“Abacha was a Chadian,” a friend claimed. “Ha-aaaahn!na lie! I replied”. But to substantiate my disapproval, I had to go online to confirm(as Allah advises us in Q 49:6 to substantiate all rumours before making any stand so as not to become regretful). Even trying to perhaps believe, at least they say, all rumour might have an element of truth. I found it extremely difficult to force this down my throat. Abacha who was the defence minister of 1993 3-month interim Government was unofficially said to had overthrown the head (Earnest Shonekan) of the government but officially said to had come into power as the seventh military ruler, because Shonekan who was generally believed to be under Abacha’s thumb resigned –perhaps forced. Abacha was the one subjectively referred to as ‘the man of few words but deadly actions’.On hitting the internet, I found the ‘unbelievable’.Koda! morioriolongbolateeh (in fact! I saw the cat’s head on Shoprite’s cabin).
Derailing the cause of my search, I was dumbfounded with what I saw under his presidency column. I read that, “theAbacha administration was the first to recordunprecedented economic achievements”. According to Wikipedia, “he oversaw an increase in the country's foreignexchange reserves from $494million in 1993 to $9.6billion by the middle of 1997, reduced the externaldebt of Nigeria from $36 billion in 1993 to $27 billionby 1997. “He brought all the controversial privatizationprogrammes of the Babangida administration to halt,reduced an inflation rate of 54% inherited fromIbrahim BadamasiBabangida to 8.5% between 1993and 1998. All these were achieved while the nation's primary commodity,oil was at an average of $15 per barrel. Hisadministration is also credited with creating the mostcomprehensive and realistic blueprint for Nigeria'sdevelopment through his Vision 2010 (a template for the popular vision 2020) committeechaired by his predecessor Ernest Shonekan.
In the southern part of the country, never had I seen anyone that sang well about ‘Mr few words’. For why?!He graciously offended the southerners for arresting MKOAbiola–thebelieved winner of the June 12th 1993election for treason in June 1994 when he proclaimed himself president. This resulted into more escalated strikes that had been erupting even before he came into power - this made life quite unbearable for a number of Nigerians. In my opinion, the ‘odada’ (the inducer) of the MKO imbroglio was General Babangida who annulled the election that proclaimed Abiola as the president on the basis of ‘flimsy’ electoral irregularities. Abacha repressed dissidents who were against his government by imprisonment and even execution – by hanging – such as that of Ken Saro-Wiwa and his fellow (eight) dissidents who were activists and critics of the oil industry that brought environmental ills to theirOgonihomeland in the Niger-Delta. This execution caused international community to shun Nigeria in 1995. He also jailed Obasanjo and Musa Yar’adua, charged Soyinka of treason just to mention a few.
Interestingly, If not for death he would have become an elected civilian president as at August 1998 (when his military administration planned to handover to civilian administration) when all political parties had considered him as the sole candidate for the presidential election. Perhaps he would have ended like Muammar al-Qaddafi of Libya, spending a long period in governance but God showed him He is the one in control despite the fact that he was able to repress all opponents within and outside his camp.
Looking for a clue of how he was able to achieve this, I sourced furtherand found out that he was the only military head-of-state that never skipped a rank to become a General (not Major General which is even lower in rank to General). Hmmnn! “he never skipped ranked.” That,in my opinion, was the secret of his ‘success’. It is believed that he has been instrumental in several coups (including the 1966 countercoup) and was actuallyan elemental part of numbers of administration before his regime either has chief of army staff or minister of defence or secretary of defence. He had gathered a whole lot of experiences that helped him retain power. Unfortunately, he became dictatorial due to power intoxication. It is pertinent to note that his fraud scandal still quite elusive as some of his predecessors including PMB (in 2008) regarded it as baseless. Even the Jonathan administration withdrew the case on the premise that exorbitantly huge amount would be spent on the lawsuit.
In conclusion, the lesson I was able to pick from the history of ‘the man of few words but deadly actions’ was that experience is a sine qua non to maintain high positions. As they say “experience is the best teacher”. Therefore, we should all learn to gain adequate experiences –as it prepares us for greater victories and ordeals ahead– rather than cut corners in our endeavours. However, we should all beware of power-intoxication whenever we are able to repress oppositions so as to forestall Allah’s ‘adverse drama’ (death), like that which He showed ‘the man of deadly actions’. After the adventurous andpleasurable derailment which I almost got lost in, I eventually confirmed that Abacha was not a Chadian, although, originally a Kanuri from Borno (close to Chad anyway) but born and brought up in Kano where he made his home.