Hafsat Abiola

Hafsat Olaronke Abiola-Costello (born 21 August 1974) in Lagos, is a Nigerian human rights, civil rights and democracy activist, founder of the Kudirat Initiative for Democracy (KIND), which seeks to strengthen civil society and promote democracy in Nigeria.[1] She is President of Women In Africa Initiative (WIA), international platform for the economic development and support of African women entrepreneurs.[2][3] She is also one of the founders of Connected Women Leaders (CWL).[4]

Hafsat Abiola
Hafsat Abiola (2).jpg
Hafsat Olaronke Abiola

(1974-08-21) 21 August 1974 (age 48)
Lagos, Nigeria
Alma materHarvard University
Tsinghua University
SpouseNicholas Costello m.2005

Early life and educationEdit

Abiola-Costello is the eighth child of Nigeria's uninaugurated president-elect, the late Chief Moshood Abiola and late Kudirat Abiola. Her father, Moshood Abiola, was put in prison by the dictator Gen. Sani Abacha for treason after declaring himself president. The elder Abiola later died while in detention in 1998.[5] While her mother was murdered[6] during a demonstration for the release of her husband in 1996.[7][8] In June 2018, President Muhammadu Buhari bestowed the title of Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR) on her father, late Chief Moshood Abiola, the supposed winner of the presidential election on June 12, 1993.[9][10]

Abiola-Costello studied at Queens College, Yaba, Lagos and then Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts [11] where she graduated in 1992. She then studied for degree in Development Economics receiving a degree from Harvard College in 1996, and later earned her M.Sc. in International Development from Tsinghua University, Beijing.[12][13]


Kudirat Initiative for Democracy (KIND)Edit

In honour of her mother's death, she founded KIND in 1997 with the aim of promoting the development of women as initiators of change through leadership and awareness programs. She is currently board president.[14][12]

KIND is among the major organization that demanded for the reconsideration of the gender bill rejected by National Assembly of Nigeria (NASS).[15] A bill seeking the amendment of the section 26 (2a) of the Nigerian 1999 constitution; if passed, foreigners married to Nigerian women will be able to apply for Nigerian citizenship. The bill is also pushing for at least 35% of political party and appointive positions at the federal and state levels be filled by women, as well as many other issues related to women's rights.[16]

Later worksEdit

In 2009, Abiola-Costello founded 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.[17]

In 2006 she raised funds by organising performances of The Vagina Monologues in Nigeria.[18][19]

Since May 2008, she is also a Councillor at the World Future Council among 49 other well known personalities.[20]

Abiola-Costello is an advisory council member at the Fetzer Institute as well as the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.

In July 2011, she was appointed the Special Adviser to the Governor of Ogun State with responsibility for achieving the Millennium Development Goals.[12]

In 2016, she was re-appointed Special Adviser to Governor Ibikunle Amosun in Ogun State[21]

Personal lifeEdit

In 2001 she married British economist and diplomat Nicholas Costello.[22] They have 2 children, Khalil and Anabella.[23][24][25]

Awards and recognitionEdit

In 2000, Abiola was honoured as a Global Leader of Tomorrow at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.[26] 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.[27] In 2006 she was nominated to be a founding councillor at the World Future Council[28][29]

A 2014 documentary, "The Supreme Price" details the story of Hafsat Abiola and how both her parents paid a terrible cost in their quest for a better, freer Nigeria. It was directed by Joanna Lipper, a lecturer at Harvard University, who tells the story from Hafsat's perspective. The documentary also includes interviews with Walter Carrington, former U.S. ambassador to Nigeria, and Nobel Prize-winning writer Wole Soyinka.[30][31]

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.[32]

Hafsat Abiola, Willem Dafoe and Bianca Jagger at the Dropping Knowledge project's Table of Free Voices in Berlin, September 2006

Some of her other awards and recognitions include:

