Parenting is the greatest gift we can hand over to society in our world today, for the home is the morning of the human adult. This is why, having straddled home and Diaspora, and given what we take to be the challenges to the moral health of children in contemporary society, my wife and I take very seriously our roles as parents.
Thus, one cannot but feel apprehensive when Hamzat Al Mustapha said he was setting up an NGO called Al-Mustapha Peace, Unity, Development Initiative, APUDI- (Premiumtimes January 26 2014).
According to the story, Hamzat Al Mustapha’s NGO will cater to the “ needs” of the youths. Trust Nigeria, very soon Hamzat Al Mustapha’s NGO will be awashed with millions of naira-cash! Hamzat Al Mustapha will also be invited to “present” “papers” as an NGO resource person! The question therefore compels a response: what did this man do in the past? And given his pedigree, what will he do now to Nigerian children and youths?
There is a legitimate basis to be apprehensive about the contact any assassin suspect or known person with morally, psychologically and socially questionable pedigree is going to have with our youths. This is because the moral character of children is the greatest gift any society can bequeath itself.
For those who are wondering why this position is necessary, I have this to say. General Sani Abacha was the Nigerian head of state between 1993 when he took power after the cancelation of the June 12 elections won by MKO Abiola and June 8 1998 when he died. Under Sani Abacha 9 Ogoni environmental activists including the famous Nigerian writer Ken Saro Wiwa were unjustifiably slaughtered. This was the period of military dictatorship when Nigerian democrats were hacked down to death in the cold hands of military goons such as Hamzat Al Mustapha.
Hamzat Al Mustapha was then the chief security office of General Sani Abacha. Together with Ismaila Gwarzo Sani Abacha’s Security Adviser, Frank Omenka of the then deadly Directorate of Military Intelligence, as the chief security officer of Sani Abacha, Hamzat Al Mustapha is a major suspect in the death of many Nigerian democrats including Kudirat Abiola, Pa Alfred Rewane and hundreds of others who died or were driven into exile.
Of course Hamzat Al Mustapha has denied that he participated in the massive hacking to death of Nigerian democrats during the military dictatorship of his boss General Sani Abacha. Even a court of law under the political influence- according to Dauda Birma, a former minister and a PDP politician- of the Nigerian state and President Jonathan has judicially freed him of guilt.
So if Hamzat Al Mustapha is right that he is innocent, then confessed state assassin such as Barnabas Jabila (a.k.a Sgt Rogers who confessed they killed Nigerian democrats including Kudirat Abiola) does not exist. But if these confessed assassins exist, and they at a time hacked Nigerian democrats to death, then according to Hamzat Al Mustapha’s alleged “innocence” these state assassins acted on their own in murdering Nigerian democrats. Or worse still perhaps Nigerian democrats who were murdered died in the hands of petty criminals or thieves. In other words Kudirat Abiola and other democrats were not killed by the sponsored assassins of Nigerian state under the supervision of suspects like Hamzat Al Mustapha, Ismaila Gwarzo, and Frank Omenka. Rather Kudirat Abiola must have been killed by some common criminals. It is not difficult to dismiss this fiction, this fairy tale.
There are those who may want to defend Hamzat Al Mustapha in making a case for his NGO to “cater” for youths by appealing to the biblical Saul the Christian persecutor who became Paul the apostle of Jesus Christ. In this regard, their argument would be that Hamzat Al Mustapha has suffered enough, he is penitent, and he should be left with his NGO for Nigerian children as a form of his atonement.
It is true that the conversion of Saul the persecutor of Christians to Paul the apostle of the Christian faith is one of the greatest conversions in the history of theism, faith and human society. However, the truth of Saul’s conversion to Paul the apostle of goodness and Christian faith says nothing about the life and times of assassin suspect like Hamzat Al Mustapha such that we are unable to allow him touch our children.
There is a moral agency in us humans when we are involved in conversion from badness to goodness. That moral agency inclines us to admit our errors and ask for forgiveness before God, Human and Society. This was the case with Saul the persecutor’s conversion to Paul the apostle of Christ. This why Paul today in Christian faith and theology remains one of the finest if not the finest witness to the truth of theism and faith from an ordinary non-angelic human point of view. He witnessed the faith and wrote as a common folk on the street of Oṣodi or Ọjọta, Lagos with no claim to being pure and above human.
On the contrary Hamzat Al Mustapha has not shown that he has any moral agency that will make him admit his errors and those of his dictator-boss –General Sani Abacha. Therefore, he has not asked for forgiveness from Nigerians. Rather backed by the Nigerian state under President Jonathan he carries on with impunity with which his contemporary state sponsors are known. Backed by the present Nigerian state he turned the ethics of conversion from badness to goodness upside down on its head by dubiously claiming he the suspect forgives Nigerians.
Hamzat Al Mustapha’s failure to admit to his own heinous crimes under the military dictatorship of his boss General Sani Abacha is the reason Nigerian parents must be very careful with Hamzat Al Mustapha. To allow Nigerian youths go near Hamzat Al Mustapha and his NGO is to put Nigerian children under the tutelage of an unrepentant and deadly assassin suspect. It is more dangerous and deadly for society when such suspect is backed by the Nigerian state under the present regime. Nigerian parents must be very careful.
Hamzat Al Mustapha’s case is no conversion. His NGO-Al-Mustapha Peace, Unity, Development Initiative, APUDI- must be seen as a public relations package to screen off and hide the sickening face of one of the most sinful and evil period of military dictatorship in Nigeria and Africa-the Ibrahim Babangida/Sani Abacha military dictatorship. Hamzat Al Mustapha remains who he is until he admits to his heinous crime and evil before God, Human and Nigerian society.
I maintain this position in the name of truth and the dead who no longer can wake up to bear witness to this evil period. We, by divine grace hold those who died during this evil period of Nigerian history a duty and shall continue to discharge that moral duty of bearing witness until we ourselves are called eternally.
Adeolu Ademoyo email@example.com is of Africana Studies and Research Center, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.