The Federal Government had shortlisted 100 persons to be honoured with Centenary awards as part of Nigeria’s Centenary celebration and the late tyrant, Gen. Sani Abacha was on the list.
Abacha's inclusion sparked lots of controversy and Prof. Soyinka even rejected the award.
The federal government has said Abacha was among those receiving the centenary honours because he was a Nigerian soldier and politician who served as the de-facto President of Nigeria from1993 to 1998.
According to the federal government, though Abacha’s regime was very cotroversial, it was the first to record unprecedented economic achievements.
The fedearl government explained that there was an increase in Nigeria's foreign exchange reserves from $494 million in 1993 to $9.6 billion by the middle of 1997 which reduced the external debt of Nigeria from $36 billion in 1993 to $27 billion, adding that the inflation rate inherited from Babaginda's regime was reduced.
Abacha’s administration was also credited with creating the most comprehensive and realistic blueprint for Nigeria’s development through Vision 2010 committee chaired by his predecessor, Chief Ernest Shonekan.