One of the great deficiencies of being human is the fact that we forget things. Consequently, the field of history gained a foothold in human existence. But, despite spoken and written history, there are those who have decided to re-write the past particularly in the case of the late Nigerian dictator, Sani Abacha, such as Presidential hopeful, General Buhari, former military dictator, Ibrahim Babangida and former interim government head, Abdulsalami Abubakar. But, Abacha's own son might be doing the best at rewriting the history of Sani Abacha and its role in the decay Nigeria currently struggles with.
According to the BBC, Sani Abacha's son, Muhammad Abacha is "considering running for the governorship of Kano state." If he does run in 2011, he would run under the umbrella of President Yar'Adua's ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which is struggling to gain control of Kano state. Following the tradition of politicians during religious holidays, Muhammad paid for and presented posters, wishing the people of Kano a happy Eid in celebration of the end of the recently celebrated Ramadan holy period. He also previously declared that there was pressure on him to run in Kano.
MUHAMMAD'S PAST WITH THE LAW
Muhammad Abacha spent three years in jail for embezzlement and was cleared of murder charges over allegations that he ordered the assassination of MKO Abiola's wife. His father, Sani Abacha, is credited with the looting of $505.5 million in Nigeria's funds. That money was deposited in Swiss accounts and banks across the globe, with the possibility that more money is yet to be retrieved.
THE SINS OF THE FATHER...
Although a son should not necessarily pay for the sins of his father, wouldn't the sheer magnitude of a father's sins automatically disqualify a son who benefited, grandly, from those sins? Muhammad Abacha could be absolutely nothing like his father, but, the younger Abacha freely confessed that he took advantage of the "opportunities" that came with being the son of Nigeria's most ruthless military dictator. While this alone does not prove that Muhammad Abacha participated in any corrupt activities, the fact that his bank accounts in "Switzerland, Britain, Luxembourg and Liechtenstein, among other places, were frozen after the Nigerian government claimed that his father looted the country" lends credibility to the argument that the opportunities he took advantage of were illegal.
Muhammad Abacha's very proclamation that he is interested in politics presents some serious issues for Nigerians and others to consider. As noted above, the sins of a father should not necessarily become those of a son, however, as equally noted, this son benefited from those sins to the detriment of average Nigerians deprived of the very looted funds that should have gone to improving living conditions. Furthermore, that he could publicly state his intentions suggests that he believes he can actually win the seat he seeks. After all, politicians (and those interested in politics) typically don't utter their intentions without great though, and information as to the odds. Assuming that his team/supporters believe that he has good odds, that is quite disappointing because Muhammad should be disqualified from thinking of politics by association with his father, the many millions that were seized from him and of course his 3 year stint in jail on corruption charges. What is to preclude an individual who did time for embezzlement and who took advantage of his father's illegal tenure and illicit activities, to repeat those characteristics once in office? The fact that he can boldly declare his intentions signifies the memory deficiencies of human beings. And, also illustrates that money can transform many a story and the key characters of that story.
THE 2011 CONTEST FOR CONTROL OF KANO
If Muhammad Abacha chooses to run, it will be up to the people of Kano to determine his fate. After all, if he presents a platform that is pleasing to the people, and campaigns competitively against the incumbent, his incredible wealth could help him win the office of governor. Apparently, when Muhammad was cleared of murder charges in 2002, there were those who took to the street in jubilation, so he just might have a very good chance at the governor's office. Kano's indigenes have previously made local election history by re-electing a governor, Ibrahim Shekarau in 2003 and 2007. Shekarau is a member of the All Nigeria People Party (ANPP) and was supported by Abacha supporter Buhari and former Vice-President Atiku (who has been named as a key player in the corruption scandal that fell American Congressman Washington). Shekarau has consistently opposed the polio vaccine, on the basis that it will sterilize Muslim women (some of the unconscionable actions of pharmaceutical companies contributed to the distrust of vaccines, hence, allowing the science behind the polio vaccine to be ignored). And, he has received support from Kano's residents, including some in the state's Igbo community for his 2011 run. Yet, it is still too early to know what other players might decide to jump into the pot when it gets closer to 2011. The field of contenders could be even more interesting.
Clearly, the contest for governor of Kano will indeed be hotly contested, come 2011, if Muhammad Abacha chooses to run. Best of luck to all the possible/actual contenders. But, whether or not he wins, the mere fact that he could announce a run and indeed do so calls in question the collective memory of a nation. Or, maybe, his running would reflect the ability to forgive and overlook certain things. What do you think?
From the Archives:
- Rewriting Abacha's History
- Suppression In A Democratic Regime
- Turning Away from Democracy