By all measures, Professor Humphrey Nwosu, Babangida’s chairman of the then National Electoral Commission (NEC) is a poor salesman. My little understanding of salesmanship convinces me that the art thrives best when you have a great product to sell, an appreciative market to sell to and when you log unto the best of times when the buyer will likely buy. By trying to market the soiled and besmeared product like Ibrahim Babangida to Nigerians that are still reeling from the gargantuan damage he inflicted on the country between 1985 and 1993 on a June 12 anniversary, Nwosu’s effort remains perhaps that most disingenuous marketing stunt any salesman had attempted to pull through and it is bound to rebound on Nwosu in the years to come.
On June 12, when most Nigerians were ruing the callous and intemperate act of Babangida and his kitchen cultists to annul an election that produced a president in Chief M.K.O Abiola, Nwosu was mounting another show to tell us ”the true story of June 12”. When millions of Nigerians were taking stock of the unmitigated damage caused the country by an insensate decision of a military cabal, acting on the prompting, headship and full desire of Babangida to plunge the country into what has proved to be an intractable crisis by annulling an election, which inspite of Babangida and his expansive project to hang to power perpetually, turned out to be the freest and fairest election in Nigeria, Nwosu latched unto the nostalgic impression of that event and date to try to sell Nigerians a portion of hemlock in the guise of launching a book that explains all the shenanigans that happened on June 12 1993. I know that most Nigerians lapped unto the nectars Nwosu generously planted to hype his book with relish that at least, the principal character in the dirty act would throw more light at why the country was dashed that callous gift by the evil genius and his cult of sodomic lieutenants.
Did Nwosu disappoint Nigerians? He did so full time and proved that he was roused from his fifteen years deep sleep to re-package and market the very sly character that generated and indeed delivered that infamous act, Ibrahim Babangida. Perhaps, Nwosu thought that Nigerians locked themselves up in a poorly ventilated room for all of these fifteen years waiting for him to come and give us accurate accounts of what happened as soon as he was frightened home by the murderous goons, most of whom are today sitting pretty on our hard-earned democratic dispensation and oozing their noxious flavors to corrupt the Nigerian system. Nwosu mistook our penchant to ‘hear from the horses mouth’ for being dumb and silly and knowing nothing of the sordid intents of the vermin that prosecuted the annulment of June 12, enforced and sustained it till date and who are now ‘appealing’ to us to forget June 12 and move forward, perhaps to their haven of plunder that has now laid Nigeria prostrate. He mistook our desire to hear him to mean that we would gobble his mischievous project for the evil genius hook, line and sinker.
At the end of his fifteen-years choreographed account of what happened, we were left with a poor recitation of facts we had all known and held to be true. Facts we had been repeating for many years now and these include, that Abiola won the June 12 1993 election (is this news?), that such characters like David Mark, our perfidious Senate President, Joshua Dogonyaro, Halilu Akilu, Murtala Nyako, Clement Akpamgbo, Sani Abacha and some others played frontal roles in concocting that evil project (this has oft been repeated), that Babangida was not desirous of annulling the election (the big news indeed!), that Col. Abubakar Umar led the anti-annulment fight from within the Babangida closet (we know that already) and other irrelevant asides that do not really matter.
Of course, the real big news and I suspect, the reason why Nwosu shelled out of his cocoon was the revelation that the man that should be the chief culprit in the entire macabre act, Babangida never desired to annul the June 12 election but was prodded by a cache of the other above-mentioned characters to do so. It was for this main job that Nwosu agreed to plunge forth from his hibernation to tell Nigerians so that they should set upon every other person but Babangida for the annulment of the June 12 1993 election. I would not be surprised if the evil genius that boasted of dominating his environment for the period his tyranny lasted, did not pick the bills for Nwosu’s futile re-invention project for him. I cannot reconcile Nwosu’s latest liberty with truth and reason with the culled fellow, Babangida, whom I watched on national television on June 23 1993, while re-affirming the annulment of the June 12 election, earlier stolen into the media that day, clearly overwhelmed by drugs, boasting that he and his rampaging colleagues were not only in control of the country but really determined to deal with any opposition to the annulment.
