Story Seven: Chideraa in Insecure Nigeria
“Daddy, is it true that MKO Abiola is in prison?” Chideraa asked in shock.
“Hmmm” His father exhaled “Abacha is a monster my son. He has placed top Nigerians like MKO Abiola, Olusegun Obasanjo and so many others in jail without a fair trial.”
Chideraa felt very bad at the news of Abiola’s imprisonment. They all wanted him to be President and he had already declared himself President of the country. That was why Gen. Sani Abacha, the Head of State of the country imprisoned him. His father continued “if Abacha could imprison Abiola just like that, then nobody is safe in this country again. That man called Abacha is as bad as the devil himself.”
Not only top citizens and officials feared him, even little children on the streets soon knew that the name ‘Abacha’ meant terror and Chideraa was one of them. He lived in Oshodi, Lagos with his parents. He was a ten year old boy in Primary Six and he was very intelligent. Among all his siblings his father liked him most. He was like Joseph in the bible, his father’s favourite son, and everyone knew it. He was the last child, but he had excelled academically more than the rest of his siblings. He was the only one among them to take first position in class consistently from Primary One to Primary Five and everyone expected him to come first again in this new term. His father often said that he became very intelligent because he started reading at an early stage. At the age of nine, he had already read over ten different novels and more than twenty story books. He read Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart” when he was only eight. Most times, he finished his school’s English reader long before the class had gone halfway. When he wasn’t busy helping out with house chores then he was reading in his room. He didn’t spend his whole day watching TV. His father usually dropped newspapers for him and he read them too. He also had a big dictionary and whenever he came across words he didn’t understand he will search for them in the dictionary. He was fondly seen discussing with his father and whenever he didn’t understand anything, he would ask questions. No wonder he was very intelligent.
On the 11th of November, 1995, Chideraa celebrated his eleventh birthday in school. He was now in JSS 1. His classmates rejoiced with him, but he wasn’t happy. His father had told him on the evening of the previous day that Ken Saro-Wiwa, an activist for Ogoni people, and eight other men had been killed by Abacha’s government and he had been feeling bad since that time. When would all these killings stop? He asked himself. News of the death and imprisonment of journalists, many human right activists and protesting Niger Delta youths became common.
Nobody could remove Abacha from the seat of leadership and nobody could persuade him out of his hard-heartedness and brutality. Even the Pope, Pope John Paul II, paid him a visit to change his heart but he refused. Only God could deliver Nigeria from his hands. Nigerian Christian went to church, prayed and believed God more than they ever did. Everybody wanted a solution to the terrible situation of insecurity being brought upon a nation by her own leader and God eventually delivered the country.
“Abacha ti ku o! Abacha ti ku o!” Everyone was celebrating and chanting all over Lagos. Chideraa who did not understand Yoruba asked his father what they were saying and his father who spoke Yoruba even more than some Yorubas told him that they were chanting ‘Abacha is dead’. Chideraa usually did not rejoice when people died, but in Abacha’s case he rejoiced. Truly, nobody had been able to kill him. The news broadcast said he died of a heart attack, but that was not the news that went viral. It was a more interesting way to tell the story of Abacha’s death when they said a young lady, one of his maids, gave him a poisoned apple. Finally in 1998 Nigeria was free from the insecurity of dictatorship rule. But sadly Abiola who was expected to be released from prison died on the day of his release in July, 1998. Major Gen. Abdusalam Abubakar was called to manage the country for the moment and then hand over power to the civilians. That was exactly what he did.