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Controversy Over Abiola’s Statue

Posted by By Tunde Adekeye and Tunde Lemuel on 2008/07/18 | Views: 2328 |

Controversy Over Abiola’s Statue


The statue of the late Bashorun M.K.O. Abiola, unveiled last week by Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola of Lagos State, is not a true representation of the winner of the 12 June, 1993 presidential election, annulled by the military authorities.

The statue of the late Bashorun M.K.O. Abiola, unveiled last week by Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola of Lagos State, is not a true representation of the winner of the 12 June, 1993 presidential election, annulled by the military authorities.

These were the words of Mr. Osazuwu Osagie, cartoonist, painter and sculptor during a visit to the corporate headquarters of TheNEWS/P.M.News.

The 47-year old member of the Society of Nigerian Artists (SNA), said, “that is not Abiola’s face. That statue may be dressed like Abiola, but it is not a true representation of MKO Abiola. I knew MKO very well, I worked with him for so many years.”

Asked why he thought the sculptor did a bad job, the Federal Polytechnic Auchi, Edo State-trained Osagie explained: “Recently, Nelson Mandela’s statue was unveiled in London. Everybody who saw it immediately knew it is the South African living legend. If you take a random sampling of people around, 99 percent of them would agree that the statue resembles Mandela. In the case of Abiola’s statue, everybody I have spoken to agree that is not Abiola. We produce art for society, which now appreciates the product and even judge it.”

Just as he said the statue leaves much to be desired, Osagie also faulted the location. “When you want to locate a statue, you don’t place it in a place where nobody appreciates it. That loop by the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, where cars zoom past at 120 and 140 kilometres per hour, is not ideal location as nobody looks at the statue.”

Asked what location would be more ideal, he replied, “What’s wrong with Ikeja, where MKO lived? We have Toyin, Allen, Opebi roundabout. A statue must be placed where people can look at it closely and appreciate it. So, who’s going to stop on the expressway to appreciate a work of art?”

Comparing the statue to others of its kind like Tai Solarin’s at Yaba, Awolowo’s statue in Ikeja and the statue of Herbert Macaulay in front of CSS Bookshop House in Lagos, the sculptor said these are better jobs, representative of those great Nigerians but Abiola’s statue is not a true representation, and the government should make provision for it in Ikeja.

Speaking on how the situation can be remedied, Osagie said, “What they should have done is consult experts. A job of that magnitude and importance, that concerns a public figure and is of such public interest, requires careful choice.

“You can go to the Society of Nigerian Artists, SNA, for example, and put together a team that would produce the best. The job right now is flawed and many people realize that fact.

“When you produce an abstract, it is a different thing because it is your own creation, people can read different meanings into it. Imagine going to a photographer and he comes up with something different from your face. You ask questions,” the sculptor said.

And that question is on the lips of Nigerians who have seen the Abiola statue.

For Mr. Subi Godswill, “This is just an artist’s impression of the actual person. To me, the statue looks like him but taking another look, I might be tempted to say that it does not really look like him.”

Alfa Ilorin, another respondent, stated emphatically that: “It does not look like Abiola at all”.

According to Mr. Moronfolu Kehinde, “I have made a comment to a friend before that the status resembles Awolowo and not MKO. There is no difference between this one and the Awolowo statue at Allen junction. I recommend that they should give the Abiola statue to a new person to reconstruct”.

Mrs. Adu said though the statue looks like Abiola but she is not happy about the colour.

Messrs. Saheed Oladele and Ade Wahab echoed the fact that the statue does not look like Abiola. “We have observed this one the day it was commissioned.”

Segun Iwalokun said the accuracy was not there, compared with the real person. “This is just an impression. So, to me it is still okay.”

Gbenga Oyedepo believes the former statue looked more like him than this one.

For Kolawole Okunade, “It does not really matter. We have got nothing to do with this one.”

Ayo Ogunwale stated: “Though it resembles him a bit, I don’t like the colour they used in painting. The former one was better.”

Yusuf Alhassan said from afar, one might never know that it is Abiola until when one moves closer. “The face and the cap do not match,” he said.

Olanrewaju Alani believes that the teeth and the ears do not resemble that of Abiola.

For Mr. Bright Iwu: “From afar, you might be having an opinion of another person but on a closer look, you can now see that it resembles him. I overheard someone saying that it does not look like him. People should know that the children, some of whom were at the commissioning would have said a similar thing if it were so. The governor, who awarded the contract, would not have commissioned it if it looks different from what he wants. However, I’m of the opinion that the face and the hands should have been painted with a different colour.”

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.