Monday 9 June 2008

Nigeria: Old Dishonest Generals Praise Abacha

Speaking lies of the dead

I can understand the sentiment that one should not speak ill of the dead, probably from the premise that the dead cannot defend themselves when something untoward has been said about them – in some circles it is just good manners.

However, just because one should not speak ill of the dead, it does not confer the opportunity to blatantly lie about the dead in some revisionist poise towards the past.

I am getting worried about how memorial or remembrance events in Nigeria provide a forum for partying, but the speech givers then provide a slant of history that would almost always be too far from the truth to be credible.

In March 2008, a gathering of “elder statesmen” and I use that moniker liberally because there are only a few for the memorial of the elder brother of our current President left us breathless with incredulity as the speakers chose the occasion to castigate each other.

Memorial curses on Abacha

So, this weekend, remembrance prayers were said for General Sani Abacha celebrating – if that could ever be right – 10 years of his death, which occurred marking the culmination of his rule of 5 years in 1998.

I think it is common knowledge that Abacha’s reign was probably the worst ever leader inflicted on Nigeria and basically he was a despot of the most maligned order.

As these occasions go, some ex-leaders were invited to these prayers that included General Muhammadu Buhari and General Ibrahim Babangida – rather than say their prayers and move on, they went to on suggest that General Sani Abacha never looted the national treasury.

Lies, blatant lies

General Babangida had this to say about Abacha as a “courageous, loyal and honest military head of state who stood for the unity and development of the country during his years in government; it is not true that he looted public treasury. I knew who Abacha was because I was close to him”.

Repeating himself to make the point even more clearly, he said, “Abacha was a courageous person who stood firmly in handling the affairs of the country during his regime. There is no doubt, during his administration as head of state, Abacha contributed his best to the nation’s economy which we are still enjoying”.

General Babangida must be suffering the first indications of dementia with the possibility that amnesia has set in because as the news report indicates, he had a different view of Abacha in 2000.

Unfortunately, General Buhari also suggested that the idea that Abacha looted the treasury was baseless, with which he has suddenly lost any credibility he ever had.

The man who took over from Abacha, General Abdulsalami Abubakar who first had the task of cleaning out the Abacha Aegean Stables now contends the Vision 2020 initiative draws inspiration from Abacha’s Vision 2010.

Are these all lies?

I would not propound any further theories about this apart from asking these men, about the following:

The millions returned by ministers in Abacha’s government, this happened under his watch. (BBC).

The return of $500 million by the Swiss banks all related to Abacha, his family and his associates. (

The press briefing in 2005 with the World Bank President, Mr. Paul Wolfowitz and the then Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, on the repatriation of Abacha funds. (The World Bank)

The questions raised by President Olusegun Obasanjo where he opined that the Abacha family cannot have legitimately worked to earn $100 million of disputed funds. (Global Policy Forum)

The way London might have been implicated in the possible transfer of more than $4 billion by the Abacha regime which named 15 London banks. (BBC)

One cannot list the many other sources but these should be authoritative enough to indicate that General Sani Abacha was implicated, involved and instrumental to a number of deals that took money out of Nigeria illegally.

Exterminate this vermin, forthwith

I would suppose the three Generals would contend that General Abacha was keeping all this in trust for Nigeria in high-interest numbered Swiss accounts.

These generals must think Nigerians are fools who have no recollection of the past or of the facts.

It saddens me that we still have this ilk of people able to say things like this and get away with it and it makes me regret that we did not have a Nigerian Jerry Rawlings to rid us of atrocious military generals who have squandered every good thing about Nigeria for their own ends.

Ghana does not have an old Acheampong, Afrifa or Akuffo to revise history with dishonest intent, it is time we did not have a Shagari, Buhari, Babangida, Abubakar or Obasanjo coming out of the woodwork to mess up Nigerian history well after they had messed up Nigeria during their tenures in government, I would spare General Yakubu Gowon.

If these people cannot retire and keep quiet then it is probably time to make them forcibly depart their mortal coils, Nigeria cannot continue to countenance this sort of thing.

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