“Year by year we are becoming better equipped to accomplish the things we are striving for. But what are we actually striving for?” - Bertrand de Jouvenel
Many Nigerians were not amused when former dictator, General Ibrahim Babamosi Babangida, recently came out to confirm the swirling rumours that he was contemplating a run for the presidency in next year’s elections.
Babangida ruled Nigeria for eight years, so Nigerians rightly wondered what the ex-tyrant forgot at Aso Rock, Nigeria’s equivalent of the White House.
Born in August 17th, 1941 IBB, as he’s fondly called, was orphaned when he was fourteen. He joined the Nigerian army and was reputed to have participated in almost all the military coup de tats in that country. He reached the pinnacle of his army career in 1984 when he was made the Chief of Army Staff. His bloodless coup of August 27 1985 against Major General Mohammed Buhari made him Nigeria’s Maximun Ruler. He ruled Nigeria from 1985 until 1993 when he was disgraced out of office and forced to hand over power to a monstrosity called Civilian Transitional Government which crashed few months later when another general, Sanni Abacha, launched his own coup.
IBB’s departure was precipitated by his annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election – widely adjudged the freest and fairest in Nigeria. The election has been won by the late Business Mongul, Chief MKO Abiola.
Nigerians are stupefied by the effrontery of the ‘Evil Genuis’ to declare intentions to run for elections as their president. They all wish that it is one of the bad jokes for which IBB is well known. Commentators have used very strong vitriol to ask what on earth could have prompted the former generalissimo to abandon the comfy environ of his opulent manse in Minna to come and seek the mandate of Nigerians. Were he not to be a practicing Moslem, many would have opined that IBB had imbibed too much of Ogogoro, Nigeria’s very potent liquor.
Rent-a-crowd is a pastime of Nigerian political elite so there’s nothing new in seeing some people vowing to die for ‘Maradona,’ - another of IBB’s moniker. IBB’s paid hirelings have so far being unable to come out with any cogent or logical explanation as to why Nigerians should take the former irritating tyrant seriously. Their only unconvincing argument is that IBB has the constitutional rights to seek office.
At the height of his insane rule, some Nigerians, including very prominent people, came out to support the dark-goggled ogre, the late unlamented General Sanni Abacha’s ambition to elongate his tyrannical rule. Some even came out to organize what they call ‘One Million man marches’ across the land. Many jeun-jeun (unprincipled) monarchs trooped to Abuja to show solidarity with the despot that was wreaking havoc on all and sundry.
But as they say in Africa, man proposes but god disposes; death intervenes to thwart Abacha’s machinations to perpetuate his despotic rule.
Nigerians have no lost love with their rulers whom they blame for truncating the aspirations of the citizens to be great and to be counted among the great achievers of the world.
Nigerians are generally very confident people with a can-do spirit. And the nation is immensely blessed with vast resources of mineral wealth with crude oil being the most renowned.
The country’s efforts to march forward have been hobbled by dishonest and insanely corrupt political elite which continue to treat the country like a conquered territory. Nigeria, thus rightly, blame their mis-rulers who, over the years, have looted the commonwealth in sickening display of very, very primitive acquisitiveness.
No true figure exists on the havoc the otiose and blood-sucking parasitical elite have wreaked on the nation. The simple fact that many of Nigeria’s ex- leaders are richer than Zeus attested to the fact that the country has been badly raped. A former minister of defence, Theophilus danjuma, recently lamented that he did not know what to do with the half a billion dollars he had left after paying his bills from a billion dollar windfall from a oil deal.
And that is in a country where citizens still scavenge in the dustbins for food!
Both IBB and Olusegun Obasanjo (another former ruler) are believed to be billionaires and we are talking American dollars! IBB has never done any honest job in his life to earn him his stupendous riches.
