Remembering General Sani Abacha: 19 Years After His Death
It was on a morning of June 8, 1998. I had hurried off to school which was situated in a military barracks, only to meet a strange sight…A sight of chaos and disorganization, like the biblical ‘sheep without a shepherd’ story. It was very unusual. From the little I gathered, I heard “ABACHA DON DIE”.
Born in 1943, a kanuri from borno state. Abacha was commissioned as an officer in 1963. Abacha had a successful military career at a young age, and was said in some quarters to be the most successful coup plotter in nigeria, participating in all the coups the country experienced. He possibly was a foot soldier in the January 66′ coup.
A chief of army staff, and later minister of defence under the Babangida regime, Abacha was the first nigerian officer to attain the rank of a general without skipping a single rank. The stage was set for Abacha to reach the very top, and he finally seized power from the interim government in 17th November 1993.
General abacha ran a despotic and sadistic government in which human rights were basically non existent. He placed himself above the jurisdiction of the court and could detain whosoever challenged his government. His government perpetuated the worst human rights abuse in nigerian history where people either went on exile or were assassinated. Kudirat abiola, alfred rewane amongst others were gunned down.The worst was when Ogoni playwright ken saro wiwa who fought for the rights of ogoniland was arrested alongside 8 others. Despite international pressure, they were hanged and had their bodies DISSOLVED IN ACID.
The sani abacha regime had some successes of note. The regime robustly supported ECOWAS by supplying Nigerian soldiers for ECOMOG duties to help restore democracy in Liberia and Sierra leone. Nigeria’s foreign reserve greatly increase, and a drop in our debt profile amongst others.
In 1998, Abacha planned on transiting to democratic governance…with all the five political parties endorsing him as their candidate. In June 8th 1998, General abacha suddenly died of cardiac arrest at the Aso rock villa and was buried same day according to Islamic rites. Some parts of nigeria celebrated his demise, and saw it as a huge relief.
General abacha’s regime was one fraught with corruption in which Nigeria was looted dry. His economic prudence was diverting monies to personal accounts. Nigeria has spent over a decade trying to gather and recover these funds known as THE ABACHA LOOT. Aside having a military career, abacha was not known to have any business as at the time of death. But today the abacha’s have a university in Niger republic and other huge properties and untold wealth. General abacha had 7 sons and 3 daughters. He was posthumously awarded by the GEJ government in 2014 during Nigeria’s centenary celebration.