For developed nations, democracy means majority, whether there is opposition or no opposition, but Nigeria’s case insinuating Babangida’s 2011 presidency aspiration can be all about “monerity”. Whether theft committed by a military president is completely different from that done by a man on the street. Let them come to their decision, and then we Nigerians will finally lay the verdict.
After Gen. Babangida’s assumption of office, his administration unveiled a package of reforms, supposedly aimed ‘to uphold and consolidate the move to restore Nigeria’s democratic system through ensuring a congenial political and social environment, then holding a free and fair election and ensuring the people’s voting rights. Instead the reality came to fore; the people of Nigeria were made to witness a series of anti-people actions, done beyond the framework of the rule of law. Arbitrary arrest and detention of innumerable politicians, including prominent elder statesmen, demolition of slums, removal of makeshift shops from roadsides and pavements, layoff at several state-run enterprises are just a few examples of such actions.
Though an onlooker may wonder if Gen. IBB’s performance in office never pay positively on national development .The truth was his government which reigned in power for eight years while in khaki neglected the rule of law in executing innocent Nigerians, so far is a betrayal of its numerous supporters and sympathizers. Lets take issue by issue: Babangida opposed VAT and many people died in the “1992 demonstration march” part of which caused Dr.Tai Solarin’s ailment. VAT is still on and they even want to increase it. Whilst education suffers, rural communities withered, the MAMSA FUND was been diverted for what no one knows. The IBB regime was always on the side of bugs, but now they are talking of full economic recovery. His DFRRI programs did not seen any major road projects completed under his regime Railway sector did not seen any improvement as he pledged. A cosmetic move was made on the 1991 Mass transit, but the impact is almost minimal.SDP and NRC secretariat became a colossal chimney where billions of Nigerian money where charred, some of which were overgrown with weeds as I’m writing this pen-piece.
Progress on the strategic agenda for creating macroeconomic environment for pro-poor growth was better than that in the critical sectors like agriculture, water resources, health, and education and in the thematic areas like governance, service delivery and environment.
Economic growth process was not pro-poor, which indicated that fiscal and monetary policies need fine-tuning and more structural and institutional reforms so that the poor benefit from the higher economic growth
It was his government that made us argue against fuel price increases, by about 200% , yet the Refineries TAM services debt kept rising. Utility bills skyrocketed to over 150%.Thanks to the press, and blessed memory of Dele Giwa; we heard of massive corruption daily and no one seems to care as at that time. Many paramount Nigerians were murdered, at the stead; together with 34 others in broad daylight whilst the security refused to act and to date the perpetrators have not been apprehended. Master-minded plane-crashes became obvious. The Supreme Military Council was criticized.
Today the northern cabals used little political positions to terrorize the Nigerian people. Alfred Ruwane was harassed, Tony Enahoro has been harassed, two parliamentarians have been harassed and even the National Electoral commissioner; Chief Humphrey Nwosu was questioned for an electoral result he delivered. Who is free? The military-men were killing people arbitrary from Lagos, Calabar, Kano,Benin, Port Harcourt and Warri. The presidential motorcades was militarized and a nuisance, yet we can’t complain. Those unlucky to cross these motorcades are put behind bars. There have been too many accidents involving the motorcades.
We criticized the Babangida administration for SAP and IMF conditionality. Now we have accepted a degrading name of HIPC. We are even proud to display ”HIPC BENEFIT” on the commonest suffering Nigerians, after Obasanjo’s regime has cleared off the kept he left for Nigerians who knows how much loan he would incur in his second coming?.
A general who preferred alms proliferation to agricultural development made Nigerians to see no changes despite the noise we made while in he was in power. Nigerians import food. Local production saw no boosts till Abacha came to power. His appointees were on freebies. (Fuel, housing, utilities, cars etc.) and at gun-point. The national debt both domestic and foreign was soaring yet we don’t see the impact. Our sports were at an all time low. His regime introduced politics into our club football. All his menace while in power attracted ill- treatment to our officials abroad despite all the criticism IBB got for this. Meanwhile innocently buried Nigerians are still crying for help.
