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October 26, 1998

Nigerian human rights activist to speak at UCSC

By Jennifer McNulty

Hafsat Abiola, the daughter of late Nigerian president-elect Moshood Abiola, will discuss the struggle for democracy in her homeland and the relationship of Nigeria's military leaders with multinational corporations on Monday, November 2, at 7:30 p.m. in the Kresge Town Hall. The event is free and open to the public.

Only 23 years old, Abiola has become a leading figure in her country's struggle for human rights. Her father was elected president of Nigeria in 1992 with 58 percent of the vote, but the ruling military council annulled the election results and jailed him. Her mother, Kudirat Abiola, mobilized grassroots, student, and women's groups in protest of the imprisonment but was assassinated on the street in 1996, apparently by military agents, at the age of 44. Soon after Abiola's father was released from prison earlier this year, he died of unknown causes.

Abiola will share the story of her fight against authoritarianism and multinational corporations in her homeland. She will discuss current environmental problems, human rights violations, and the status of women in Nigeria linked to the authoritarianism of Nigeria's military and its support of multinational corporations--especially oil companies. And she will address the response of the international community, particularly the United States and U.S. nongovernmental organizations, to the situation in Nigeria.

Abiola is the director of the Kudirat Institute for Nigerian Democracy (KIND), a pro-democracy group that is working to restore democracy to Nigeria and is considered one of the best speakers on the present Nigerian crisis. She holds a degree in political economy from Harvard University, and she draws on personal experiences and anecdotes to convey her message.

Abiola's appearance is being sponsored by the UCSC Women's Center. For more information, call (831) 459-2291.

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