This is not another successful coup d’etat speech reminiscent of my notorious exploits in the military as a professional coup-plotter. It is not about being part of those who truncated democracy as a way of ‘moving the nation forward’. During my decades in the military service — rising from ranks until I nearly awarded myself the Field-Marshall title in the twilight of my 8-year unbroken reign as the Commander-in-Chief — I had had to deal with coup matters so much that professionalism was sacrificed for ambition to flourish and for survival to be guaranteed. I come before you today as a private citizen, a fellow citizen like you who have had the time to reflect on the past and come to the conclusion that only Allah remains the master of our destiny, the owner of life!
You would recall that way back in 2007 when Olusegun Obasanjo was contemplating a third-term presidential gambit I was one of those that worked underground to thwart that venture. As soon as that unconstitutional bid was killed in the Senate I made my intention known of contesting for the presidency believing myself eminently qualified to vie for the highest position. But Obasanjo prevailed on me to back down having settled for the late Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan. I made it clear then that I was ‘stepping aside’ based on the mutual respect I had for the Yar’Adua dynasty. This time I am determined to carry this project through to its logical conclusion as situations have changed with Musa Yar’Adua joining his ancestors.
My 2011 presidential enterprise is therefore on and no one will persuade me to drop the idea of ruling this great nation again as a democratically-elected President — one that is not associated with tanks and guns. I promise imaginative presidency, one that respects democratic tenets and norms as recognised internationally. The common challenge before us, fellow Nigerians, is to confront the issues of the day head-on with honesty and courage thereby providing quality leadership to our suffering peoples. Issues like epileptic power supply, national insecurity, infrastructural decay and official graft ought to provide the basis for a new beginning, one that is championed by a trusted and tested leader like me.
Fellow compatriots, a fellow retired General of the Nigerian Army, Olusegun Obasanjo, has betrayed me again after visiting him in Ota and obtaining his support for my presidential ambition. He has since opted for a Jonathan presidency next year much like Godwin Daboh whom my friend Prof. Wole Soyinka once described as a diabolical double agent who takes money from both the living and the dead! Obasanjo and Daboh are political contractors of different world-view. While OBJ is seeking to maintain his dominance as a glorified godfather (having drafted GEJ into the presidential picture in 2007 as the late Umaru Yar’Adua’s running mate) Daboh is always ready to join the winning party, the government in power. OBJ has forgotten so soon how he was drafted into the presidential race in 1999 (fresh from prison and bankrupt) as we applied the zoning formula to smuggle him to power. He remains the greatest beneficiary of zoning thus he ought to be grateful by speaking the truth.
But I am not discouraged or disappointed by his foxy antics. OBJ is a man whose ‘Maradonic’ inclinations surpass even mine. I am used to betrayals from friends and foes alike. But it is morally unjust for anyone to argue at this point that zoning of the presidency in line with the PDP internal arrangement should be discarded just because an ‘ordained’ Saint Jonathan is in power or that the Nigerian constitution guarantees every Nigerian the right to seek the presidency. The north must produce the President next year or the PDP will risk implosion and explosion.
In Nigeria politics revolves around the incumbency factor and this I know very well having tasted power at the highest level with no David Mark or Dimeji Bankole providing any oversight functions in the National Assembly. President Jonathan is a product of our time yet it is ludicrous to equate his ascendancy to the ‘throne’ to a divine making. His name may be Goodluck but he must not stretch his luck or that of the nation too far. He is bound to fail if he ever thinks that the presidency (because he is from Niger Delta) is his birthright; or if he listens to many groups and chronic psychophants like the Ijaw elder statesman Edwin Clark earnestly asking him to contest next year’s election.
Honestly I have nothing against Jonathan as a President but I have a bone to pick with his disguised attempt to retain power next year through a manipulated poll using the PDP and its conquering machinery to his advantage. As a contender I frown at his resort to pure anti-zoning propaganda and cheap blackmail to achieve this objective. It is my belief that in a free and fair presidential contest I will beat Jonathan anytime anywhere! So that is why Babangida is the issue in Nigeria’s politics and Jonathan knows it. By the grace of Allah I intend to run and not run away this time! Even if my dear wife Maryam is no longer here to provide crucial support I intend to surge ahead invoking her spirit to see me through. Jonathan can have a Patience as wife but my Maryam is still with me in spirit.
In Ibadan I have taken over the redoubtable political machinery of the late Lamidi Adedibu, a well-oiled political structure that will help me crack the Abiola/June 12 riddle in Yorubaland. Prominent monarchs like the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuade, has promised me their unflinching support. In the South-east of Igboland the youths are routing for me and the elders (including Ikemba Ojukwu) are on my side. In the north I enjoy a broad support among the population. In Benin City from the Comrade-Governor to the ‘Okadaman’ on the street the name IBB is a household name. My popularity in Nigeria is not in doubt but my major concern is about the PDP zoning arrangement which the likes of Okwesilieze Nwodo and Solomon Lar want us to discard in order to favour Jonathan.
