Yesterday, I read Sadiq Abacha’s letter to Wole Soyinka. My immediate gut reaction was to immediately mark down the article as one of many crazed and delusional Fani Femi Kayode articles that deserved no attention. But as I read that article I began to realize that it contained some interesting claims about Abacha that is rarely talked about in Anti-Abacha circles.
ALSO ON THE TRENT: Sadiq Abacha’s Open Letter To Wole Soyinka (READ)
So I decided, rather than dismissing the article or writing yet another open letter, what about breaking it down and fact checking the claims. So that is what I did….
I broke down Sadiq’s letter and researched his claims written in bold font below. My goal was to be as objective as possible, without showing any bias. In this analysis I state my research source and put links to all the articles and documents I referenced. My goal with this was to write something different from the usual Abacha insult filled articles…I just wanted to write the facts…so here goes…
Sadiq Abacha: What about the advances we made in commerce, reducing the inflation rate, what about security and welfare, how many projects, hospitals and schools were created? Inflation went from 54% to 8.5%!
This is a fact, under Abacha, Nigeria’s inflation rate dropped from about 50% to 7.5% reference https://www.indexmundi.com/nigeria/inflation_rate_(consumer_prices).html
However inflation is not the best representation of a nations economy and can easily be manipulated by governments restricting currency flow. At the end, the low inflation rate looks good on paper, but does little for the Nigeria people. For instance the inflation rate between 2000 and 2010 has been relatively low, but the same cannot be said about our unemployment rate which is extremely high despite the low inflation rates. But the original claim by Sadiq is still a fact!
My father oversaw an increase in our foreign currency reserves from 494 million dollars in 1993 to 9.6 billion dollars by the middle of 1997, that is unprecedented…
Again this is a fact but this fact is being used as a distraction point…I will explain, under Abacha the foreign currency reserves per www.iiste.org/Journals/index.php/EJBM/article/download/709/608 were indeed increased to 9.6 billion in 1998.
But as he was reserving foreign money in the CBN he was also reserving money for himself to the tune of $4.3 billion…per https://bit.ly/1lzJV0n
“The Nigerian government has formally asked Britain to freeze the bank accounts of the late military dictator General Sani Abacha who is alleged to have stolen $4.3bn during his five years in office from 1993….Nigeria estimates that of the $4.3bn, some $2.3bn was taken from the central bank, $1bn was awarded for contracts to front companies, and a further $1bn was extorted from foreign companies, some of them in Britain.”
So Abacha might have saved money but he also stole money…lots of it.
What of peace keeping and nation building, not just in West Africa but the entire continent, restoring democracy in Liberia and Sierra Leone, all these under my father’s leadership, are all these not laudable?
Restoring democracy in Liberia: Technically true, Abacha headed the Abuja Accord that ushered in the 1997 Election in Liberia. Per this Baltimore Sun article https://bit.ly/1q8F5I5
“GEN. SANI ABACHA, Nigeria’s military strongman, is credited with having the moral leadership that imposed an agreement (The August 1996 Abuja Accord) by DTC Liberia’s brutal warlords to disarm and hold elections.”
But the whole restoring democracy to Liberia is just technically true…here’s why…the resulting election from the Abuja Accord in 1997 was a Kangaroo election mired with intimidation and cheating. And ended up with the election of human rights abuser Charles Taylor as President. In addition to that…
“The peace did not last long, and in 1999 the Second Liberian Civil War broke out.”
So did Abacha restore democracy to Liberia, yes but it was a Mugabe style democracy that plunged Liberia into more despair and yet another war. Liberia did not fully regain Democracy will Charles Taylor was exiled in 2003.
So what about Sierra Leone: This one is totally false. Yes Abacha sent Nigerians troops via ECOMOG to fight the RUF rebels, but their impact was minimal because the ECOMOG forces were deemed weak and unprepared. No democracy was established in Sierra Leone while Abacha was alive. In fact the Sierra Leone civil war ended in 2001, three years after Abacha death.
All this on 8$ per barrel of oil! You have to be kidding me.
Actually Sadiq is the one kidding us here. This is quite false. The average price of crude oil during Abacha’s term (1993 to 1998) was $17.00. However, in December of 1998 the year Abacha died, the price of crude oil dropped to as low as $8.64. But by December 1998, Abacha was already dead!
You say, with the weight of your sense of history and the authority you possess on national issues that ” a vicious usurper under whose authority the lives of an elected president and his wife were snuffed out” referring to my late father, you must be growing old, or you would rightly recall that that president elect you refer to did not die while my father was alive.
He has a point, Abiola died under suspicious circumstances shortly after the death of General Abacha.
Moshood Abiola died on the day that he was due to be released, on July 7, 1998 via wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MKO_Abiola
However, this is like the lung cancer quiz…
If a smoker dies of lung cancer, is it the smoke that killed him or the cancer? You see the fact is that Abiola will still be alive today if he was not imprisoned by Abacha for 4 years. So yes Abiola may have suffered from heart attack (the cancer), but it was as a result of 4 years of unjust imprisonment (the smoking) by Abacha that killed him. #fact
You see at the end of the day, the issue with Abacha was not high inflation rates but rather high unemployment rates, it was not whether or not he established or fought for democracies in other countries but rather whether he upheld democracy in his own country, Nigeria. It was not whether or not he tripled our foreign reserves, but rather whether or not he reserved some of Nigeria’s billions for himself.
But the real issue, was his treatment and suffocation of freedom. Freedom of speech, freedom of life, freedom of everything. The way he silenced and killed his enemies and in-case we have forgotten…here is a summary of SOME of the many atrocities of Abacha…
June 11, 1994: Chief M.K.O Abiola declares himself president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on the eve of the first anniversary of June 12 in an attempt to claim his June 12, 1993 presidential mandate at Epetedo, Lagos Island. He goes into hiding after the declaration, for fear of being arrested.
31June 23, 1994: The Federal Military Government arrests Chief M.K.O Abiola on charges of treason.
August 18, 1994: The crackdown finally begins: the Abacha government responds to the workers’ strike by sacking the Executive Council of NUPENG and PENGASSAN, and NLC, closes down three newspapers: the Punch, Concord group (owned by Abiola) and The Guardian. It announces a partial lifting of the ban on politics, allowing individuals to ‘canvass political ideas’ but not to ‘form political parties for now’.
October 1, 1994: Federal Government arrests and detains Chief Gani Fawehinmi for launching a political party, the National Conscience Party, in Lagos.
October 31, 1995: A Special Military Court sentences Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni activists to death.
Okechukwu Ofili is an author, speaker, and blogger and a The Trent Elite Voice. Follow him on twitter, Facebook or subscribe to his blog for more honest talk and as @ofilispeaks on instagram for more sketches! To bring Ofili to your school or organization as a speaker simply go here. His third book How Intelligence Kills will be coming out in December of 2013 pre-order here https://bit.ly/intelligencekills
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.