Saturday, June 14, 2008

Rewriting History

I would have blogged about this the very day I saw the headlines, but work has kept me offline for a while.

A few days ago, people gathered for prayers to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the passing of the dark-goggled one, Gen. Sani Abacha. While alive, Abacha was recognised by the majority of Nigerians to be a violent kleptomaniac, who was only interested in hanging on to power at all costs, while filling his pockets with as much money as he could grab. It was said that once, the then CBN Governor had the temerity to notify Khalifa (as he was called) that there was no more Naira in the Treasury. Enraged, Khalifa picked up his telephone and ordered more money printed just to satisfy his cravings. I certainly cannot forget the "five fingers on the same leprous hand" which he styled as political parties during his divinely truncated "transition" programme. Or the senseless, spineless, and utterly insulting adverts that the NTA shamelessly aired proclaiming Khalifa to be the "key" to Nigeria's future. Or the even more insulting "who the cap fits" adverts aired by the same organisation. I remember that when Alex Ekwueme was being touted as a Presidential candidate, the man had to quickly come out and denounce his "promoters" and declare his loyalty to Khalifa.

Can anyone forget the "million man march" or the 65 year old "youths" who earnestly asked for Abacha?

Also, Abacha was responsible for innumerable assassinations of those who dared demand the restoration of the June 12 mandate freely handed to MKO Abiola by Nigerians. Most prominent among the victims of this struggle against Abacha were Kudirat Abiola and Pa Alfred Rewane. Other pro-democracy activists of the day were forced to become the bird of Igbo legend who stated that since men had learned to shoot without missing, he had learned to fly without perching.

So, it is the memories of these people and countless unnamed others that the 3 generals attempted to rubbish with their asinine claims that Abacha was, basically, purer than the driven snow. Perhaps the most outrageous of all the claims came from none other than Maradona himself. He stated (probably with an enviable poker face) that Abacha never stole a dime! He stated Abacha was a humble man, and that the two of them were real close, right until the end.

We must then ask Maradona about the billions of dollars of loot which have been returned to Nigeria from Khalifa's various foreign accounts. Were they part of an elaborate hoax to portray Khalifa as a bad man? Were we all engaged in the exercise of giving a dog a bad name in order to hang it? I think not.

No, Maradona cannot pull the wool over my eyes. I remember the day Khalifa passed on to the great beyond. There was widespred jubilation of the kind unseen since the day we won the gold medal in football at the Atlanta Olympics. Bus drivers rejected fares, beer parlour owners rejected money, and from east to west and north to south, there was wild celebration.

I know we have a "tradition" of not speaking ill of the dead, but for heaven's sake, it doesn't mean we must become stupid. I know it is often said that Nigerians suffer from collective amnesia, and that we are either unwilling or unable to keep events in our memory, hence we allow the same rubbish to happen to us over and over again. But on this score, I dare say we might as well have been collectively lobotomised if we allow ourselves to forget the Years of the Locust that Abacha's rule represented.

1 comment:

Koko ewa said...

One can almost argue the point that corruption is in our DNA.

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I love my country, enjoy a cold beer once in a while, rabidly support Arsenal FC, but I don't get Diet Coke...