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Abacha tales from Al-Mustapha

Published by The Nation on Wed, 26 Feb 2020

HardballHamza Al-Mustapha, chief security officer (CSO) to the late Gen. Sani Abacha, is out with Abacha talesAbacha tales that sound very much like Arabian tales.Arabian tales that are exotic versions of African moonlight tales, which Hardball believes, he himself barely believes.Major Al-Mustapha just outed with a yarn: that the US$308 million just being repatriated from Jersey, and dubbed the latest tranche of the Abacha loot, wasnt stolen by the thieving Abacha, but by his successor-rogues.Hear him speak, on the Hausa service of the VOA: All the money being repatriated were those stolen by some leaders who served after Abachas death. The late Abachas successors in the Presidential Villa were the thieves, who stole the billions and hid the money elsewhere.That is some claim, even if post-Abacha leaders could be fairly accused of alleged sleaze. But the wild muck-raking, mud-splattering, in favour of Abacha the confirmed thief, was clear.Why, the impassioned Al-Mustapha even pressed to service a red herring, attempting to tar sitting President, Muhammadu Buhari, for his service at the defunct Petroleum (Special) Task Force (PTF), one of the few redeeming features of the best-forgotten Abacha tyranny, which gulped as much public funds as it crunched lives and limbs.Hear Al-Mustapha again: I was forced to implicate the leadership of the defunct PTF under President Buhari then, during the military era. If there will be a genuine fight against corruption in Nigeria, many people will be arrestedmeaning' Well, talk is cheap!Still, its clear how Al-Mustapha attempted the pro-Abacha integrity equivalent of what the Japanese would call seppukuritual suicide for honour: by canonizing Abacha the Acclaimed Thief and demonizing Buhari, the acclaimed man of probity. Nice tryand plucky one for loyalty, no matter what, to a dead benefactor. What rogue nobility! But even Abacha himself would have winced: PTF was the whited sepulchre of his regime, generally believed untouched by Abacha-customized rot and sleaze.Its therefore rather amusing to observe Al-Mustapha play Nigerias contemporary Rip van Winkle, who snoozed for 20 years and suddenly jerked awake to make wild and jerky claims! Does he think other Nigerians were deep in dreamland with him all those 20 years'O, he surely thought he was still in the Abacha primal jungle, as the regime went after innocent souls, it had cowardly declared as enemies'Wake up, Al-Mustapha! Abacha might not be the only thief, among the rather undistinguished band of parasites, that Nigeria had the misfortune of having as past leaders. That is the cause of the crippling poverty and the unbelievable decay in infrastructure the Buhari presidency is killing itself to fix. Still, the dark-goggled one was in a class all his own!So, please, please, please, keep those Abacha, no Arabian, beg your pardon, African moonlight tales to yourself! Inasmuch as self-delusionthat Abacha was not a thiefis democratic, it is no less so for clear-eyed others to reject it with all the force and contempt at their disposal.
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