Nigerians were reminded of a grim period in their history this week with the announcement that the son of hated ex-dictator Sani Abacha had qualified as a candidate for state governor.
Mohammed Abacha (44) is to run for governor of northern Kano state in the April vote under an opposition party banner, dredging up bad memories along the way of his late father’s ruthless rule from 1993 to 1998.
The younger Abacha is viewed as a long-shot candidate with little political experience, but does have the tremendous wealth his family is reputed to have accumulated thanks to an alleged vast network of corruption.
His campaign is controversial even within the Congress for Progressive Change, with party officials signalling they will challenge his emergence as its candidate, which followed a legal challenge by Abacha.
Sani Abacha, who was a military general, died from what was believed to be a heart attack in 1998. His tenure was marked by a series of abuses, including the execution of Niger Delta activist Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight others.
‘Looters of Nigeria’
Nigerian author and activist Wole Soyinka, Africa’s first Nobel Literature laureate, accused Sani Abacha of running a “murder organisation”.
Mohammed Abacha has spent a number of years in jail, including over his alleged involvement in a politically linked murder. He has denied the allegations against him.
Junaidu Mohammed, a Kano-based political analyst, said Mohammed Abacha’s candidacy had more to do with his ability to influence political elites in a country with deeply rooted corruption than any upsurge in public support.
“His emergence doesn’t mean the public perception about his family as looters of Nigeria has changed,” he said.
His party’s candidate for president is ex-military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. Governorship elections will be held April 16, while the presidential ballot is set for April 9. — Sapa-AFP