Ken Saro-Wiwa's daughter says her family won't waste time hating on Abacha for hanging her dad.
The regime reached such lows that a return to democracy was the only option: the Commonwealth had expelled Nigeria, and British Airways suspended its flights after my father and his eight colleagues were murdered. The Abacha years increased the cynicism and distrust among Nigerians, which served to entrench corruption.
The idea that we can look back favourably on the 90s is strange. It shows how low our expectations have fallen. There was no press freedom or space for political protests in those days, and child mortality was lower. As a nation, we need to stop looking backwards and start thinking forwards. Recycling old leaders hasn’t worked.
No, my family doesn’t hate him. We don’t waste our mental energy on someone like him. Abacha was one of the most brutal dictators but he was also the symptom of Nigeria’s problems, which means there were other men equally capable of doing what he did.
Many players were involved in the murder of the Ogoni Nine, and millions of people besides our family have suffered. So my anger is diffused in many directions within this morally bankrupt system. It’s not all about one dead man.
Social media and camera phones have boosted transparency to a small degree. But from what I understand, ballots are still fixed in some states. And the fact that someone like Buhari could return to power on a wave of optimism proves that people power doesn’t deliver good results.
A healthy democracy requires an interdependence between voters, business, politicians and the media. We don’t have that set-up in Nigeria, which is why politicians can still get away with failure and venality.
That’s a very big question. There are more technocrats, and the political scene is not as strongly ethnic based as before, but we still have no electricity and other basic amenities. No administration has dealt with Boko Haram effectively or addressed its root causes, and we still depend too much on oil revenues. It feels rather cyclical. I have much more hope in the younger generation, however. The under-40s will be the ones to turn things around.