The hired crowd that graced former President Babangida’s move to pick up his presidential nomination form in Abuja is classic IBB. Here is a man who cannot visit Lagos in the day, yet he has a coterie of admirers enough to cause momentary stampede in Nigeria’s political capital when he decided to stick his neck out for 2007 Presidential elections as already widely rumored. But this event is puzzling; for one, Babangida knows he stands no chance of winning PDP nomination yet he picked up the form. OBJ has the final veto power according to that party’s constitution (as doctored by him), why did he take this risk? Babangida knows Ribadu has particularly singled him out, why does he want to be president? Babangida is cock sure that he would be better off building up his own party from ground up than contesting on PDP’s platform, why has he decided to risk valuable political time and capital?
Some people say IBB is contesting so that he will vilify and discredit Obasanjo in case he is roped by EFCC as a case of intolerance for opposition. I disagree: simply because he can achieve exactly the same thing or even better outside the People’s Demonic Party. In fact, IBB is the least likely person to get the sympathy of the influential civil society led by Wole Soyinka and Gani in case he faces off with Obasanjo; and he is very smart enough to know that OBJ and Ribadu in the pursuit of opponents perceived or real who are corrupt do not care about the rule of law or their reputation. Ask Dariye and Peter Obi one or two things about identifying with the rigmarole protection of opposition politics.
Of course the most plausible reason I can think why IBB decides to put his neck in the guillotine this time around is simply because he sees the election as some kind of defense mechanism. Have you ever wondered why IBB is yet to be tried in eight years? Do you realize that IBB was one of the “leaders of thought” that persuaded OBJ to contest for the presidency after his release from prison? Are we aware of the agreements or back room deals that must have been done and kept by these two militarists for the past eight years? Did you see how vehemently OBJ have denied the culpability of IBB in corrupt acts, annoyingly asking for proof when he was confronted at the London forum? Okay, juxtapose OBJ’s view on IBB with that of Ribadu which has been nothing but contempt and disgust, and now mirror that with the reality that Ribadu’s term does not expire until two and a half years into the new administration who will not be bound by the yeomen’s agreement he had with Olusegun Obasanjo.
Certainly to you my readers it should be obvious that IBB is in the race not for any other party’s nomination, but for the nomination of a party dominated by people who truly hate his guts and who will stop at nothing to decapitate him simply to extract some form of agreement to protect himself for at least another eight years. This is a tormented man whose protective juju is about to expire and is desperately in need for another one to replace the former. Don’t be deceived, as Sabella rightfully postulated in his recent article; IBB is not in this race to win neither is he likely to be looking at being PDP’s candidate: he is just looking forward to extract some deals, swap some valuable delegate votes for a deal that will allow him to be left alone after May 29 2007. Certainly, he will be looking for a combo deal that will effectively either dismiss Ribadu or render him powerless; perhaps something like creating a new Chairman of Board over EFCC that has veto power on investigations, eventually forcing the indefatigable Ribadu through the back door.
In Obasanjo’s Canny Mind
This is not my first time of alluding to the supremely calculating mind of Obasanjo when it comes to putting people in the place where he feels they belong politically. IBB is canny, but OBJ is canny and brutal. He holds no prisoner: till date, no one in the Nigerian political stratosphere have confronted this man and escaped unscathed. Without lifting his most adept hand, some lost their lives in the process (ask Okadigbo and Bola Ige), others became the stuff of demeaning press jokes (ask Governor Alams), many of the rest are now political history (Enwerem, Awoniyi, Ogbeh, Dariye, Ladoja) and they are too many to mention. The only person that have managed not to confront baba till date and kept his reputation of political foxiness intact is IBB. But it appears IBB’s time is up, he finally feels he is prepared for the show down and might be making a grave mistake.
The obvious questions could be raised, why OBJ has not moved against IBB until this day. That question is better directed to the dramatis persona and is better put in context of the back room deals that led to Obasanjo’s backroom election. But there is one thing that is sure to happen in the up run to the PDP primaries. In Obasanjo’s mind, he can’t just wait for IBB to truly stand for that election. OBJ is looking to disrobe the emperor and reveal him naked. He is looking forward to demystify IBB and render him toothless; he can’t wait to use his internal rigging machinery within the PDP as a last resort to show IBB who the true boss is. I am sure OBJ feels comfortable playing in his turf; he has been through this many times. Atiku tried it in 2003, so did Awoniyi a year before and Ogbeh a year after, Ekwueme in 1999 and Buhari in 2003- they are all singing new songs as living political deadbeats today.
No politician is mentally the same after a loss. A loss in the PDP primaries will demoralize IBB and allow his friends whom OBJ have feared till date, and who could call him to order if he broke the deal of 1999, to depart him. IBB would also have lost valuable time in building up a new party to confront OBJ’s anointed candidate. IBB will be friendless one day after the PDP primaries and Ribadu will be able to move in fully into action. This fight of Generals who have practical military and political experience relevant to this fight will not go down well that easily; what is for sure is that we are about to witness one of the most adept political chess game in the history of our country only comparable perhaps to the showdown that gave MKO Abiola the upper hand in the Jos Convention of the Social Democratic Party. Only that this time around, no Ghana must go will need to exchange hands because baba got it all under control. As for me and my family: we dey siddon look.