Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka, has criticised President Muhammadu Buhari for his commendation of late military dictator, Sani Abacha.
He warned that President Buhari cannot praise Mr Abacha in one breath, then honour the presumed winner of the 1993 presidential polls, Moshood Abiola in another.
A few weeks ago, President Buhari had said that regardless of public perception of Abacha, he (Abacha) ran one of the most effective governments in Nigeria’s history.
Abacha was Nigeria’s 10th military head of state from November 17, 1993 till his death on June 8, 1998.
Mr Abacha’s government was marred by rampant corruption and human rights abuses, especially the hanging of activist, Ken Saro-Wiwa and some other activists.
Abiola and President Obasanjo were jailed for treason while Mr. Soyinka was charged in absentia with treason.
President Buhari on Tuesday morning,conferred Mr Abiola with the nation’s highest honour, the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic, (GCFR) – a honour exclusively conferred only on presidents and former presidents.
While Abiola was given a posthumous award GCFR, his then running mate, Babagana Kingibe, was awarded the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON).
Soyinka asked the president 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 if that loyalty is retained to an individual who if he were alive today would be before the International Court of Crimes against humanity. The one who broke the laws of Nigeria, International laws, pauperized this nation, it is confusing if professional loyalty is carried so far as to be accorded such an individual. We had a private conversation some time ago and l remember one of the things which l mentioned to you was this …l said you are fighting corruption.. how cometh that a notorious dictator, corrupt ruler, is honored by one of the most important avenues in the capital of Abuja, whereas, individuals like the martyrs of the struggle, philanthropists have not been honored. The answer you gave to me was not too satisfactory.”
He further proposed a hall-of-shame for past Nigerian leaders who were infamous for their brutality ”to sound as a warning note to would-be bad leaders”.
Mr Soyinka, conveyed an appreciation for the apology rendered by Mr Buhari for the June 12 atrocities.