“Gen. Sani Abacha signed his own death warrant, precisely on December 8, 1997 the day retired Gen. Shehu Musa Yar’Adua was killed inside Abakaliki prison, in present-day Ebonyi state. The northern political mafia supported Gen. Sani Abacha against the June 12, 1993 political struggle to the hilt. They inveighed against the inviolability of June 12, 1993 presidential election victory of Chief Abiola and lobbed all inconceivable criticisms against virtually all pro-democracy activists and organizations, at home and abroad. But in early 1998, members of the Kaduna mafia were jolted by the unbelievable poisoning of the godfather; retired Gen. Shehu Musa Yar’Adua on the orders of a man they thought was one of them: Gen. Sani Abacha.
Suddenly, top members of the northern Hausa-Fulani political mafia had a whiplash that, Sani Abacha didn’t have the overall interests of the northern Hausa-Fulani establishment at heart. It was no secret the political ding-dong and kabuki being played by Shehu and Sani over power. The anticipation among the top brass of the Kaduna mafia was that, both men would settle their political differences for the overall benefit of the larger Hausa-Fulani interests. But Sani Abacha took it far. He orchestrated the death of one of the leading lights that the Hausa-Fulani had ever produced in modern Nigeria, He murdered the Tafida. Immediately after the murder of the head of the Kaduna mafia in December 1997, leading members of the Hausa-Fulani oligarchy: emirs, religious leaders, mullahs and the power brokers began to hold nocturnal meetings across the length and breadth of Nigeria. The Musa Yar’Adua family of Katsina is one of the most prominent feudal families in northern Nigeria. It was not by accident that President Olusegun Obasanjo handed over to another Yar’Adua; Umaru Musa Yar’Adua in 2007. These family members, with others are “the owners of Nigeria” to borrow the words of a northern Nigerian political analyst.
When you hear of the Kaduna mafia, they are real. These are a group of northern power brokers made up of; retired military generals, elites, emirs, intellectuals, mullahs and business men. It is a shadowy group, who are, to quote Dr Bashir Ahmed Ikara, “…a group of conservative people who regard power as their heritage in Nigeria.” Ikara, now late, was a professor of English at Bayero University, Kano, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and other numerous teaching appointments. He said these influential power elites considered it their birthright to rule Nigeria using northern Nigeria as launchpad but “the fact of the matter is that ordinary northerners have nothing to show for this long domination and are simply clamoring, like the rest of the country, for honest government.” And for any Nigerian leader; a northern Nigerian head of state for that matter, to orchestrate the murder one of the leaders, if not the foremost leader of the mafia was a grave and great concern. In all the nocturnal and subterranean meetings held in early 1998, the consensus among the northern political mafia was that, Sani Abacha too must forfeit his own very life for killing retired Gen. Shehu Musa Yar’Adua.
But how would the murder of the wily and stubborn general and head of state be carried out? Another military coup d’état was altogether ruled out, because of its bloodiness. Suddenly, the military wing of the mafia came on board and suggested the exploitation of the Achille’s heels of Gen. Sani Abacha: women. The Babangida military wing knew the lifestyle of Sani Abacha. These various groups had distinct reasons for pooling resources together to get rid of Sani Abacha and they did that on Monday June 08, 1998. How he died was immaterial and outside the purview of this biography. But there were clues to the under-handed moves of this shadowy mafia in Abacha’s demise. For example, by mid-summer of 1998, the subterranean moves by the shadowy Kaduna mafia and their military wing to get rid of Abacha had been perfected. As a matter of fact, a magus of the mafia, Prof. Jubril Aminu, former vice-chancellor of the University of Maiduguri and influential minister of education and petroleum resources under Gen. Ibrahim Babangida was mandated to telegraph the certain and inevitable death of Sani Abacha to Nigerians in a coded language.
