- Category: POLITICS
- Published on Friday, 17 August 2012 13:04
- Written by Okoi Ofem Obono Obla
Today is the 71 birthday anniversary of General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida. General Babangida used to consider himself the smartest Alec in the Nigerian Political Firmament, represents the most decadent and reactionary wing of the Nigerian Political/Military Elite, whose Leadership, selfishness, short-sightedness and corruption
as a Military Potentate has reduced one of the richest countries in the world (in terms of human and natural resources) to one of the poorest in the world.
Babangida came into political and national limelight in 1976 when he was appointed a member of the Supreme Military Council constituted by General Ramat Murtala Mohammed after the military regime of General Yakubu Gowon was toppled while he (Gowon) was away in Kampala, Uganda, attending the yearly summit of the defunct Organization for African Unity (OAU) (now African Union). An opportunist, he shot himself into national consciousness when he claimed that he was the Commander that led that assault on dissent troops led by Late Colonel Dimka who had unsuccessfully attempted to topple the military regime of General Ramat Mohammed on the 13th February, 1976. The regime of General Mohammed was very nationalistic and popular because of its single-mindedness and the spirited efforts it put to further to rejuvenate the country after the government of General Gowon was sacked in a coup on the 29th July, 1975. Unfortunately, General Mohammed was killed in the failed coup led by Colonel Dimka. Babangida leaped abundantly from the myth woven around him by a section of the Lagos Press that his military brilliance and strategy was instrumental to the crushing of the coup led by Colonel Dimka.
In 1984, Babangida was appointed Chief of Army Staff in the military regime of General Muhammadu Buhari which toppled the civilian government of President Shehu Shagari on the 31st December, 1983. General Buhari, a man noted for his Spartan discipline, integrity and probity made a great effort to enforce discipline, probity and integrity on national life in the country but this was frustrated by some reactionary Army Officers led by Babangida. In August, 1985, the most corrupt and reactionary and retrogressive wing of the Nigerian Military succeeded in wrestling power from General Buhari. This was the beginning of the decline of Nigeria.
Babangida's government which was in power for Eight Years (1985-1993) was an unmitigated disaster. It institutionalized corruption, graft and indiscipline. It introduced the word 'settlement'' into Nigerian Political Lexicon. Settlement is a euphemism for grand corruption of cohorts, associates, officials of the government and it was used as a weapon to induce and blackmail opponents of government. Babangida was noted for his shifty, dodgy predilection towards officialdom and government business. He was the master of duplicity.
He seems to be a good student of the Italian Political Sociologist, Vilfredo Pareto (1848-1923) who propounded the theory that a leader must combine the qualities of both a lion and fox. A leader must adopt the stick and carrot methodology and perspective towards governance to enable him hold his people together and demand blind loyalty from them. Babangida used this theory effectively and efficiently to establish the most despicable military dictatorship in Nigeria so much so that at a point he nursed the idea of transmutation to a Civilian President after Romanizing as a ''Military President'' for eight years. Babangida's foxy approach to government and leadership laid the seed for the practice of government employing lies and duplicity to deceive the populace, which has become a hall mark of state craftsmanship in Nigeria.
Babangida’s Human Rights record was appalling. Many media establishments were closed down for being critical of his regime. Prominent lawyers, journalists and pro-democracy activists were clamped into detention without trial. Numerous draconian decrees which violated basic freedom of the citizenry were enacted. Hundreds of Military Officers were executed on allegation of involvement in phantom coups. The economic policies of the regime (especially the Structural Adjustment Programme) obviously introduced to pander to foreign interest, was ill-digested and a complete flop. It laid the seed for the economic collapse of the country. In 1986, one of the brightest Journalists of his generation in the Country, Dele Giwa, was bombed by suspected agents of the Babangida regime. It is widely believed that Dele Giwa was working on a story which would have exposed the mindless corruption in government before he was brutally and dastardly killed.
To crown it all Babangida without any qualms cancelled the freest and fairest election in the political history of Nigeria (won incidentally by his friend MKO Abiola) on the 12th June, 1993. The cancellation of this election plunged the country into a crisis which she is yet to recover. The election was held after a lot of procrastination by Babangida, so much so that it was clear that the Man did not want to leave power.
This is the man who wanted to be Nigerian President Come 2011. But was outsmarted by President Jonathan. General Babangida decidedly belongs to the Old School. He has been involved in virtually all the governments in Nigeria for nearly four decades. We need a young Nigerian who has not been polluted and corrupted by the shenanigan and deviousness of the political elite of Babangida's Generation.
Nigeria Youths must unite and deal a crushing blow to the Old regime which IBB is a personification. Time has come for a change in Nigeria. The Youths of the United States broke age long prejudices, stereotypes and racism to vote the first Black President relying solely on optimism and virility of youthfulness. We can equally do that in Nigeria. We must cast away ethnic jingoism and religious divisiveness which our bankrupt leaders have used for 50 Years to drive a wedge between us and Civilization. The country is in such a scandalously underdeveloped state that we all feel ashamed to call ourselves Nigerians when we are opportune to be outsides the shores of Nigeria. The Youths of Nigeria must ask Babangida to render account of what he did with $12 Billion Dollars that the country realised from the sale of crude oil during the First Gulf War (1991) which disappeared from the vaults of the Central Bank of Nigeria when Babangida was Nigerian Maximum Ruler.
OKOI OFEM OBONO-OBLA