June 12: Inaugurate ‘Hall Of Shame’ For Abacha, Soyinka Tells Buhari

At the investiture of late MKO Abiola’s Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR) posthumous award on Tuesday, Professor Wole Soyinka asked President Muhammadu Buhari to extend his June 12 gesture by inaugurating a ‘hall of shame’ for the likes of late military dictator, Gen. Sani Abacha.

Soyinka, while speaking at the investiture ceremony, said there was the need for President Buhari to instate a ‘‘hall of shame’’ for the country’s late dictator who ‘‘broke the laws of Nigeria’’ and ‘’committed crimes against humanity’’. He said doing so will serve as a deterrent to the future generations.

At the ceremony where Abiola’s running mate, Baba Gana Kingibe and human rights activist, Gani Fawehinmi, were equally awarded the title of the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON), Soyinka also said it is a ‘‘creation of confusion’’ for President Buhari to ‘‘honour MKO Abiola in one breath and then admire his tormentor in another breath’’.

The poet said, “Mr President, since we’re honouring the heroes of democracy today, I will like to make a request that you should manage to stop creating confusion in the minds of Nigerians.

“It is not possible to honour MKO Abiola in one breath and then admire his tormentor in another breath. Loyalty is all very well, but loyalty can become perverse. That loyalty is retained to an individual who if were alive today would be before the international court of minds against humanity.

“One who broke the laws of Nigeria, who broke international law, pauperised this nation, committed crimes against humanity. It is confusing if professional loyalty is carried so far as to accord to such an individual (Sani Abacha).

‘‘We had a private conversation, thank you so much for that privilege, sometime ago and i remember one of the things i mention to you was this. I said you are fighting corruption, how come it that a notorious corrupt ruler is honoured by one of the most important avenues in the federal capital Abuja whereas individuals like an artists and philanthropists to the nation have not been honoured. The answer which you gave me was not too satisfactory but i let it pass. Today perhaps is also a day to inaugurate a hall of shame so that as we have a hall of heroes in one hand, we’d also have a hall of shame as a lesson to future generations.

‘‘But your apology has been most touching and on behalf of the Nigerian people, I accept it and i am sure that most Nigerians will agree with me. It is a beginning; I do not agree that this is a closure to the events of June 12.

‘‘There were far too many traumatised individuals walking around the streets, pauperised individuals, as a result of the policies and the attitude of one of the most brutal dictators that this nation has never known.

‘‘Closure will come by responding to those traumatised individuals, the victims of unspeakable tortuous, some of who were compelled to watch their beloved ones being tortured on behalf of a man who is determined not just to demonize and dominate his environment but to dehumanise that environment.’’

Soyinka further pleaded with the Federal Government to not forget ‘‘the nameless, the unsung heroes and heroines of that struggle.’’

The poet said people such as one of the ‘‘pioneers and instigators of the physical confrontation with our dictator (Abacha), comrade Ola Oni, who mobilised a number of young people and fought the goons and slaves of that dictator to a standstill in liberty stadium in Ibadan.’’

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