A top and knowledgeable U.S. diplomat stationed in Nigeria during this period, but now in Washington DC informed the authors how the head of the military wing of the Kaduna mafia, now retired Gen. Ibrahim Babangida orchestrated the plot in concert with other members. “After five years of carefully kept silence under Abacha, Babangida began making statements a couple of weeks to Abacha’s death (that was June 1998) few weeks to Abacha’s death,” the go-to-diplomat disclosed. “I think those were unambiguous signals about the need to bring military rule in Nigeria to an end. Gen. Babangida’s sudden change of behavior seemed very unusual at that time, but in retrospect now, it seems they (referring to the mafia) may have expressed a powerful tide that was already moving against Abacha, and aimed to sweep him away, if necessary.”
Asiwaju recalls how he heard about the death of the murderous cretin; Sani Abacha in the UK on June 08, 1998: “I was shuttling between the United States and UK. We’re working hard as NADECO. We went to our NADECO meeting in the UK to finalize the second leg of the strategy to make a broadcast and enforce certain actions. Before then, I was reading Jubril Aminu’s interview in the Punch- (newspapers)-where he said Nigerians should not worry about Abacha’s transmuting into a civilian president, but they should worry about what followed.” According to Asiwaju during this period in 1998: “We’re persuaded during a brain storming session that we should get nearer Nigeria to do something about it. It was agreed we should stop him (that is, Abacha’s self-succession bid).” The strategy that was being vigorously discussed and being intensely canvassed during this period by leading NADECO members and top echelons of the pro-democracy struggle was the military option. This was the reason Professor Adesegun Banjo, a Nigerian-American professor of Morbid Anatomy at the University of Pennsylvania set up the peoples’ liberation army of Nigeria (PLAN). Banjo and his wife, Ngozika a nurse and an Ibo had imported cache of arms into neighboring Republic of Benin preparatory to commencing guerilla military warfare in Nigeria because of the June 122, 1993 political crisis. But providence intervened and Abacha died. Not a single shot was fired to remove the schizoid. The end of the Abacha military dictatorship was a surreal moment in Nigeria’s contemporary political history.
Asiwaju continued: “Sir Tunde Olowu had been with me in my flat-in the UK- for a couple of weeks, and on the night Abacha died, we’re just eating when a phone call came through that Abacha had died. We could not believe it until we saw on TV his body being taken out in a van. And that changed the texture of the struggle,” Asiwaju added. But with the murder of Gen. Sani Abacha, the northern power brokers regrouped and took a decision to replace Abacha with his army chief; Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, the man who had threatened to resign a year earlier, but had been prevailed upon by Gen. Ibrahim Babangida to stay put, because he-Abdulsalami- had a national assignment to execute for the “godfather.” With Gen. Sani Abacha, out of the way, three further decisions were made by the power-brokers: who to succeed Abacha-Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar; what to do with Chief MKO Abiola-who was in detention-and who to hand over political power to as a sop to the south-west Yoruba people over the murder of Chief MKO Abiola and finally buried the ghost of June 12, 1993.
Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo, a Yoruba man, and a fellow Egba man as Chef MKO Abiola and “… a man the northern power-brokers could do business with,” to quote Gen. Ibrahim Babangida in an interview with the New York Times was penciled down as head of state, so Nigeria as a nation could move forward. In late 1998 after the death- (murder)- of Chief MKO Abiola on Tuesday July 7, 1998; (the same Kaduna mafia murdered Abiola too) and after Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar unfurled a genuine political transition to civil rule program, which culminated in the handing over of power to elected representatives on May 29, 1999, Asiwaju returned to the country to hero’s welcome. Whatever has a beginning must and surely have an end. Gen. Sani Abacha underestimated the resilience and resolve of the Nigerian people. He thought that killing his political opponents and filling Nigerian prisons with political prisoners would dampen the resolve of the Nigerian people to determine their political affairs, but the dictator was sorely mistaken. On Saturday May 29, 1999 Asiwaju Bolanle Ahmed Tinubu was sworn in as the third democratically-elected governor of Lagos state.
With benefit of hindsight now, the rise of Sani Abacha as an army officer to seizing power with the concomitant national psychosis he inflicted on a blighted people for five agonizing years was a tragedy of gargantuan proportion. Abacha was not supposed to rise to the position of an army general according to recommendations of his military instructors in 1971, the same for Gen. Idi Amin Dada of Uganda. As Gen. Colin Powell, former chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff and U.S. secretary of state once disclosed about the murderous imbecile; “Abacha had the worst CIA bio I’ve ever read, and I’ve read lots of them.” Mr. Powell was one of Abacha’s teachers at the military academy during Abacha’s short training in California, the United States. Mr. Powell called the dictator not to seize power in the fall of 1993, but the wily general ignored his former military instructor.