I cannot place Nwosu’s hen-pecked master with the fellow that made a road show of his total control of his government and the country for which he bathed no eyelid levying war on hapless Nigerians country at his wills. By what he said, Nwosu was creating the impression that there were competing centers of power during Babangida’s tenure and that he was indeed, overwhelmed by the other centers, manned by his subalterns whom he hired. Nwosu was inadvertently creating the impression that Babangida was a weakling, a boneless coward and a spineless figurehead that was led by the nose by his subordinates while he pretended to be in control. But Nwosu was, at the same time, casting doubts on his intellectual depth by making such cheeky suggestion. He was demonstrating an embarrassing arid grasp of power and the variables therein by trying to present Babangida as a person on whom his appointed subordinates foisted such a dangerous and illegal project as annulling a country’s general election. We may forgive Nwosu for making these gaffes because he is a poor salesman of a rotten product and he cannot but betray the hollow contradictions that riddled his presentation. But we would never be persuaded by sparse reasoning and attempt to obfuscate facts to suit whoever pleases Nwosu.
Any person that had come of age when the infamous annulment happened knew that the project to annul the election was Babangida’s and his alone. It fits into his well-expressed desire to hang unto power by all means and remains perhaps his trump card in a seemingly cul-de-sac that transformed his transition project into an endless voyage in national foolery. For this burning hunger for perpetuity, Babangida exhausted all known tricks in the book and the annulment itself was the height of his unwillingness to vacate office even when the country had risen with one voice to demand that he must go. It is well known that Babangida sacrificed men and materials to remain in power and Nwosu belonged to his favoured kitchen cabinet that was persuaded by the messianism of their master. It may shock all to know that prior to the delivery of June 12, Nwosu played along Babangida’s wild card and it may be proper and accurate to state that June 12 was delivered despite Babangida and his fawning cult of military thugs. It was an unintended consequence of Babangida’s armoury of tricks and although Nwosu helped deliver on this historic project, it was facilitated more by Nigerians’ well-expressed desire to see to the back of this duplicitous con man and his hirelings. Nwosu never tried to tell Nigerians why he thinks that the people on whom he wants us to lay the blame for sins Babangida commandeered were more than expandable pawns on Babangida’s thriving project for unlimited power. Truth is that Babangida must have commissioned the advisory committee Nwosu talked gleefully about in his book for the sole purpose of providing him the back line to annul the June 12 election. In fact, he was the initiator, the motivator and the sustainer of the project. He birthed the project and injected it with the lifeblood with which it endured. To put it the other way, the project was Babangida and Babangida was the project because it fits into his tricky plan not to relinquish power and Nwosu had better tell his tales to the swine.
But we must understand Nwosu’s attempt to pin the sins of his master on every other person else but Babangida as part of a larger and more expansive re-invention project the evil mind has been sponsoring since he left power. That these projects have ill-availed him in the past is not a discouragement to try harder and the frenzy has been well raved up in recent times. I hear that there is a serious political calculation that underpins the present frenzied attempt. The other day, he was in Abeokuta, the very hometown of Abiola to settle a trivial quarrel between the state governor and his house. It was during this trip that a traditional ruler issued him an exculpation for the sins he had committed against Yoruba people (remember the Ooni’s ‘Babangida was talking sense’ gaffe in the heat of the June 12 crisis in 1993). He had been gallivanting all over the federation, feeling good and demonstrating an acted bohemian mien, all in the calculation that someday, somehow, this country would come round to accept being infected by the obnoxious Babangida nuisance again. As an incurable optimist in the staying power of his negative values, he would never cease to believe that a country that was made to bear the tragic pestilence of his eight years misrule, Abacha’s five years disaster and Obasanjo’s eight years curse will come round to accept that the evil genius is the only one that can rule this raped and despoiled country.
But I believe the resurgence of the agitation for June 12, as witnessed in the elaborate and widespread celebration of this year’s anniversary, must have convinced people like Nwosu and those for whom he runs his present project that Nigerians are not detained by their convenience. It must convince them that from the dying twigs of our nationhood, a newer movement that will ill-tolerate the tricks and pranks of the country’s ruling class may be springing up. But it is debatable whether the Babangidas and their sales agents would have had the moral ground to morph and liberalize their nuisance values were Obasanjo not the unmitigated disaster he was in eight years of unprecedented waste. It is debatable whether the troika of Babangida, Buhari and Abdulsalami Abubakar would insult us with the recent suggestion of Abacha saintlihood were Obasanjo not the woeful failure he was in the last eight years. In the failure of the self-crowned messiah lies the present desperate and well orchestrated campaign for Babangida and his soulmates for re-invention. Nwosu’s was just one of those projects factored on the reasoning that Nigeria would forever remain a rolling ball, at the feet of its most callous offspring and the game is for its most soiled remnants like Babangida, Abubakar and Obasanjo alone.