Friday, March 7, 2014

Centenary Award Debate: Does Late Sani Abacha Deserves It?

The Nigerian government in celebration of 100 years since British Amalgamation of the North and South honored 100 distinguished Nigerians with the Centenary Awards. Some recipients are being awarded posthumously(i.e late Gen Sani Abacha). Some rejected the awards citing irreconcilable differences (i.e Fela Anikulapos family, MKO Abiola family and Wole Soyinka)
Centenary Award Debate: Does Late Sani Abacha Deserves It?

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.''

"[...] a murderer and thief of no redeeming quality known as Sanni Abacha, one whose plunder is still being pursued all over the world and recovered piecemeal by international consortiums – at the behest of this same government which sees fit to place him on the nation’s Roll of Honour! I can think of nothing more grotesque and derisive of the lifetime struggle of several on this list, and their selfless services to humanity. It all fits. In this nation of portent readers, the coincidence should not be too difficult to decipher. I reject my share of this national insult."

However, son of the ex-leader Sadiq Abacha wrote a response in defense of his late father through the Daily Post 
"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."

"You are a learned man, you would have to undo all your learning to knowingly wish to undo all these achievements! I will be the first to proclaim that my father’s leadership was not pitch perfect or spot free, that does not exist, maybe in utopia but not here on this earth, so let us keep our discourse set in the sphere of reality please, he deserves the award, and he did not campaign for it, let it go, Sir…and allow Nigeria to at least bask in our survival and endurance in our growing prosperity and development in these trying times."

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? 


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