Gen. Babangida single-handedly planted his neighbor, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar as head of state following the murder of Sani Abacha in June 1997. “Abdulsalami and I went to school together,” Babangida disclosed. “His home was next to mine. Our parents knew each other. We are not really related, but we are very close, having been together for about 49 years.” Babangida had prevailed on his near-kinsman six months earlier in 1998 not to resign from the Abacha military junta. The godfather had a job for one of the members of the Kaduna mafia. Lt-Gen. Jeremiah Useni, the minister of the federal capital territory (FCT), Abuja was the most senior army officer, who should have stepped into deceased Abacah’s shoes in 1998, but the Kaduna mafia plotted and orchestrated its manfiki led by retired Gen. Ibrahim Babangida to plant Abdusalami Abubakar on Nigerians. The fact of the matter was that, the coup d’état plot engineered a year earlier on the necks of Gen. Oladipo Diya and his fellow Yoruba army officers was a well-calculated and choregraphed artifice to get Gen. Oladipo Diya out of the way of succession so that he would not step into Sani Abacha’s shoes as soon as the Kaduna mafia got rid of the evil tyrant in 1998.
In addition, the Kaduna mafia had already decided six months earlier in 1998 that Chief MKO Abiola would also be murdered so, to use the words of one of the mafioso; “Nigeria could move forward.” It was also the plan of the mafia to bring back retired Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo as “elected” civilian president as a sop to the south-western Yoruba people on their “loss” of Chief MKO Abiola, the acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election voided by Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida. During this time, Gen. Obasanjo was still in prison, completely oblivious of events outside prison walls. These self-styled “owners of Nigeria,”-not more than a handful of individuals- decide the destinies of the rest nearly 200 million Nigerians. When Prof. Jubril Aminu told The Punch that Nigerians should not be alarmed about Abacha’s self-succession bid, rather should be concerned about what would follow thereafter in 1998, he was talking in coded language as a member of the shadowy Kaduna mafia.
In the fall of 1998, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida flew from Minna to Abeokuta, Ogun state to hold a tete-a-tete with just-released former head of state; Gen. Obasanjo. He presented the agenda of the Kaduna mafia to Gen. Obasanjo and gave three reasons the latter should accept to become an “elected” civilian president. First, he had been sent to prison by deceased Gen. Sani Abacha. That was a stain on Obasanjo’s military record. Even though pardoned by Gen. Abdusalami Abubakar, there was the possibility that Gen. Obasanjo may not be able to attend the national council of state meeting as a former head of state. The second reason advanced by Gen. Babangida in convincing Gen. Obasanjo to return to power in 1999 was that, the Yoruba people would feel cheated and rightly so aftermath of Abiola’s murder, if a northern person became head of state. The Kaduna mafia trusted Gen. Obasanjo and had decided that Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo was the one Yoruba man; “the Kaduna mafia could do business with.”
Finally, the Minna-general told Gen. Obasanjo that, he should not bother himself about money for electioneering campaign. The Kaduna mafia would reach out to the America’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to provide cash. In 1999, millions of American Dollars were funneled through late Robert McNamara, former US defense secretary and later president of the World Bank to the presidential campaign of retired Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo and the army-financed and mafia-backed People’s Democratic Party-PDP. Retired Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo was “elected” and sworn in as president of Nigeria on Saturday May 29, 1999. Nigeria, the most populous black nation on earth had been pulled out of the edge.”
“Excerpts from “Asiwaju: The Biography of Bolanle Ahmed Adekunle Tinubu” by Moshood Ademola Fayemiwo, PhD and Margie Neal-Fayemiwo,Ed.D
Pages 259-267. Published by The Jesus Christ Solution Center, DBA Texas in collaboration with Booklocker Publishers Inc, FL, USA).