If Adolf Hitler was a Nigerian, his name would be Sani Abacha.
Arguably Nigeria’s most tyrannical leader of all time, General Sani Abacha was the tenth Nigerian head of State. He was born on the 20th of September, 1943 in Kano state. However, he hails from Kanuri in Borno state. He was raised in Kano, and attended the Nigerian Military Training College in Kaduna state. After his graduation, he travelled to England for further education at the Mons Officer Cadet School, Aldershot, United Kingdom.
Upon his return to Nigeria in 1963, he got commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Nigerian Army. He continued his quest for a successful career as a soldier by enrolling for further military studies at the School of Infantry, Warminster, in 1971; and also the Nigerian Staff College in 1976.
Afterwards, he rose through the ranks to become one of the top guns in the Nigerian military. He is known to be the most successful coup-plotter in the history of the Nigerian Army.
He led the 1993 coup that ousted the then transitional head of state, Chief Ernest Shonekan, to become military head of state. He is known for his dictatorial leadership style, and for granting himself absolute power over all the masses and sectors of government. There were also cases of violations of human rights by his decrees. Anyone who dared to speak against his government or to incite people to mass action was either arrested and tried or killed, or both. Notable examples of people who suffered such terrible fate include Ken Tsaro Wiwa, a notable Ogoni activist.
Politicians like Olusegun Obasanjo and Moshood Abiola were also imprisoned at different times, while global literary icon, Wole Soyinka was once sentenced to death in absentia.
Perhaps, late General Abacha’s greatest crime against the people of Nigeria is in the area of corruption. According to Forbes, he personally looted up to £5 billion from the country’s treasury, and stashed the money away in foreign accounts. More than two decades after his death, the federal government has been unable to fully recover all the loot, though some progress has been made by the help of international agencies.
Sani Abacha had no concrete investments. All the companies he established in his name were only means to siphon public funds for personal use. He was a lover of luxury and power.
Despite all his atrocities, he had a quite stable family. He was married to Maryam Abacha, who is still alive at the moment. Maryam has been known as a philanthropist. She never shared her husband’s convictions about looting public funds, but used that which she had access to for the betterment of lives all around the country. She is credited as the founder of the National Hospital, Abuja, as well as many hospitals and special care homes all over the country.
Together, they had ten children, all of whom are still alive.
In June 1998, General Sani Abacha passed away due to unknown causes. It was rumoured that he was poisoned with an apple, while other reports insist that he had a cardiac arrest that fateful day. However, we can affirm that he died while entertaining two Indian sex workers at his private suite.