The Evil That Men Do, Does Not Mean Anything in Nigeria
by Akintokunbo A Adejumo
This article is not meant to hold brief or a rejoinder for Prof Wole Soyinka – I am most confident he, and others, can do this for himself more effectively than me; rather it is to seek to protect Nigerians from the insult and onslaught of the spectre of brazen and barefaced arrogance, insensitivity and deception that our society is having to contend with on a daily basis.
When I first read Sadiq Abacha’s response, or rather, reaction to what he perceived as an insult from the esteemed Professor Wole Soyinka’s comment about his (Sadiq’s) father, the late General Sani Abacha, my first reaction is to say “How dare you? Who are you to write against WS?”
But on second thoughts and a few mulling, I had to admit that Sadiq wrote very well, even if the content bordered on the ludicrous and the typically arrogant. And of course, I do not believe that just because Wole Soyinka is a revered and world-renowned master of letters, no ordinary person should stand up to him. No! Why not? Wole Soyinka is a mortal like Sadiq, and he has no monopoly of wisdom, intelligence or letters. But like a friend said to me, it is better and more civilised he wrote than sending hired killers and kidnappers against his protagonist.
But our country is a society where nobody speaks or accepts the Truth; least of all those who have benefited from the corrupt and illegal system. It is a society where corruption, depravity, greed, self-centredness and deceitful acts and actions by anybody in power are celebrated by the very people suffering under the yoke of mismanagement of resources and abuse of power.
Most of our rulers (and the followers), probably due to some warped and debased genetic aberration do not seem to have any sense, understanding and appreciation of the difference between Right and Wrong; between Good and Evil.
Such people cannot have a conscience. And this is why, even excusing filial loyalty, Sadiq Abacha cannot see, understand and admit that his father, Sani Abacha, is generally, not only within the shores of Nigeria, but also internationally, considered the most despicable and corrupt despot in Nigeria’s history.
But in a way, don’t blame Sadiq too much, or at all. First, he sees others of his father’s malevolent ilk and company, however less notorious in atrocity and depravity, walking and swaggering on the streets of the nation with unconcealed arrogance, looted wealth and lack of remorse, being worshiped by the same people they have wrought havoc of poverty and underdevelopment on, and whose counsel on national issues are still being sought by those who still hold them, albeit dubiously, in high esteem; the system being rotten and lacking in morals and integrity. His words reflect the insensitivity of this breed of people.
Secondly, I don’t expect him to denounce his father who assembled treasures and probably, limitless wealth for him and his siblings, that is why I appreciate and deign to him, “filial loyalty”. The side of your father you see at home is usually totally different from the side others see from outside, so goes the saying. You can pardon the young man, after all, if he doesn’t defend his own father, who will? But he could at least have kept quiet. And if he sees any slander in what is being said about his father, then he could go to court and sue for defamation of character. Unfortunately, by his letter, he has inadvertently, and with a delusion of grandeur, awoken very bitter memories and hatred in the minds of many of his countrymen and women, especially those who suffered or lost greatly under his despotic father.
The sad truth is that Sani Abacha, Sadiq’s dad was not just a heartless dictator; he was also notoriously known to be a thief all over the world. Whereas the Jonathan government seem to ache from regressive forgetfulness, Nigerians and indeed the entire world still remember Abacha’s reign of terror, slaughter, treasury looting, political intolerance, suppression of free press, and vicious elimination of opposition figures.
On the issue of Professor Wole Soyinka criticising every government, somebody, a friend actually, came up and asked me why, if Wole Soyinka know so much that he can criticise every time, why didn’t the eminent Nobel Laureate contest to be the President, or at least any other political office. I shook my head. Look at world history, and in particular previous detestable communist countries and despotic rulers; how many government critics have ever been subsequently either elected or appointed into positions in government? If that has happened, how many of such sincere critics get out of government with their integrity intact? Does it mean that when you criticise a government, you want to take over from them and correct the wrongs? No, Sir. You criticise because you want governments and people to change, and not because you want to taste or be in power. And those you criticise will seldom let you come near power anyway, even if you try it democratically. What happened to that most famous of Nigerian government critic, Gani Fawehinmi’s National Conscience Party? Did Nigerians even vote for him or members of his party? In the presidential election of that year, 2003, the NCP candidate, Gani Fawehinmi, came a very distant fifth, polling 161,333 votes or 0.41% of the popular vote.
Sometimes it’s not really the fault of the people siding with evil; it’s more the fault of the people who choose to celebrate it and the society that chooses to keep mute about it. Governor Amaechi of Rivers State once said that until the people started stoning them (the governors and other rulers, himself included), they will not stop stealing. Stealing in this context, in my own view, doesn’t mean robbery or pilfering in the true sense of the word, it entails every aspect of corruption, mismanagement, ineffectiveness, and bad governance. That Sadiq Abacha is talking back or writing back in support of his father’s award isn’t much his ignorance, but the foolishness and bad sense of timing and judgement on the part of the government bestowing the award on his father; and who despite the gloom that permeates our country over the mass murder of our children in Yobe; the unremitting killings in the states of Adamawa and Borno; the massive scandals of missing billions and so on, still deemed it fit to enact a show of shame and heedlessness in the name of the Centenary celebrations. If this government had not chosen to insult our feelings to ‘honour’ the late tyrant, there would have been no need for any of these letters, or has anyone of us heard of any Sadiq Abacha’s or any Abacha’s voice in recent years? Sometimes I wonder if Nigeria will ever see a good day again; if we will ever live in good times again, where and when truth and decency will prevail over evil and the debauchery we see every day and openly.
I have been engaged on Facebook and other social media with some of my countrymen and women who were praising the president for suspending the governor of CBN. It was appalling to have the exchange because it shows how much our society has become one that choose to embrace all sorts of evil over good. Ours has become a society where corruption is celebrated heroically and the real heroism is side-lined. This is a depraved society where thieves come home to a rousing welcome, instead of being shamed and chased out of town; a society where thieves donate millions in tithes to the church and the pastor and the congregation look away from his transgression but look up to the thief for favours and advice.
So this is what one can expect from children of today’s corrupt public officers, civil servant and others who I label as “Owners of Nigeria”. I remember watching footage of Abacha’s wife’s interview in the media proclaiming her deceased husband’s innocence. She’s a beneficiary of the nation’s looted wealth. So now we know what to expect of the children and/or relatives of our other rulers, military or civilian, and others of the late great Fela Anikulapo-Kuti’s “VIP – Vagabonds In Power” classification in future i.e. to defend their father’s record in much the same way.
It is no wonder then that the children and family of our rulers over the decades, whose sole assertion to fame (or rather, notoriety) is that of expert and adept treasury looting, election rigging, coup d’états, genocide, mismanagement, ineptness and bad governance, can now and often come out and insult our collective intelligence on a daily basis. But, you see; it is not fully their fault, it is partly our fault.
Our greedy, selfish, conscienceless and corrupt rulers know it, and they know we know it and you know they know it too.
Let the Truth be said always.
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