Hafsat Abiola-Costello to be honoured with 2016 Goi Peace Award

In celebration of her work fostering democracy and women’s leadership and equality in Nigeria, The Goi Peace Foundation will present the 2016 Goi Peace Award to Hafsat Abiola-Costello.

According to a statement by the selection committee, Hafsat Abiola-Costello was chosen for the Goi Peace Award in recognition of her unwavering commitment to advance women’s rights and leadership in Africa.

The statement read: ”Through her visionary leadership and activism, she has been paving the way for true democracy, in which all individuals can realize their full potential and contribute to the betterment of society. Her work has inspired not only women in her country, but many people around the world who are striving for a more just and harmonious world.

She will receive the award at a ceremony during the Goi Peace Foundation Forum 2016, to be held at Nikkei Hall in Tokyo on November 29, 2016. Previous Goi Peace Award recipients include Ervin Laszlo, Oscar Arias, Bill Gates, Deepak Chopra, and Lynne Twist.

Hafsat Abiola, daughter of late MKO and Kudirat Abiola is a Nigerian human rights, civil rights and democracy activist. She is founder, of the Kudirat Initiative for Democracy (KIND) which has since inception continued to strengthen civil society and promote democracy in Nigeria.

As a not-for-profit organization based in Lagos, Nigeria, KIND works primarily in areas of leadership development for young women and on collaborative projects aimed at removing barriers to women’s public participation and ending violence against women.

Hafsat Olaronke Abiola is the eighth child of Nigeria’s uninaugurated (June 12, 1993) president elect, the late Chief Moshood Abiola who was put in prison by the dictator Gen. Sani Abacha for treason after declaring himself president. The elder Abiola later died under detention in 1998. Hafsat’s mother, Alhaja Kudirat Abiola killed in 1996, was murdered during a demonstration for the release of her husband in 1996.

On the twentieth anniversary of the death of her mother, Kudirat Abiola earlier this year, Hafsat penned down an emotional message to mark her mother’s demise.

She said, ”A young woman, not quite 44 years old, Kudirat was different things to different people. She was a loving mother to her seven children, the youngest of whom was seven at the time of her death. She was also a dutiful wife and a principled Nigerian who believed that an electoral mandate given to her husband during the June 12, 1993, democratic election could not simply be set aside on the whims of a small band of men, whether they were armed or not.

I continue to draw strength and inspiration from her clear example in a country where, for most people, everything is negotiable. From her, I learned that it is better to stand with the truth even if it is to stand alone.

It has taken so long for the tree of democracy that she and other women sacrificed so much to plant to show the promise that motivated them to take a stand. Yet, even now, it is still glaring in its failure to include women in elective positions. In this one thing, we reveal a flaw in how we understand and practice democracy. For if power were understood as primarily a tool to be used to serve all people, women would be encouraged to play their part.

”The absence of women reveals the fact that the current wind of change has not altered the fundamental perception of power as an instrument, not of service but of domination. Unfortunately, when used in this way, everyone loses as the cycle of divide and misrule that Nigeria has witnessed time and again will simply continue producing poverty, conflict and misery.”

”As we reflect on the fact that the National Assembly has only six percent women (6%), we need to be aware that Africa’s largest economy lags behind all but one other African country on this and gives us a ranking of 177 out of 193 countries.”

”Let us remember that when Chief Abiola was in detention when many pro-democracy leaders had fled the country to continue the battle against military dictatorship, Kudirat Abiola and others kept the flag flying at home. She led the marches. She sold her properties to support her husband’s household and to finance the movement. She gave interviews on national and international media channels. She was incarcerated and frequently threatened but remained undaunted. And ultimately she was gunned down on the streets of Lagos, Nigeria.”

”I remember her today as I do every day and pray for the continued peaceful repose of her soul. But on this day, 20 years on, I want to ask our leaders to be fair to the Nigerian women. No bird, no matter how strong, can fly with one wing. No country, no matter its potential, can thrive while keeping its women back.”

”Most local government councils will hold elections this year and next, nation-wide. This time, parties should put in place mechanisms to ensure 30% women representation at the local administration level. The local government is a good level to begin fostering gender equity since it has purview over primary health care as well as primary education, issues of particular concern to women.”

”This democracy came at a price, which women and men paid, and should be made to work for everyone. It will work better when women are allowed to play their part.”
Abiola graduated from Phillips Academy, Andover in 1992 and Harvard College in 1996. She received an honorary doctorate  from Haverford College.

Abiola is the founder of China-Africa Bridge and China Africa Forum, which promotes mutually beneficial cross-cultural collaboration between China and Africa, with a specific eye on women’s contributions to the economy.

In 2000, Abiola was honored as a Global Leader of Tomorrow  at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. In 2003, she was elected as a Fellow of the Ashoka: Innovators for the Public  in recognition of her international status as a social entrepreneur. In 2006 she was nominated to be a founding councilor at the World Future Council.

In 2006 she raised funds by organizing performances of  The Vagina Monologues in Nigeria. Since May 2008 she is also a Councilor at the World Future Council among 49 other well known personalities.

In 2008, the Europe-based A Different View chose Abiola to be one of the 15 Champions of World Democracy. Other champions include Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Corazon Aquino and Sima Samar. She is an advisory council member at the Fetzer Institute as well as the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.

In 2015, she was chosen to be one of 21 women who met for a conference at Harvard University Kennedy School of Government funded by Hunt Alternatives. The group included Judy Thongori from Kenya, Fauzia Nasreen from Pakistan and Olufunke Baruwa, Esther Ibanga and Ayisha Osori also from Nigeria.



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1 Response

  1. queen says:

    I love this woman. Congratulations. It shows that hard work is rewarded.

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