Nasarawa’s macabre memorialization

As Nigeria continues to beckon on better days more in hope than in expectation, the misplacement of priorities has become very public and very primitive to put it mildly.

Whether by shortsightedness or by electoral abracadabra, Nigerians always have the misfortune of allowing or electing into office leaders who barely know their right from their left so are preoccupied with pillaging the public purse during their time in office. Or with sycophancy, pleasing the powers that be.

Because they are beholden to the corrupt patronage of those they feel indebted to for their ascension to office, beyond those who queued up under sweltering conditions to vote for them on election day, their attention is usually so divided, and they are driven to distraction by the diversionary antics of those whose stock-in-trade is destabilization.

So, every now and then, for matters of memory, controversy calls, beckoned by those who know how to deploy public resources to serve personal and parochial interests.

On February 24,2022, Mr. Muhammadu Buhari paid a two-day working visit to Nasarawa State, and as is customary most times when a president is visiting a state, a raft of projects carried out by the state government lay in wait to be commissioned.

On the first day of his visit, the president commissioned the Lafia Cargo Airport, Skills and Vocational Institute, Lafia Bus Terminal and the Shinge- Kilema Road.On the second day of his visit being February 25,2022, the president commissioned the N2.1bn Late Sani Abacha Mega Bus Terminal in Karu.

Shortly after commissioning the bus terminal, Mr. Buhari appreciated the Nasarawa State Government for naming the Karu Bus Terminal after Nigeria`s late Head of State, General Sani Abach, adding that the naming was fitting given that the late head of state created Nasarawa State in 1996.

Mr. A. A. Sule also proceeded to explain that the state government decided to name the bus terminal after the late Gen. Sani Abacha giving the pivotal role he played in creating the state.

Speaking enthusiastically, Mr. A. A. Sule said: “So the biggest of our projects is actually this and this project for us, we decided to name it after the gentleman who gave us the state and that is why we named it Sani Abacha Bus Terminal.”

Now, for starters, no one gave anyone any state in Nigeria. Thus, any gratitude for the gift of any state especially when such gratitude is projected to be offered on behalf of the public is grossly misplaced, leaving in the mouth an irredeemably sour taste.

One way or the other, as the Nigerian project trudged on in spite of its many challenges, states would have invariably been created to expand Nigeria`s federalism. Because this would have happened anyway, no gratitude can in good faith be reserved for any military dictator for creating any state in Nigeria.

The military who at different times ruled Nigeria with iron fists had no business being in the corridors of power then. They were interlopers who cruelly truncated and complicated Nigeria`s democratic journey and even today, dead or alive, themselves and their memories bear the grotesque marks of interlopers.

It is why any praise for and memorialization in honour of former military dictators by any government in Nigeria must be seen for what it is: a shameful attempt to pander to parochial interests at the expense of the sensibilities of Nigerians.

This bears clarity because in a country where sycophancy is as much a government currency as corruption, the tendency to pay misplaced tributes to some of those who though now dead wreaked grave havoc on Nigeria is rising among politicians.

During activities to mark the 25th anniversary of the creation of Bayelsa State last year, the state governor Mr. Duoye Diri paid glowing tributes to the late Mr. Sani Abacha for creating Bayelsa State.

If the good Mr. Sani Abacha did while alive cannot be overshadowed by the many atrocities directly traceable to his government, they must also be cast side by side lest those who choose the convenience of short memory forget that Nigerians are yet to fully get justice for what transpired in the country between 1993 and 1998.

The sheer number of Nigerians killed or incarcerated by the Abacha regime from 1993-1998, arguably the most brutal military dictatorship in the history of Nigeria, should have counselled the Nasarawa State Government to name the Karu Bus Terminal after someone else better fit for and better deserving of the adulation of the good people of Nasarawa State.

The infamous Abacha loot which continues to advertise Nigeria in foreign lands as a country of kleptocrats should have advised the Nasarawa State Government that even in death Mr. Sani Abacha cannot offer any good example to the good children of Nasarawa State with his name so boldly stenciled on such a monumental project.

But, no. In a state where anything goes, all that matters for many is immediate political capital and little else. In the feverish attempt to curry this political capital, everything is mortgaged including the sensibilities of those for whom power should be truly held in trust.

Kene Obiezu,

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