At the least we set up commissions for all this wrong-doings; whose recommendations are never implemented. People now see commissions as means of silencing issues. What happened to including billions of dollar oil windfalls (Gulf-war alias operation desert storm of 1991) etc. Numerous boards with people of dubious records and backgrounds were in his government to drain Nigeria’s state organizations. Most of the boards were avenues wealth amassing. Vehicles were seized at the ports sold to the military functionaries with chits from the Dodan Barrack. Contracts were awarded to favorites and the rates are about 50 times the real values, no longer had 10% .Military-men had their homes and offices renovated at dubious contract prices. N700b to renovate Detachable House and it is normal. The taxpayers were at the mercy.
Our hospitals were in deplorable state. As at that time; If you visit one, you would weep. General hospitals were closed down, meanwhile we had money to buy $900 million car for a brigade commander and renovate their houses. Military officials have just had brand new cars each.
We made so much noise about the Gulf Stream but 30mths on; we have not said anything definite about what went wrong or the next move. The state media became more sycophantic than any other. Nitel was ran by the 3-man IMC into a loss of N120bn in a year. Board members run bills of over N30million each a month. The IBB cabinet (though 30% civilian) were mostly inept and corrupt. He sacked about five without prosecuting them. Who would prosecute these people? Is it a case of selective justice?
That regime turned Nigeria into the 5 least attractive investment destinations and the 10th most corrupt in Africa. Has anyone asked why? Owing to non-functional Organizations alike; the NNPC was converted into White Elephants by the regime cronies to dry-drain the tax-payer’s pocket. The corporation was highly MANIPULATED into a political tool. Doctors, nurses, lecturers were frequent in industrial actions even the June 12, 1993 quagmire answered to this.
The tussle, which, needlessly to say, was devoid of any political principle, eventually led to the declaration of an infinite electoral time-table and installation of a military-controlled interim government led by Chief Ernest Shonekan. In the process, the people of Nigeria, to whom ‘all powers in the Republic belong,’ were stripped of their fundamental rights to the freedom of expression, thought and conscience, to hold meetings, to bring out processions, to move the court for democratic justice, etc.
The late Bashorun Abiola and Alhaji Tofa were used to test-run the scheme and Abiola became the sacrificial lamb. When the IBB regime withdrawn and the people’s fundamental rights restored remains anybody’s guess. Just like that Sani Abacha jumped in. Nigeria was brought to square one., Instead of reinvigorating the economy, the government through its various actions weakened it further. The prices of essential commoditi
es continued a relentless climb upward. Even worse, the government retreated into a state of denial and became increasingly intolerant of opposing views. There were instances of direct and indirect curb on the media and student protests on the campuses and other public institutions were brutally dealt with. The law enforcers even swooped on farmers for protesting against unavailability of fertilizer during peak cultivation season and cyclone-hit people for protesting against unavailability of relief materials.
All along, what should be the primary mandate of that government, i.e. the holding of contested and credible general elections, was seemingly being pushed down its priority list.
The biggest challenges for the nation will be the withdrawal of the IBB masterminded Abacha regime and restoration of the people’s fundamental rights, resumption of political activities and, most importantly, transition to governance by elected representatives of the people. That government was not advised to make meeting these challenges its year’s resolve. The longer the military remained the more restive the Nigerian people got and even take to the street to wrest back their fundamental rights.
Well if IBB did all these things and was voted out of power in 1993, why would he aspire to repeat the same issue; despite surpassing Nigerians in some of these shortfalls? His governmet has really been a disappointment to Nigerians. Nigerians have indeed been short changed. We did not vote for negative change. Nigerians have indeed lost hope in politicians as Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida. We did not imagine that the PDP would turn to be more wicked in policies than the choice they pretends to make from the north. Goodluck Jonathan should be empowered to complete Yar’Adua’s 8-year if there would be a need. May be we need another confession from the controversial IB. Babangida.