the figure in 1993.
By recognising June 12, Abiola’s daughter said Buhari had awaken many heroes and heroines of Nigeria’s struggle who stood firm on June 12.
“If there is any march that we need to march, if there is any protest that we need to be present to protest, you have called up your own new Army for the defence of this country.
“Mr President, this fight will not take you God willing as it has taken MKO but let us fight and bring about the conclusion of MKO struggle that the Nigerian people should be the ones in full control of this country.
“It is not for a few landlords whoever they maybe, it is for the 200 million people of Nigeria,” she concluded.
Abiola’s eldest son, Kola, therefore, requested all family members in attendance to stand up while he thanked the President, saying they accepted his apology and the award.
“Mr. President, on behalf of the MKO Abiola family, we accept both the award and the apology. We will like to thank you for the great honour you have done our family.
“We thank you for taking the decisive measures to strengthen our democracy and guarantee our future by reconciling our past. Thank you very much sir. Generations to come will honour you for this,” he said.