Any decent Nigerian ought to be affronted by IBB declaration that he wants to rule Nigeria again. Having treated his country with such disgusting impunity, it shows crass contempt for the feeling of his compatriots for a man who is largely responsible for the nation’s sorry state to say that he wants to come back to power. It shows not only inordinate egoistical ambition but also gross insensitivity to the memorial of the victims of his regimes most notably Dele Giwa, General Mamman Vasta and Chief MKO Abiola.
If only for the memories of these fine patriotic Nigerians who were callously sacrificed for the ambitions of IBB, Nigerians must rise up and say big NO to another IBB’s rule. They must also appeal to their friends and foes to join them in thwarting IBB. For once, Nigerians should pick the gauntlet throw up by IBB. We must, for once, confront the evils of these mindless, thieving tyrants who believe that they have the right to mess up with our posterity.
As the late prophet of Pan-Africanism, Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem, implored us, ‘We shouldn’t agonise, but organize.’ We should use every available space and opportunity to counter IBB and his overpaid hirelings’ evil machinations to tell us barefaced lies in order to sell a rotten product like IBB to us.
Having ruled Nigeria for eight largely inglorious years, IBB simply have nothing new to offer us. And at this juncture of our national life, we do not need men with the integrity of hyenas to be our leaders. IBB is a totally amoral person with ego the size of the Atlantic Ocean.
Dele Giwa was among the finest journalists Nigeria ever produced. Together with a team of young, enthusiastic writers and wordsmiths, Dele Giwa, completely re-wrote the script of Nigerian journalism with his Newswatch magazine. He was a totally fearless and patriotic Nigerian who believed in using his chosen profession to help bring some sanity into the affairs of his country. Alas, the young life of this fine gentleman was brutally cut short by a parcel bomb believed to have been sent by IBB.
It was the first time such dastardly act was committed in Nigeria. Dele Giwa was on the trail of a lady cocaine dealer who was believed connected with the gap-toothed ruthless dictator when he was killed in 1986. He was at the prime of his life and his only crime was to have boldly confronted the evil forces wreaking havoc on his fatherland.
There were too many circumstantial evidence to link Babangida to Dele Giwa’s death. When he received the deadly parcel, Dele Giwa, who evidently was expecting a parcel from the presidency, was said to have remarked that ‘it must be from Oga.’
And to date, the dictator has refused to tell his own side of his story. Babangida bluntly refused to appear before the Justice Oputa panel set up to investigate the death of the doyen of Nigerian journalism. And then he went ahead to prevent the publication of the panel’s report through spurious litigation.
General Mamman Vasta was one of the few intellectuals the Nigerian army ever produced. A fine soldier with fondness for literature, especially poetry, Vasta was accused of plotting a coup against the Babangida’s bastard regime. He was dragged before a military tribunal, sentenced to death and was executed by firing squad.
That was not all, it was alleged that that was not enough to satisfy the blood lust of IBB who had Vasta’s body doused in acid.
General Mamman Vasta was Babangida bosom friend, and their friendship went all the way to the beginning of their careers in the army where they were so inseparable that many mistaken them for siblings. Babangida was the best man at General Vasta’s wedding and, according to Mrs. Vasta, IBB took good advantage of Vasta’s good nature.
Of course, the worst dastardly act of Babangida was the annulment of the legitimate election of Chief MKO Abiola on June 12, 1993.
Chief MKO Abiola was southern politician who won the election fair and square, yet Babangida had the audacity to cancel it. The agitation for the fulfillment of his mandate led to the imprisonment and death of Africa’s best known philanthropist. MKO was another friend killed by IBB’s duplicity.
Today, this perfidious tyrant is coming out to ask that Nigerians vote for him. The mighty question is beggared: what does he take his compatriots for? Does he think that Nigerians are a bunch of mindless simpletons who are too awed by his ill-gotten wealth?
Hafsat Abiola, a daughter of the late politician put it succinctly when she declared recently: ”Should IBB wish to be taken seriously … he should seek to close his credibility gap. ‘Maradona,‘ ‘evil genius,‘ and all these other epithets point to qualities of a liar, a dupe, a fraud. That persona may have been an asset in the context of a military dictatorship but in the quest for a leader that can move Nigeria forward, it is a liability.”
