Naija Notes: What Abacha Owes You!

by Toni Kan Onwordi

Was it not William Shakespeare who asked the immortal question: what is in a name?

The Igbos know that names carry great meaning. A name is a pronouncement that marks an individual for life. It is not a dress that you can put off at will. It is like a second skin.

When Sani Abacha burst into our collective consciousness in December 1983, few people had heard the name. Today, almost twenty years later, only the deaf will say he does not know who and what Abacha signifies.

Who is Abacha? Abacha was the greatest kleptomaniac to have ever been in government. Infact, Mobutu Sese Seko would have had to learn new tricks from the Kano State born thief.

What does Abacha signify? The name Abacha signifies the height of infamy and base avarice.

A senior colleague broke things down recently in his bid to underline how sick (yes, kleptomania is a disease) Abacha was. The money stolen by Abacha is put at 4 billion USD but all the government is asking his family to return is $1.5bn.

Now, according to my colleague, $1.5bn at the current exchange rate of N125 to the dollar will come to N187.5bn. If you divide that by 88m Nigerians (aged 18 and above) you get N2,130. Which means the money Abacha and his family stole will buy every adult Nigerian a pair of jeans trousers or bag of garri or dinner at the buffet table of Sheraton Hotels.

Now the question is what the hell was the sick man going to do with all that money?

More statistics on Abacha’s loot next week.


As you read this, we have two impostors, two strangers, and two aliens in both our Upper and Lower Houses.

The impostors are Senator Florence Ita Giwa and Honourable Patrick Okon Ene. The two were, until October 10 2002, representing the Bakassi people in the Senate and House of Reps.

Now, with the ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) transferring ownership of the oil rich swathe of land and sea known as Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroon the two have ceased to be Nigerians.

Aha, now you get my drift. As Cameroonians do they have a right to remain in the Senate and House of Reps? I think not.

As if to pre-empt me, the two have pledged allegiance to and vowed to remain in Nigeria. Well, what did you expect? The bloody politicians know where their bread is buttered. Agreeing to move to Cameroon would be tantamount to signing a pact with poverty. Just think of it, will they earn the kind of jumbo salaries plus allowances they earn here in Cameroon?

Of course not.


I love articulate women. That’s the only reason why I like Kema Chikwe, Obasanjo’s minister of Aviation. But even that little shred of admiration is fast tearing apart.

The woman has a penchant for controversy. First it was Rochas Okorocha and then the El Rufai led Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE) over the sale of Nigeria Airways to Airwing Aerospace.

Well, when the controversy burst, Chikwe said she brokered the deal with the full connivance, sorry, cooperation, of OBJ who issued a warning to El Rufai and his people not to speak publicly on the issue.

Well, revelations from the public sitting paint a different picture. The deal, it appears, was brokered long before the president and his vice were informed. Secondly, Singapore airlines, which was said to be Airwing’s technical partner, say there is no such partnership.

Well, the case has gotten “curiouser and curiouser” with the Interpol hot on the trail of Mr Abdurahman Mohammed, a Malaysian National who is a director of Airwing Aerospace.

Mr. Mohammed it seems lied in his resume. The references and former places of employment did not check out and now the Interpol is sniffing around to see whether the man has a criminal record.

The question that has been bugging my mind is this: why do we attract crooked people? Where is Kema Chikwe when you need her?


Let’s end this with a short anecdote.

This young man is home, as in the village, for the first time. Sitting outside his uncle’s house he is fascinated by this mad man whose daily routine consists of walking around this huge tree that stands in the middle of the village.

One day, fascinated and bored, the young boy joins the mad man in his cyclic peregrination around the tree. Two hours later and giddy from the round about trip, the boy goes to sit at the foot of the tree.

The mad man goes round the tree three more times then comes to where the boy is sitting and gives him a really hard knock on the head.

The boy flees in tears. His uncle returns with him and accosts the mad man who is now seated and picking his teeth.

Looking up at the teary eyed boy, the mad man smiles and says: Madness dey sweet but the waka-about wey dey inside too much!

(Details coming soon!)

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