Yahaya Bello: Polygamy, Domestic Politics and Sisters at War
By Nafisat Bello
“I had discovered long ago the first lesson of political courage: to think anew. I had then learned the second: to be prepared to lead and to decide. I was now studying the third: how to take the calculated risk. I was going to alienate some people, like it or not. The moment you decide, you divide.”
– Tony Blair
Polygamy may sometimes create a complex family system involving the husband’s ability to manage his relationship with his many wives and their respective children.
Polygamous families have distinct household problems, usually stemming from jealousy between or among co-wives over the husband’s affection and resources…. And children experiencing physical and emotional trauma associated with parental neglect.
Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale (Basorun) Abiola was a rare kind of human being. He was born into extreme penury but lived the better part of his adult life in stupendous wealth. When they came, his riches were out-of-this-world and his love for humanity and philanthropic spirit were outrageous. He had money in excess, connections at home and abroad in abundance and above all, he was larger-than-life. He enjoyed life to the fullest, he was bigger than kings and queens. He could pull stunts nations and continents wouldn’t dare. He could afford the most expensive luxuries, the most exotic women. He had them in abundance – wives and concubines in different shapes and sizes and countless kids to boot. A typical African big man…. Arguably the biggest and richest man on the continent in his time.
In a large family of amazing riches with competing women and kids who grew up under the tutelage of wives at war, it is normal for the presence of a little tension across board. So no one was surprised when a visibly angry Tundun Abiola who works as an anchor on Arise TV dressed down her half sister, Hafsat Abiola-Costello, for daring to mention the name of their heroic father in the same sentence as Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi state.
Tundun, a lawyer, is the daughter of Mrs Bisi Abiola, Abiola’s third wife, while Hafsat is the daughter of Abiola’s second wife, Kudirat, who was murdered on December 4, 1996 during the June 12 struggle.
Hafsat had on Saturday been appointed as the Director-General of the Yahaya Bello Presidential Campaign Organisation when the governor formally declared his intention to run for President on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Hafsat had disclosed that there are certain similarities between her late father and Bello. She said they both believed in a united Nigeria, both refused to have political godfathers and noted that they also treated everyone around them with respect regardless of their social standing.
Speaking in an interview with Arise TV over the weekend, Hafsat said she accepted the appointment because Governor Bello shared some qualities with her father. This singular statement triggered her sister to react on Monday during the popular Morning Show where she is an anchor, condemning the comparison of her Dad to the Kogi state governor.
Deploying the strongest words in the English Dictionary, Tundun said her sister did not have the right to “exploit” their father’s name for Bello’s benefit.
“Besides there are a lot of political players in his team; not one of them feels the need to throw their fathers under the bus for the sake of their principal.
“Come out and talk about your principal, his antecedents, his plans for the future of Nigeria and leave daddy out of it.
“It is not her right because it is not her name. It is our name and it is also a name of future generations of Abiola yet unborn who should be proud of a legacy” she said.
During his declaration ceremony held at the Eagles Square in Abuja, Governor Bello had himself pledged to restore the vision of Abiola which is to bring hope to Nigerians and also bridge the gap between the rich and the poor.
While Abiola’s slogan was Hope ’93, that of Bello is Hope ’23, with the same person that worked on the former’s manifesto also on board with the latter in the person of Senator Jonathan Zwingina, who is the national coordinator of the Bello Campaign Council.
Hafsat could not have compared Bello with Abiola on the basis of nothing, she has her facts, and they are beyond beer parlour tales. Her parents were martyrs for democracy, and she insisted that their martyrdom will not be in vain, that hope must resonate yet again, and that with Bello, Nigeria, she says, is on the march again.
It’s quite interesting to note that Abiola was 56 years old when he sought the highest office in the land with the mantra of Hope ’93. Bello is a decade younger, at 46 with Hope ‘23 seeking the same office.
Beyond the family feud, since making that historic declaration, Governor Bello’s approval rating has gone up to the roof. His popularity among youth and women has more than doubled, and the glaring similarities between his campaign optics and that of Abiola’s heroic struggle have helped to enhance his chances. As far as the APC is concerned, Bello will be the candidate to beat, and he would be unbeatable.
The odds favour him. And as far as Hafsat is concerned, even the spirit and soul of the late Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yoruba land abide with him.
When Abiola’s spirit is with you, what can be against you?