With investments cutting across key sectors of the nation’s economy, including but not limited to banking, telecommunication, education, aviation, oil and gas, the late M.K.O Abiola was reckoned as a successful businessman, almost all the businesses were thriving.
However, 25 years after his death, almost all his businesses have collapsed. Below is a list of some of Abiola’s defunct businesses as listed exclusively by Vanguard Newspaper.
1. Habib Bank, now defunct
Abiola with late Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, had floated Habib Bank of Nigeria Limited which thrived while both were around and even after Yar’Adua’s death.
Late Yar’Adua was the elder brother of the former president, late Umaru Yar’ adua, and was also the former number two man under Olusegun Obasanjo’s military government.
Habib Bank was founded in 1982 and started operations in 1983. The bank was formed in partnership with Habib Bank of Pakistan, which holds 40 percent shareholding of the bank while Late Chief Abiola and late General Shehu Yar’Adua were the largest Nigerian shareholders.
While the value of late Abiola’s holdings in Habib Bank could not be ascertained, he was however chairman of the Board of Directors till his death in 1998.
Upon his death, his first child, Mr. Kola Abiola was appointed chairman of the bank.
Habib Bank acquired Bank PHB in 2005, in a bid to meet the December 2006 deadline for the N25 billion new minimum capital base, with Kola Abiola, retaining his position as chairman of the bank.
2. Summit Oil failed to produce
With the call for increased indigenization of the oil and gas industry, previously dominated by the international oil companies, IOCs, and others, Chief MKO Abiola took a bold step to invest through his Summit Oil International Limited in 1990.
The company bidded and won Oil Prospecting Lease, OPL 205, located at the Anambra Basin, north of the Niger Delta.
Summit Oil, as it was popularly called, invested huge funds, deployed suitable technologies and competent human capital to carry out exploration in the area.
Summit established a slim but efficient staff of 50 professionals who operated the full range of exploration activity and moved the company rapidly towards planned early production.
Summit acquired 2D seismic in 1991 and drilled the first exploration well in the first quarter of 1992, which discovered the Otien Field on OPL 205 – arguably the first oil discovery ever by a private indigenous company in the Federal Republic of Nigeria
3. Concord Airlines
Concord Airline entered the market in 1990 with much funfair and expectations in the Nigerian aviation industry, apparently riding on the popularity of the MKO Abiola brand. But before it could be counted among the serious players in the sector it flew into the storm that followed the 1993 presidential election and crashed.
The airline had about Four fokker27 aircraft and Abiola’s private jet in its fleet. According to a Lagos airport official, who was in active service then, and does not want to be named, Concord Airlines was more into charter operations than regular flight schedule.
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Several reasons have been adduced for its early demise, principal among these is Abiola’s foray into politics and his incarceration and eventual death. Rev. Olumide Oyediji, a top official of Abiola Farms, was quoted as saying: that “the difficulty in gaining access to the chief executive officer of the enterprises, while Abiola was in detention, brought untold hardship to the businesses”.
4. Abiola Bookshop: Hanging on to past glory
A visit to No. 362 Herberth Macaulay Way in Yaba area of Lagos for a first timer would reveal an unkempt and almost abandoned building housing the once famous Abiola Bookshop.
The opinion of any visitor will be that the bookshop has folded up as building which last painted many years ago is begging for a touch of a paint brush.
A reporter who visited saw that it is still functional, but not like it used to Another staff who does not want his name said that “we are operating skeletally but we are definitely still open for business. We are not allowed to speak concerning the company,” he noted.
5. Concord Press, shadow of its old self
Concord Press, one of the once thriving business concerns of late MKO Abiola added flavour to the practice of journalism when it came on the media scene in the early 1980s.
In fact, at a time, Weekend Concord, one of the publications of the media house was the highest selling newspaper in Nigeria with copy sales of well above 400,000. But all that came to an end with the June 12, 1993 debacle that led to the collapse of the media empire.
When a reporter visited the premises located between the Murtala Muhammed International Airport and local terminals, last week, it was a shadow of its old self. The buildings were dilapidated and the place deserted.
The only thing linking the premises with the once thriving media empire is a billboard at the entrance to the compound with the name of the publishing firm, Concord Press of Nigeria Limited.
6. Banuso Fisheries, Berec Batteries
An investigation on its agricultural businesses which included Banuso Fisheries, and Wonder Bakery, producers of ‘Wonder Loaf’, brand of bread revealed that the businesses have all closed down.
A former employee of Banuso Fisheries Limited, Bayo Ogunsanya, who said he was in charge of operations confirmed that the company was one of the businesses of MKO Abiola that went moribund after his death.
7. ITT company failed to recover
Information indicated that the telecom giant, International Telephone and Telegraph, otherwise known as ITT, was an American telecom firm brought into Nigeria by the late Chief M K O. Abiola. The company was already having problems before June 12, 1993 and eventually could not recover after the demise of the promoter, MKO Abiola.
For many years the firm tried to fix the nation’s deficiency in tele-communication services but could not make a headway until it went moribund .
A recent visit to the office at the Jibowu Bus-Stop on Ikorodu Road showed that the building housing the former ITT company is still standing but with a new occupant – Inspire Vocational Academies where all kind of vocations from shoe making to cookery, tailoring, welding and other vocations are taught.
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