Many people remember the late Chief M.K.O.Abiola as mostly a politician as well as a passionate philanthropist. What they probably did not know was that he was a man who loved sports even to the point of distraction.
Abiola died in controversial circumstances in 1998, five years after he was jailed by the General Sani Abacha government for trying to claim his mandate in the wake of being declared the winner of the now famous June 12 presidential elections.
But just when it looked like he had been forgotten by successive governments that have benefitted from his unique sacrifice to enshrine sustainable democracy, the one- time Aare Onakankanfo of Yoruba land suddenly resurrected Tuesday as the Federal Government immortalised him, setting aside June 12 every year to honour him.
According to a press release signed by President Muhammadu Buhari, June 12 would henceforth become a public holiday to commemorate the democratic ideals of free, fair and transparent elections that the former business mogul stood for.
This was aside from being posthumously awarded the highly revered Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR)
But beyond the accolades, it should be noted that Abiola is also deserving of awards in sports followership and sponsorship.
Remember the Abiola Babes FC? The late industrialist not only owned one of the most flamboyant club sides of his era, he ensured they made their mark, winning big both on the domestic and continental scene. His unprecedented knack for supporting good causes and helping football thrive in Nigeria had moved the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to honour him as the first Pillar of Sports in Africa.
He also owned the Concord Football Club of Abeokuta as well as several other commitments to the overall development of sports in Nigeria.
Abiola is known to have blazed the trail of Nigerians who genuinely loved sports by actually committing huge resources, in cash and kind, at every opportunity in order to improve the fortune of sports in Nigeria.
Abiola was also a grand patron of the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN) before his demise.