An Exhausting Ibrahim Babangida

by Banjo Odutola

An Exhausting Ibrahim Babangida

When Governor Ahmed Makarfi of Kaduna State gloats about his State; it is time to listen; when the history of the current political dispensation is chronicled, that part of the country may be noted for many inglorious events. The recent launching of Ibrahim Babangida’s contracted ‘scholarly’ attempt to enforce another of his cohorts’ interpretation of our national history in the period of 1985 – 1993, in a book titled: “A Heritage of Reform” will be noted for its Kaduna connections rather than the inappropriate title of the book.

So much has been written about the man and the period he plundered the country. An inept chronicler once asserted that websites owners would make a great deal of money from visits to read about the man: Dream on, I say. I cannot understand why some of the man’s chroniclers find it difficult to differentiate between their principal’s popularity and notoriety. The summation of all the attempts to define the man’s roué and skidrow bum period of governance should be titled: “A Heritage of Innovation“; I shall proffer my reasons for such an appropriate title. Nonetheless, let it be stated that this not an attempt to review the works of Bala Yunus Mohammed and Chidi Amuta. I do not intend to purchase the newly launched book until they are sold at the Dollar shop.

Books on characters like IBB are similar to that of Newt Gingrinch and his Contract with America Book. I bought a hardback copy at an Orlando, Florida Dollar shop. The subtext herein is simple. When grand ideals that failed manifestly and chroniclers of contemporary history want those who bore the consequences of the failures to convert the reality of their experiences, then it is true that our leaders will never learn. Chroniclers of IBB’s period in government may want us to believe in the Nigeria that they inhabited. There is nothing wrong in that. They cannot seek to pervert the realities of our citizens’ experience of his governance.

IBB’s innovations for a national polity are not peculiar to him alone; Newt Gingrinch, once a Speaker in the US House of Representatives attempted it and his contracts were breached by his fellow Republicans in the US Senate; just as Sani Abacha delivered a still birth of IBB’s policies. But it begs the question therefore, if there were no alternatives to these so – called reforms of our socio-economic development as claimed by Sonekan; we ought to ask why we had a crisis in the Banking Sector. Well, IBB may ask what Banking Crisis? Let him ask the families that lost their life savings to the avarices of the soi disant Bankers who got away with their crimes because IBB governance was a symbol of a checkout justice – The price of justice was named, the suspect paid up and justice was served. That was Babangida’s Nigeria. It was called “settlement”.

What IBB means to millions of Nigerians apart from his rich supporters will be re-demonstrated like his recent experience in Kano, where his fellow Northerners made known their feelings to him: our only unelected president. Do you remember how he was humiliated in the chorus of “Sai Buhari”, “Sai Buhari”; his people are rejecting him but a loyal clique reminds him that he is still a king, albeit without a kingdom.

But can it be said that IBB has no kingdom? The likes of Haiya Lata Tombai, a co-ordinator of IBB vision 2003 and all the other groups such as Nigeria Youths for IBB (NIYOB) believe in the man. When Haiya Tombai said of IBB that “he could be a personal property to his wife but when it comes to national responsibility, Babangida belongs to everybody”: Is Hajiya Tombai on a mind-bending therapy? The man’s kingdom is firmly rooted amongst Nigerians that participated in the ruin of the nation and those who believe that once their man is installed at Aso Rock, their time would come. Otherwise, how could one rationalise the loyalty of these people against the backdrop of the rape of students’ politics or the institutional assault on University Lecturers. How could the double-digit inflation of his time be explained? How could IBB explain his disregard for the rule of law? What about the way his merciless security operatives carried on as if they were above the law of the land? May be IBB can tell us how loyalty to him replaced professionalism in our Armed Forces; perhaps he can now tell us of his divisive leadership of our military; why does the gap toothed former soldier want us to forget his period of governance that wiped out the middle class and rendered dreams into nightmares; hope into hopelessness.

Edmund Burke (1729-1797), the Irish born Whig politician in “A letter to a Noble Lord” (1796) intimates: “To innovate is not to reform“. If Burke is right, Babangida should stop this nonsense of his reformation or re-engineering of the Nigerian nation. Have you noticed that the term used at Jos was “re-engineer”; it appears that a metamorphosis into “reform” was appropriate for the Kaduna Book Launch. Is it possible for IBB to understand what he did to the nation? So, are we now to believe he is no more the Engineer? He is now the Reformer. You mark me; the next book would be about how he reclaimed Nigeria! I doubt if these contracted chroniclers can make up their minds whether IBB was reengineering or reforming.

I submit the man innovated wrong values in our society and by his gimmicks, he demonstrated time and time again that he was an unreliable leader, a fine soldier and strategist but an unworthy Military General; a loyal friend to his chosen inner circle of friends but an enemy to the dreams and aspirations of millions of his fellow citizens; a powerful player in our politics but a wretched man who hagged politicians with his cancellations of elections when reality was at a variance to his plans; a very rich man of inexplicable wealth who lives in opulence when his governance rendered more millions of our citizens poorer by the time he transferred authority to his stooge.