Fellow compatriots I do know I have wronged some of you in the past through my deeds and actions as the Head of State. The June 12 crisis and the MKO Abiola saga represents the greatest ‘sin’ I committed against the Nigerian nation. For this I say sorry, yes I am sorry for annulling the June 12 election widely believed to have been free and fair and convincingly won by the late Abiola. I am feeling remorseful of course but the truth remains that that very decision was imposed on me by my fellow Generals led by the late Sani Abacha. If I had not annulled that election Abacha and his gang would have killed me! The late Sani was desperate to become the Head of State and he was ready to subdue any opposition to that ambition. My hold on the army was slipping away in 1993 and I had to save my head by heading towards the Minna Hill-top Mansion as an ING led by Shonekan was hurriedly assembled and put in place.
Concerning the late veteran investigative journalist Dele Giwa I must confess that his assassination remains a tragic incident I regret even today. But if I had not eliminated him the way I did with the help of Togun and Akilu via a well-packaged and delivered parcel bomb he would have revealed my narco dealings and that could have exposed me and my family to international ridicule and sanction. So I had to silence him in order to preserve my honour which Dele was hell-bent on rubbishing. Gloria Okon was happy as the news went round that Giwa was gone and business went on. May his soul rest in peace! But killing of journalists or kidnapping them never stopped with the Giwa murder you will agree with me. Now it has become worse.
As I had said before I am the most investigated former Head of State in Nigerian history but at the end of the day after accusations and counter-accusations of high-wire corruption from certain quarters no one has come up with proof of my involvement. The issue of the 12 billion dollars Gulf War oil windfall and the Okigbo Pan
el that ‘indicted’ me would be addressed here forthwith if only to put the records straight. The fund was of course realised but the government of the day which I led used same judiciously on projects and other administrative needs. I need not enumerate here how we disbursed the money but I never embezzled it as the opposition and human rights groups are alleging. Though I recognise that there were certain lapses and undocumented frivolous expenditures the fund could be accounted for.
Some people are saying that under my regime corruption was institutionalised and settlement syndrome established to pacify the opposition but that is not true. Even though my administration was not immuned to corruption like those before our intervention in 1985 what we witnessed in OBJ’s eight odd years in power and even now makes whatever we took in the course of providing leadership pale into insignificance. If a state Governor like James Ibori could be accused of stealing billions of naira then one wonders how much more Obasanjo could have pocketed in the failed independent power project or in the Transcorp scam. What I am saying in essence is that our country is bleeding out of massive graft and politicians of today have devised many strategies to siphon funds without the EFCC detecting. So in comparative analysis corruption has crippled the nation and it has gotten worse seventeen years after our disengagement.
My second coming will definitely usher in a new era of political democratic engineering that will have a rapid knock-on effects on three critical areas of our diminishing national life: power generation and distribution, infrastructural development and sharp improvement in internal security mechanisms. To overcome the prevailing darkness in our lives my first assignment in power will be to go after the powerful mafia at the centre of our electricity woes; crushing them becomes a priority if power must be restored to the poor who cannot afford to join the generator bandwagon. I dare assure you, dear compatriots, that heads will roll and evil profiteering alliances broken in the process of establishing order in the power sector. Remember fear is not part of my attributes, so be rest assured that we shall defeat the enemies within the NNPC and PHCN.
I do agree with critics and cynics that Nigeria is at cross-roads; this is not what we had hoped for as we beat our hasty retreat many years ago. Though I bear some responsibility in the prevailing generalised rot in the system our time was relatively different than now; there was MAMSER, DFFRI, FRSC, Option A4 and other sound programmes aimed at striking positively at the heart of the nation’s developmental needs. My sympathy goes to the youths who due to lack of viable economic engagements have taken to armed robbery, kidnapping and other vices. I intend to engage them fully as I democratically take power at the centre. There will be massive employment drive and economic self-realisation schemes aimed primarily at keeping the youths occupied and away from crime. There will be sound conducive academic environment since education remains the vital key to national socio-economic re-birth.
Fellow Nigerians I pledge to serve you all this time if you vote me to power. During my eight-year stint in Dodan Barracks and Aso Rock Villa I never really appreciated fully what service to the people was all about. Yes I confess solemnly: what service to the people meant was alien to my understanding.You were serving me as the boss instead of the other way round. I have now learnt my lessons and promise quality service to the fatherland. As I will be officially launching my presidential campaign very soon in the South West I call for your prayers and support so that together we can move the Nigerian mountain and achieve the hitherto unachievable. The faith and hope are there, join me so that we can make things happen again — quite unlike before!
I believe patriotically that the national ingredients for greatness are within our reach and the possibilities within the Nigerian enterprise despite the huge challenges are quite striking; so making Nigeria great by the combined efforts of our people in diverse fields of endeavour is a task that must be done!
May Allah (or God) bless you all. I shall be writing you again in the course of time. Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria!
Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (GCFR)
Evil Genius, Maradona, IBB