General Sani Abacha was born in Kano, Nigeria, on September 20, 1943. He came from the Borno State Kanuri tribe. He was a military dictator in Nigeria who presided over the country from 1993 until 1998.
If Sani Abacha were still alive today, he would be 79 years old. May he rest in peace, his soul.
Abacha attended both the Provincial Secondary School and the City Senior Primary School of Kano from 1957 to 1962. (later renamed Government College).
Nigeria was ruled by a civilian government known as the First Republic from 1960 to 1966, the years immediately after its independence. Abacha completed his military training during this time and was given his first position in the Nigerian Army.
He obtained his appointment as a second lieutenant in 1963 after completing his studies at the Nigerian Military Training College in the northern city of Kaduna in 1962.
Abacha was the first and only military head of state to advance to the rank of full-star general without moving up one rank. On December 31, 1983, he proclaimed the coup that overthrew President Shehu Shagari’s administration and installed Major-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari as the new leader.
Abacha was the one to declare Major-Gen. Ibrahim Babangida as the new military president and commander-in-chief of the armed forces in an evening broadcast on August 27, 1985, the day Buhari was deposed in a palace (the coup speech was read by Brigadier Joshua Nimyel Dogonyaro).
When he was appointed chief of army staff in 1985, he created a sensation by declaring that Babangida’s “second in command” issue was still open, despite the fact that Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe, who was then serving as head of general staff, was widely believed to be in that position. Later, the matter was decided in Ukiwe’s favor.
Elections were held in 1993, and Moshood Abiola, a candidate allegedly sponsored by Babangida, won. Babangida later declared the elections invalid and appointed Ernest Shonekan as the leader of the civilian interim administration.
This made it possible for Abacha to take over the administration and rapidly depose Shonekan. Nigeria became a permanent importer of petroleum goods under Abacha because all the refineries closed. Yet, Nigeria is still largely reliant on petroleum imports 17 years after his passing.
The importation of “foul fuel,” which had an unpleasant odor and damaged car engines, was a notable phenomena under Abacha. He established the Petroleum (Special) Trust Fund, which was largely considered to have done well in infrastructural development and intervention activities in education, health, and water.
He only increased fuel prices once during his four and a half years in government. After lengthy civil wars, he played a crucial role in bringing peace and democracy back to Sierra Leone and Liberia.
Although Abacha first pledged to restore democracy, his actions were anything but. Power-drunk, he outlawed any political activity, dismissed numerous military officials, maintained press control, and amassed a personal security squad of some 3,000 men.
While encouraging the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and its military wing, the ECOWAS Monitoring Group (ECOMOG), to send troops to Liberia and Sierra Leone to restore democracy, he mercilessly repressed his own people at home.
Chief Abiola and General Olusegun Obasanjo were imprisoned for treason during his rule. The Nobel laureate from Nigeria, Wole Soyinka, was likewise accused of treason despite having freely left the nation.
His most heinous deed was acting as judge and jury in the incarceration, prosecution, and execution for treason of Ogoni campaigners including author Ken Saro-Wiwa who objected to the environmental exploitation of their region by international oil firms.
While staying at the presidential palace in Abuja, Abacha passed away in June 1998. According to Muslim practice, he was buried the same day without having an autopsy. The most widely accepted explanation for his mysterious passing claims that he passed away among Indian prostitutes that had been transported in from Dubai.
The official explanation, meanwhile, is that he passed away from a heart attack. It seems more possible that he was “eliminated” in order to put an end to Nigeria’s political crisis.
In 1965, Abacha wed Maryam, a Shuwa Arab also from Borno state, and the couple had seven sons and three daughters. Ibrahim, the first child, perished in a plane accident in 1996.
Abacha and his wife had their final kid in Aso Rock in 1994, when he was 50 and she was 47. Mohammed, Rakiya, Al Mustapha, Sadiq, Abdullahi, Abba, Zainab, Fatima Gumsu, Ibrahim, and Mahmud Sani are some of his children’s names.
His wife founded the National Hospital, Abuja, which is still operating today. Prior to being upgraded, it was known as the National Hospital for Women and Children. It is now the top public hospital in Nigeria.
Abacha is a bearer of the national honorary degrees Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR) and Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON).
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