May be one day, he can perceive these contrasts and realise that his policies were not only the bane of his administration. When a leader cannot be trusted, he is not the type to send forth reconnaissance for political ambitions. I hope the reaction to his restlessness in retirement will be such that he decides to take after Jimmy Carter of the USA; IBB should make Africa his constituency and stop seeking power in Nigeria. Jimmy Carter has proven that you do not need to be in power to achieve so much for your fellow citizens and the world – Who knows, IBB may, even though I doubt his capacity, become the next Jimmy Carter.

Chief Olu Falae who designed the Structural Adjustment Programme has argued contrary to the positions held by some of Babangida’s cheap ventriloquists. The man at his interview stated that SAP was not implemented as conceived. Shonekan or should I call him President Shonekan – if IBB could be addressed as a president, why not Shonekan as well? Whereas, the IBB stooge asserted such tirade of nonsense talk about our unfairness to his benefactor, it appears Shonekan is disengaged from reality. The Babangida stooge should not talk to us about unfairness; rather he should advise his friend to introspect and commit himself into other areas of human endeavour.

You see it is not only in Nigeria that a clique of people attempt promoting failed ideals on others. It has been happening at all elections since the fall of Communism in Russia, Poland and Romania. There are Communists who seek a return of the egalitarianism of the past; they forget the concomitant abuses of the State against the Citizens, simply because they were preserved from such abuses. Those communist protagonists are most likely the failures in the new market driven economies of their nations. Accordingly, is it any wonder that many of these IBB cheerleaders are farther from the corridor of power and it is unusually uncomfortable to operate without the spoils that IBB gracefully accorded from the Nigerian treasury?

When you look at Russia, where the State is failing abysmally like our country, there are people that prefer the old times of cradle to grave welfare. The correlation in this example is not only about IBB’s failed economic policies and his merciless security apparatchiks, the people who are pressurising him to return to power believe that time has stood still; they forget that IBB may not have the Nigerian Armed Forces in his control and like 1993, there may well be serving military officers who would not accept IBB as the helmsman of our nation. I have every reason to believe that they are many retired military officers that will stop at nothing to frustrate IBB; they are aware of his destruction of the military that shaped them.

There is no doubt that the rights of IBB as a Nigerian is constitutionally safeguarded for his presidential ambitions; that is, if he has one. In the same analysis, the man is as notorious as he is popular and this is a trait uncommon to leaders of nations whom history accord great deeds. We have had eight years of his failures as a Head of State; he exhausts the polity by his gimmickry and one wonders in the words of the present president: “What has Jack forgotten at Aso Rock?“; Only this time, we should be asking Ibrahim. The man should not be imposed on the electorate to make a choice between him and others. Unfortunately, for IBB, there are pundits who have analysed his game plan and this time, unless he rigs the election, there are millions of Nigerians waiting to avenge his eight years.

The question that I ask is this; after eight years of governance, is it not enough for the man to thank the stars for his life achievements, refuse the same mistakes as the current president – who has proven that in spite of his earlier experiences as Nigeria’s Head of State, he has not equipped for the office he holds. It only goes to demonstrate that military governance is different from a democratic one – Babangida may be forced to learn this simple lesson but only at the expense of the nation. He stands to exhaust us as a people and he may find that his guile as a military helmsman is inappropriate in a democratic dispensation and by extension the nation may be plunged into anarchy.

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Anonymous July 19, 2005 - 12:06 pm

this authour spoke my i wish this article is publish in a nigerian local media for people to read.

Anonymous June 27, 2005 - 2:32 pm

Where is the outrage? This is the question that I oppose to all those here in Toronto who have been trying to co-opt or recruit me for what they now term "The Nigerian Project"-the candidacay or potential candidacy of the gap-toothed General for the 2007 Presidential Election.

When I remember his days as Military president and the damage he did to everything we hold dear, I often wondered how we as a people allowed us to be taken for a ride the way it did. It became clear that we relied too much for others to fight our battles for us, especially when he started to settling everyone we thought had credibilty. They are on the march again. Only this time, the battle line is drawn.

I posit that if what is required to stop Babangida is a bullet to the head, I'm all for it. Who does he think he is anyways. Millions of people are living in abject poverty thanks to him. Many more have died because of him. A man like that does not deserve to live. He is the emobodiment of all that is wrong with our country. He must be stopped. If he's killed in the process so be it. His time is up. The blood of those whose death he engineered are still crying out for vendeance.

Sabella Ogbobode Abidde March 1, 2005 - 5:02 am

What is/was so special about Ibrahim Babangida? Like Mobutu, Moi, Amin, Eyadema and a host of other African “leaders” before and after him — posterity would be hash and very unforgiving about his life and time on the stage. He had the opportunity to do well and do some good; but instead, he dropped the ball on the nation’s toe!

Minnesota, USA


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