Hafsat Abiola-Costello is the latest Nigerian speaker at the TEDxEuston event where she spoke on ‘Tapping into our superpowers.’
Hafsat, who is the daughter of the late MKO Abiola and Kudirat Abiola touches on her family’s legacy in Nigeria and the strength found within to continue the legacy.
The Founder of the Kudirat Initiative for Democracy (KIND), which seeks to strengthen civil society and promote democracy in Nigeria, Hafsat leaves us with a call to action to help shape the future of Africa. As we elect new leaders in the coming weeks, Hafsat’s message should be a reminder that we need to get it right, not just for us alone but our children also.
Read her part of her message below,
When I went to China, I had already been running my NGO which I named for my mum, which was training 100 women per year which I’d done a vaginal monologue in Nigeria and then written the stories of Nigeria women themselves and then written the stories of Nigerian men so that we can be communicating.
And all of those things that guide the NGO I named for my mum was doing, we continue to do those things. But when I went to China, the Chinese told me, “Hafsat, enter the state because there’s power in the state. You cannot say its corrupt, it’s the people that are there and if you are there, you can bring that new energy.”
So when I went back to Nigeria in 2011, I went back to a state cabinet position in Ogun state. there, I was managing $20 million for the Millennium Development Goals, the salary was about $2000 in 2011 and by 2015 when the currency collapsed, it was about $800 and that’s really not a lot but when you compare that money to what the poor in Nigeria make, you are so rich.
But for many Nigerian people in government, they don’t compare to what the Nigerian poor is doing, they compare to the global elite and then, they start to abuse the public funds. They start to do the things they shouldn’t do.
Then I remember that there is no divide between life and death and that whether my colleagues or whether all of you can see me, MKO can, Kudi can. And their own hope is not for me to undermine the democracy for which they gave their lives.
So that money for the poor, I protected it for the poor. If it was to put water in schools, I put the boreholes in schools for the clean water for the children. If it was to build health centres, I made sure I did that, if it was to build schools, we did that. I was not interested in the poor people’s money.
I knew I was only one person but I wanted what I was doing to be an example to others. Yet, some people called me foolish for not squandering the money. And its okay also because I was having a conversation with all my ancestors that have come before, who have stood and defended a continent.
And I was saying to them, “I’m your child, see me here”, and many times, they will send so much help, so much help at many critical times. So I knew that they saw the journey.
So, when I say to my little children, ‘you are superhuman’, I mean there’s something within you that could be called up at any time to defend the continent. Today, China has committed a new round of $60billion. The US is also building a new development fund committing the same amount, much of it marked for Africa.
I was just in Germany yesterday where the Germany government has the new marshall plan for Africa and they’re finishing their policy on Africa. But I say to my brothers and sisters, this will not be the first time that Africa has been the most beautiful bride and it has hardly led to a healthy, functional marriage.
The difference this time is you because before we didn’t know. Now, we know. You are here for Africa; do not believe that you are here for yourself. Africa is more than you, we have had 400 years of exploitation, it is not all our states that are the problem.
In fact, the Soares foundation did the study that, ‘Africa, $50billion is being taken out of your countries every year. 13 per cent is from your states”. So when they spend so much time talking about how your governments are corrupt, they represent 13 per cent of the problem.
20 per cent of the problems are the criminal underworld, trafficking in arms, drugs and people, the bulk of it are the multinationals. But we now have allies who have campaigns on this, you can work with them. We have now allies even within the corporate world, all this same actors.
We’re just playing a game that we could play at that time because they could play it, now, you show them that that game is done, and that a new game is now in the offing for Africa.
You will be the one to show them and the nature of the reality is when you show them, they will agree. They were only doing it because they could and when they say they cannot, they will stop and you are the one that will show them with your very lies.
MKO said they will not shave my people’s heads in their absence. You can try to negotiate with them. You can take his life but that is all you can do. he will not betray, I will not betray.
Watch her speak here
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