One of the major debate at present is whether the late dictator Gen Sani Abacha deserves the Centenary Award. In a letter published on Vanguard newspaper, Wole Soyinka lashed out at the government in what he titled “Canonisation of Terror.“"General Sanni Abacha, a vicious usurper under whose authority the lives of an elected president and his wife were snuffed out. Assassinations – including through bombs cynically ascribed to the opposition – became routine. Under that ruler, torture and other forms of barbarism were enthroned as the norm of governance. To round up, nine Nigerian citizens, including the writer and environmentalist Ken Saro-wiwa, were hanged after a trial that was stomach churning even by the most primitive standards of judicial trial, and in defiance of the intervention of world leadership. We are speaking here of a man who placed this nation under siege during an unrelenting reign of terror that is barely different from the current rampage of Boko Haram [a Jihadist group in northern Nigeria]. It is this very psychopath that was recently canonized by the government of Goodluck Jonathan in commemoration of one hundred years of Nigerian trauma.''
"Here I find myself defending my father 15 years after his death because some of you have no one else to pounce on, or rather, you have chosen a dead person to keep pouncing on over and over again when you have more than an array of contestants. A coward’s act I believe. “A common writer” is what I have heard you being referred to lately, and I believe a mature mind would now agree to such referrals. With all due respect, there is a great challenge that faces the country, we have to put our heads together, rather than clashing, our collective ships must sail in the same direction, let us leave the ghosts of past contention and face the future bravely as one, criticizing the past does not help the present or define a path to the future."
Not that I'm a fan of Wole Soyinka because of his deeds during the death of fellow Nigerian Poet and writer, Chinua Achebe; but I do believe and concur that he's right. First, most people on the list should never have been inducted as recipient of the great Centenary Award. Sani Abacha is one of the most hated household names in Nigeria. Nobody wants to identify with that family. Why honor him? The country was like an ice constantly melting in fear during his reign President Goodluck Jonathan: unless you were not leaving in Nigeria then.
What message is President Goodluck Jonathan sending to the citizens of Nigeria?