In any decent society, IBB would long have been carted before a tribunal to account for his giant acts of perfidy against his country. For a man who ought to rot in jail to come out and ask for mandate to rule shows nauseating gut at its worst. In some societies, IBB’s head would have been separated from his neck long time ago.
No one denies that there was always corruption n Nigeria, but it was under Babangida that corruption was polished to an art form.
It is difficult to know where to start recounting the scandals perpetrated under IBB’s rule. Specifically, IBB must tell Nigerians what happened to the over US$12 that was realized from excel crude oil proceeds between 1988 and 1992. The money, kept in a stabilization account under the exclusive control of the President and the Governor of the Central bank of Nigeria, simply grew wings and flew away.
Babangida need also to tell Nigerians the source of his stupendous wealth. Since he never had a job outside the Nigerian Army, a simple arithmetic will allow us to calculate how much he has collected as salaries, emoluments and pensions. It certainly will not come anywhere near his current opulent wealth.
Babangida’s perfidy definitely knew no bound. A reckless Machiavellian, IBB canvassed Nigerians opinion about the poison the IMF was giving to Africa in the guise of a misnamed Structural Adjustment Policy (SAP). In a referendum, Nigerians overwhelmingly rejected the imposition of SAP. A Nigerian economist, the eminent Professor Adebayo Adedeji, labored and published a comprehensive paper as an alternative to SAP. That did not stop Babangida from imposing SAP on Nigeria!
That was the beginning of the end of Nigeria’s economy. The national currency was, among other things, made almost inutile by massive devaluation. Things fell apart and they have since never been the same again. Nigeria under Babangida joined the rank of banana republics as trade in illicit drug and massive corruption flourished like no-man’s business.
I have recounted on several occasions that Nigeria’s has never had the good fortune to be blessed with a patriotic leader of vision, but Babangida so thoroughly bastardised the Nigerian presidency that he made the other rulers look like saints in comparison.
Where does one even begin to talk about the dastardly acts this shameless apology of a leader perpetrated against his own country?
It galls to no end to see the same shameless man having the temerity to announce his candidature for Nigeria’s highest office!
Who the heck does IBB really think he is? Nigeria will celebrate (?) 50 years of nationhood in October, Babangida has ruled for eight years of those 50 years. That should be enough for any normal human being not afflicted with revolting megalomania.
There are other dastardly acts for which Babangida must be prepared to offer full answers and not the half-truths and evasions he continue to serve through his minions.
Nigeria has always been regarded as a secular state even though Christianity and Islam are major religions practice by most of the populace. In 1986, Babangida surreptitiously smuggled Nigeria into the Organization of Islamic Conference as a member state. It was such a volatile, polarizing and nation-rending act that no Nigeria government has, to date, had the confidence to fully explain it.
When asked why he’s seeking the presidency instead of enjoying his ill-gotten wealth, the despicable gap-toothed tyrant was reported to have said that Nigeria youth are not properly equipped to lead and that the nation needs atrophied ancients like himself to steer its affairs.
That statement alone should have disbarred the stupid despot. Bloody tyrants like Babangida stole the future of Nigeria and, tongue-in-cheek, come out to lampoon the youth for lacking the education to lead their nation!
What education exactly was Babangida talking about? It is a great pity that one-track minds like the thieving Minna general are beyond irony. A man that introduced measures that totally destroyed the vaunted Nigerian education system today turns around to blame the youth for lacking education. May we ask IBB what type of education he himself had? You cut a man’s tongue out and turn around to accuse him of being a mute.
Babangida has murdered sleep; Nigerians must ensure that he shall sleep no more. This venal hyena must never be allowed to toy with the destiny of a nation. He has stolen enough of Nigeria’s wealth and while Nigerians appear powerless to do anything about that, they can and must ensure that disreputable thieves like Babangida are never allowed to wield power ever again!