Donald Duke has shared stories of power and trepidation during the dark days of the military era.
Duke described how ministers quaked in their boots before Abacha inside the presidential villa.
“It was during this time that we really let our refineries go under and we just went into unbridled importation of petroleum products”.
“Of course there was a lot of backlash because the NNPC (Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation) boys wanted to manage the refineries themselves. I think Abacha just said, you know what, let’s just import this thing.
“It was during Abacha’s time that the real subsidy started. Look, the subsidy is a racket. Right now, they are paying over a trillion Naira. It’s not…that thing can’t be more than 400, 500 billion Naira. But you can’t subsidize what you are importing. Like I said, you can fix those refineries. Get the manufacturers to refurbish them as new. But the critical thing is who is going to manage them? If you give it to the same people, they will run it down!
“Right now, NNPC really has no business managing those things”.
Duke recalls exactly where he was when Abacha died on June 8, 1998. “I was in a friend’s house and we were talking”, he says with a knowing smile. “His name is Imam and he is from Kano and he was very close to Abacha. A phone call came in and I heard him shout: ‘Allahu Akbar!’ You know. And I said, what’s wrong? He was shaking. And he said ‘Head of State die. E don yamutu. I said which Head of State? He said ‘Abacha’. I said how? It was about 11am that morning”.