  • Youth Peace and Justice Award of the Cambridge Peace Commission, 1997[33]
  • State of the World Forum Changemaker Award, 1998
  • Woman to Watch for Award, 1999
  • Global Leader of Tomorrow Award, World Economic Forum, 2000[34]
  • Nuclear Age Peace Foundation Global Award, 2001
  • Seeking Common Ground Award, 2007
  • Andover Alumni Award of Distinction, 2013[35]
  • Goi Peace Award, 2016[36]
  • Foreign Policy Diplomat of the Year Award, 2016[37]
  • National Civil Rights Museum’s Freedom Award, 2019[38]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "KIND". KIND. Retrieved 2022-09-03.
  2. ^ "Hafsat Abiola is the President of Women In Africa – WIA Initiative". Retrieved 2022-09-03.
  3. ^ "WIA Set to Mitigate Failure of African Women Led Businesses – THISDAYLIVE". www.thisdaylive.com. Retrieved 2022-10-15.
  4. ^ "Speaker Details | The New York Times Climate Hub". climatehub.nytimes.com. Retrieved 2022-09-04.
  5. ^ "CNN - Nigerian opposition leader Abiola dies - July 7, 1998". edition.cnn.com. Retrieved 2022-04-16.
  6. ^ Driscoll, Margarette. "They shot my mother. She fights on through me". ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 2022-09-04.
  7. ^ The Brutal Assassination of Kudirat Abiola, NAIJArchives, Retrieved 8 February 2016
  8. ^ Chideya, Farai (1998-06-22). "Nigeria's Orphan". Time. ISSN 0040-781X. Retrieved 2022-10-16.
  9. ^ "Buhari declares June 12 Democracy Day, honours Abiola with GCFR". Punch Newspapers. 2018-06-07. Retrieved 2022-03-25.
  10. ^ "Buhari formally confers GCFR on Abiola". Vanguard News. 2018-06-12. Retrieved 2022-04-16.
  11. ^ "Hafsat Abiola '92". Andover | An independent and inclusive coed boarding high school. Retrieved 2022-10-15.
  12. ^ a b c "Our Board". KIND. Retrieved 2021-06-08.
  13. ^ "Hafsat Abiola-Costello". Varkey Foundation. Retrieved 2022-10-15.
  14. ^ Edozien, Glory (2013-03-08). "Glory Edozien presents the Inspire Women Series: Hafsat Abiola Costello". BellaNaija. Retrieved 2021-06-08.
  15. ^ "Women statement on the rejection of gender bills by NASS". Businessday NG. 2022-03-05. Retrieved 2022-03-25.
  16. ^ "UPDATED: Gender Bills: Reps make U-turn on three bills, to conduct new voting". 2022-03-08. Retrieved 2022-03-25.
  17. ^ Abiola, Hafsat. "Africa, China and Women" Archived 2012-07-09 at archive.today for Economica: Women and the Global Economy. October 2009. Retrieved March 22, 2010.
  18. ^ Allure : Hasfat's new war, Vanguard, Feb 19, 2006
  19. ^ KIND brings back Vagina Monologues to Nigeria, Business Day, Feb 22, 2007
  20. ^ "Councillors". World Future Council. Retrieved 2022-04-16.
  21. ^ "Hafsat Abiola-Costello Re-appointed As Special Adviser To Ogun State Governor". Woman.NG. 2016-02-17. Retrieved 2022-04-16.
  22. ^ "Nicholas Costello | EVPA". www.evpa.ngo. Retrieved 2022-10-15.
  23. ^ "Nicholas Costello". www.myheritage.com. Retrieved 2021-06-08.
  24. ^ Pamela Zuber (2015-06-02). "Writing clip_PZ_Abiola-Costello". {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  25. ^ Driscoll, Margarette. "They shot my mother. She fights on through me". ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 2022-10-15.
  26. ^ "Hafsat Abiola-Castello bags EU honours". The Sun Nigeria. 2019-03-02. Retrieved 2022-04-16.
  27. ^ "Hafsat Abiola | Ashoka | Everyone a Changemaker". www.ashoka.org (in Turkish). Retrieved 2022-04-16.
  28. ^ "Councillors". World Future Council. Retrieved 2022-04-16.
  29. ^ "Hafsat Abiola - Agenda Contributor". World Economic Forum. Retrieved 2022-10-15.
  30. ^ "Review: 'Supreme Price' tallies the cost of seeking change in Nigeria". Los Angeles Times. 2014-10-03. Retrieved 2021-06-08.
  31. ^ "New film relays Kudirat Abiola's struggle". Latest Nigeria News, Nigerian Newspapers, Politics. 2014-05-26. Retrieved 2021-06-08.
  32. ^ 17 women changing the world, Jan 2015, InclusiveSecurity, Retrieved 8 February 2016
  34. ^ "Hafsat Abiola". The Rockefeller Foundation. Retrieved 2022-10-15.
  35. ^ "Andover Alumni Award of Distinction". Andover | An independent and inclusive coed boarding high school. Retrieved 2022-10-15.
  36. ^ "2016 Goi Peace Award Laureate | The Goi Peace Foundation". www.goipeace.or.jp. 2016-08-01. Retrieved 2022-10-15.
  37. ^ Staff, F. P. "Watch FP's Diplomat of the Year Awards". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 2022-10-15.
  38. ^ BlackPressUSA/NNPA (2019-10-06). "Nigerian Activist Hafsat Abiola Selected as Honoree for National Civil Rights Museum's Prestigious Freedom Award". AFRO American Newspapers. Retrieved 2022-10-15.
  39. ^ Chideya, Farai (1998-06-22). "Nigeria's Orphan". Time. ISSN 0040-781X. Retrieved 2022-10-16.

External linksEdit