If you want Nigerians to forgive your iniquities and celebrate you, just die. That’s why Sani Abacha, whose unprecedented theft of Nigeria’s national treasury, is being rehabilitated through the backdoor by dishonest revisionists.
Abubakar Malami, Nigeria’s perpetually narcotized Attorney General and Minister of Justice, described recently recovered Abacha loot as “Abacha’s assets,” implying that Abacha didn’t steal the recovered money but saved it for Nigeria for a rainy day. Although he retracted his statement in the aftermath of withering social media pushback, his agenda was unmistakable: he wanted to follow in Buhari’s lead and declare that, in spite of glaring evidence to the contrary, Abacha didn’t steal.
Now, there’s a cottage industry of vile revisionists in the north promoting the transparently fraudulent narrative that Abacha saved money for Nigeria in foreign banks which his detractors have decided to call “loot”! Can you believe that? People, mostly young northerners who were not of age when Abacha’s evil regime reigned, have even sent me private messages asking me to help stop the demonization of Abacha.
For those who are too young to know, Abacha stole Nigeria’s patrimony like no one in the history of Nigeria. He did NOT save money for Nigeria; he STOLE it with conscienceless glee. It’s distressing that one has to even say this in spite of the clear evidence staring us in the face.
I recall a conversation I had with my friend Aliyu Ma’aji (who is now Ma’ajin Zazzau) when we were undergraduates at BUK in 1994. We were walking a long distance and holding buckets in search of elusive water because there had been no electricity for weeks in Nigeria. Vehicular movements had basically stopped, and people were forced to trek long distances because there was no petrol anywhere.
In the midst of the severe deprivation and sense of existential siege we were undergoing, I said, “Aliyu, do you know that a time might come in the future when Nigerians would celebrate and sentimentalize Abacha as one of the best heads of state we’ve ever had?” Aliyu lost it. “Wallahi tallahi, if any bastard ever says a single good thing about Abacha in my presence, I’d beat the living daylights out of him!”
I wonder what Aliyu feels about all the posthumous rehabilitative narratives of Abacha who literally made life a menacing torment for people in the 1990s, who stole the nation blind, whose son used presidential jets like kabu-kabu and died in one, who murdered innocent people like chickens, who repressed the nation with Hitlerite malignancy.
When Buhari says history will be kind to him, he is banking on the legendary amnesia of Nigerians and their predilection to rehabilitate and deodorize dead political elites even if they were evil or dreadfully inept.