Former Military dictator General Ibrahim Babangida (IBB) who some people call Maradona or but he preferred to be called the Evil Genius has finally declared his intention to run for the office of President in the next general elections. According to him, Nigeria is in ruins and disrepair and he verily believes that he has the capacity to repair or fix it. If the speech that I read is representative of his entire beliefs then he is saying that he is the only one that can repair Nigeria. With the exit of the Military and the advent of democracy, many Nigerians had hoped that things would be better for Nigeria, but according to him, Nigerians are greatly disappointed in President Olusegun Obasanjo as he has failed them and dashed their hope of a quick and accelerated economic development.
Babangida did not explain the yardstick he used in measuring President Obasanjo’s performance and the peoples’ assessment of it. I have the feeling that he based his views entirely on the summation of his admirers and sycophants who are gearing up to climb on his back to return to power and affluence. Without any caution, he seems to have taken their flattery for the people’s voice, but I certain that the instant response to his declaration must have driven home the fact that he must have ignored many pertinent issues in his comeback bid. He probably must be chiding those who hurried him to make the hasty declaration. Agreed he had since 1999 made it clear that the only reason why he kept off the political arena was to avoid collusion with President Obasanjo. He had said that until President Obasanjo declares Aso Rock vacant, he was not going to participate in any election. That was wise and commendable. After ruling Nigeria for that long through the instrumentality of force, and after plunging the nation into one of its severest political turmoils on account of his annulment of the June 12, 1993 elections, an election Nigerians considered as the most transparent and freest, commonsense would have advised him against taking on an incumbent as ruthless as President Obasanjo.
But by thinking that the only bar he has on his desire to return to the Aso Rock bunker, is President Obasanjo, he made an unpardonable error that he would live to regret for the rest of his life. An average thinking person would have known that his past is in essence his path to Aso Rock. What I mean here is that it is his past that will determine or sealhis political fate. If Obasanjo is a factor in his bid for the Presidency, I consider his past a more critical factor. There is no way he can avoid his past. Already, many issues have rightly come up that will or should engage him. The issue of the killing of his bosom friend, Mamman Vatsa, is making the headlines now, but that issue may not be as telling on him as the allegation that he killed Dale Giwa. The Press may not forgive a man they consider as the killer of one of their own, especially when he ignored the opportunity to dispel the allegation at the Oputa Panel. His spite for the Oputa Panel is in itself an issue on its own and belief that many people went away with is that his rush for judicial protection was an indication of guilt. The Panel was to my mind a beautiful opportunity that he bungled.
The most critical issue in the ambition of IBB is about how he can reconcile his ambition of wanting to get to the Presidency through the electoral process with the general view that he personified the Military’s disdain for the electoral process. It would take and in fact IBB would establish the greatest wonder on earth if he is able to get the forgiveness of Nigerians over his role in the June 12 calamity and get elected as the democratic Executive President of this country. I imagine that those who risked the elements and went out to vote in the historic June 12 elections are still around and would constitute a sizeable number of those that would vote in the forth coming general elections. The children and perhaps the grandchildren of those unfortunate June 12, 1993 electorate would be part of the electorate in the elections that IBB intends to use to return to Aso Rock.
IBB is said to be a very perceptive and cautions person. The way he carried himself over the years support these characteristics, but his decision to return to the political fray betrays some failings that history had kept away from the generality of us. Many people are of the view that the searchlight placed on his son and perhaps his own protégées is to scare him away from the political process, but I have a different view. If for anything I think President Obasanjo is earnestly trying to shore up sympathy for him. Without the scandals of his son and the rumours about his huge investments through fronts, IBB is politically worse off. Without any rigorous thinking, it is easy to tell why IBB can never see the four walls of Aso Rock again.
IBB personified the ugly history of this country. Military adventurism, Political and economic corruption would be nothing more or less than IBB if they were to be human .IBB is the most celebrated military adventurer that this country has ever produced. He features prominently on all the annals of coups in this country. At the twilight of his military career he presided over the regime that ruined the moral fabric of this country. He institutionalised opportunism and corruption. If Nigeria is grappling today with moral crisis it is because of IBB.It was the era of IBB and his fellow adventurers that this country lost all of its glorious past. All institutions and infrastructures of the state were destroyed by IBB and his ilk.
The most singular problem that Nigeria has had to grapple with since the inception of this republic is the issue of what socioeconomic path it should take to fast track the need to return the country to the path of sustained growth and development. The country is yet to build and sustained firm democratic structures and developmental morals due to the military mindset of the generality of the political actors. An IBB Presidency would be a disservice to civilisation and the global effort to win Africa away from its dictatorial past. The outside world would not take Nigeria very seriously if it failed or refuses to breakaway from its sorrowful past. IBB represents that past and if I were him I would spare this country the misfortune and pains of bringing back the ugly pictures of its socio-political past.
If I were IBB I would have gone into self redeeming endeavours. I would have worked earnestly to express penitence and remorse. I would have saved my old life the odium and ridicule that an attempt at the presidency would bring. I would have surrendered some of my ill-gotten acquisitions to the state and cooperate with the EFCC in its efforts to end the culture of graft and impunity.