Wednesday, September 23, 2009

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.

Muhammad Abacha poster
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 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.

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.

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

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Anonymous said...

i wouldn't bet my grand dad's non existent teeth that it won't happen...and come to think of it, there are no constitutional impediments to the chap contesting anyways....

Unknown said...

Hmmm. No one can predict the outcomes. Lets just hope if he make it through. History wont repeat itself.

rethots said...

...off to read the link but, before that, why do i think (or feel i shall have a contrary view?)

Anonymous said...

SSD, reading this just ticks me off! I got this quote from one of the links:

"My father was not the first person to be the president, and he will never be the last," Abacha said. "The present one has children, some a little older than me and some my age. Opportunities abound. I'm sure they are making use of it."

This is the mentality of somebody who wants to run for governor? And shouldn't he be precluded from the race because of his criminal record? On what platform could this guy be running apart from self-enrichment?

Really i feel like no offspring of Abacha (if they have any self-respect) should even contemplate involvement in any sort of public office unless they can show a different track record from their father. Muhammad definitely cannot. I was only a teenager when Abacha died but i clearly remember the horrific stories mentioning his son's name in connection with the torture of political prisoners. I guess they couldn't prove those allegations. But as they say, there's no smoke without fire. As far as i am concerned, we should not be forgiving or overlooking anything. Failing to remember these things is why history repeats itself.

I pray he does not make it but unfortunately the other candidate doesn't sound more promising.

Olamild said...


This is really difficult to respond to. His running might be with good intentions but he will enter obstacles because of his father's sins. I don't know if the nation has a forgiving spirit up to the extent of forgiving Abacha's deeds.

In my honest opinion, I don't think he will win. He can take a shot and it might seem rosy but he won't win.

Olamild said...

I meant (he will encounter obstacles because of his father's sins).

Anonymous said...

Actually there is an impediment enshrined in the current constitution of Nigeria. He is an ex convict and this automatically dis qualifies him from contesting for the office of a State Governor in Nigeria! Though in Nigeria, I dare hasten to add that anything is possible. Chikena!

Spesh said...

ma problem with this story is the fact that it is going 2b sold 2 him by all means..........

Artsville said...

I was going to ask? Isnt he an ex-convict but someone has said that already. he is digging his own grave, It's better for the entire Abacha family, both nuclear and extended to just lie low and spend their ill gotten wealth. Why would he want to draw attention to the family?

Anonymous said...

That country amazes me sometimes

Dojaa said...

If Sani Abacha rises from the dead, contests for the presidency and wins by a landslide victory margin like has never been seen in the world I still would not be amazed....Nigeria is a land of all possibilities!

Admin said...

first time here,we dont need abacha's again

sokari said...

Why are convicted criminals allowed to run for public office?

This is not the sort of person we need in government office in Nigeria. Full Stop!

Seyi said...

I want to believe he's an "ex-convict". However, it will not be the first time an "ex-convict" will be elected into a political office. The James Iboris and Late Ewan, oh sorry "Evans" Enwerem comes to mind.

io said...

exconvict? but he was cleared of the charges.

lets watch and see the people of kano troop to the streets in support. then one after the other, the other candidates would misteriously drop out and support his bid 10000%. its the theatre of the absurb and the home of the unexplainables after all.

STAN said...

Of course he can run, there is no law against that. and no one should judge him based on the antecedents of his late father. But we can and must judge his own past. The embezzlements, the murder charge etc. Those are serious and he should be thoroughly scrutinized. No soft balls. We can't afford another Abacha size monster.

Anonymous said...

He is not an 'ex-convict'. He was cleared of all charges and acquitted. Besides, how long does it take President UMYA to grant him 'amnesty'?

He is just a decoy. A foil to Governor Shekarau's rising profile within the ANPP and his now-not-so-secret intention to contest the 2011 presidential elections against UMYAwn.

They have taken care of Shinkafi of Zamfara and taken good care of Yuguda. Shekarau is a problem but Mohammed Abacha as solution?

Abacha is the PDP's response to Shekarau's gambit. It should tell you more about our ruling party's choices/chances in Kano.

In a state that has Murtala Mohammed's children and is reputed to be the most cosmopolitan state in the North, Mohammed Abacha is the best they can do.


Muse said...

can he run?: why not?

should he run?: if he believes he can pull it off.

if being one's offspring is a determining factor, then we might as well have no former leader's offspring run for political office, because Nigeria has had a case of despicable leaders!

The younger Abacha should be judged on his own merits, no matter how much we might want to exhume and hang his father!

Muse said...

can he run?: why not?

should he run?: if he believes he can pull it off.

if being one's offspring is a determining factor, then we might as well have no former leader's offspring run for political office, because Nigeria has had a case of despicable leaders!

The younger Abacha should be judged on his own merits, no matter how much we might want to exhume and hang his father!

Hana Njau-Okolo said...

So he wants to use his father's money to bribe people...it seems folks have short memories, esp. when money is put in front of them.

Sugabelly said...

Has he no shame?

He shouldn't dare!

Unknown said...

Forget the sins of his father, let us look at his own sins...He knew something about the death of Kudirat Abiola, Yes, he was not found guilty but is it possible for his name to have been mentioned without him knowing something about it? Come on people, these people "Abachas" terrorizes nigerians and they did not keep a low profile. How about the conspiracy that he ordered his own brother's death? or has anyone forgotten the Plane crash of Maryam Abacha's first son????? This guy is evilllllll Period and lets assume he is a changed man, i do not think running for a public office is the way to go by it. If i were him, i will do some good works, charity etc spend the ill gotten wealth on some citizens that needs it and live a simple life. For him to have the intention to run for any office at all shows he is till his father's son!!!!
PS: I know IBB was not any better than Abacha but honestly, i do not remember hearing any of IBB's kids involved in murder of any sort sooo

TheAfroBeat said...

We never learn...As much as Nigerians love to forget, i am not too worried about him making it through, it might take a huge slap in the face (like him making the nomination for presidential candidate) to wake us up, but when we do wake up, we'll eventually do something about it. I have to once again point out the Ghanian example of killing off their useless presidents, so that this kind of stupidity and bravado never becomes an issue. If Abacha had been taken care of the way he ought to have, his children wouldn't dare open their mouths in public to utter anything regarding governance, but ah, such is life.

How's you my dear?

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Hell NAW!!!!How can anyone in this family raise their head in public talkess of running for governorship?"I cant believe people are saying what is there if he run?"..This guy was involved in his wicked father's atrocities.How dare he insult the Nigerian people like this..What i fear is that he will win...It is 9ja and we know how things operate in that country.THERE IS A GOD!!!Father lord take control!I am speechless

Beauty said...

"Farida Waziri has called for a psychiatric evaluation of aspirants seeking election into public offices" but of course, only in Nigeria. If OBJ could seek a 3rd term why not convicted criminals? After all, how does he differ from those in the current administration?

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