Certainly, former military president, General Ibrahim Babangida (rtd), has lately been stung by the talking bug and has, indeed, been talking bug, regaling Nigerians with his “Maradonic” missteps while his nine-year dictatorship lasted. His recent 80th birthday celebrations provided him the best platform to once again revel in his past leadership, which has left so much to be desired!
No wonder the evil genius noted for the singular unpopularity of annulling Nigeria’s freest and fairest election in 1993 has continued to put up feeble arguments on his albatross – the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election – a tragedy which forced his hurried departure from government and has continued to dog every of his footsteps even out of office. Unfortunately for IBB, he has since consistently missed it. If one may ask the Maradona, can the ripple effects of his years of misrule be divorced from the current stark reality of life in Nigeria? Of course not totally!
It is clear that any pretence that the evil genius’ statements are for Nigeria’s unity, being an elder statesman, would amount to an insult to the rest of us who he believes might not be as intelligent as he wrongly thinks he is, but who are smart enough to understand what his “stepping aside” in August 1993 and his prescription of the qualities that Nigeria’s next president should have, mean.
The appallingly terrible socio-political, economic and security situation in Nigeria gives room to the likes of IBB, a former military dictator, to pontificate on the qualities that presidential candidates for 2023 elections should possess – a decision that he and the current political class should allow majority of Nigerians to worry their heads about. To many Nigerians, from IBB’s antecedents, his judgment on such an issue remains essentially warped, self-serving and self-seeking – mere propaganda.
The fact remains that IBB only left hapless Nigerians at the sharp end of his doomed political and economic experiments when he eventually ‘stepped aside’ from power without any admission of error, offer of apology or acceptance of responsibility. Nigerians still suffer from and worry about the consequences of IBB’s actions and inactions – his cold and steely realpolitik. This is why his utterances will often be met with a chorus of derision and public fury.
His unabashed prescription, of course, has triggered the anger of many Nigerians who are of the view that remorseless IBB should cover his face in shame for emasculating and almost incinerating democracy in Nigeria with the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election freely won by Chief MKO Abiola. Isn’t it then ridiculous that the former military president still has the nerves to magisterially make a pronouncement on who should be Nigeria’s next president?
The saga that was IBB’s reign in Nigeria has no doubt left a sour taste in the mouth of everyone from the rich to the poor, from the royalty to the political class and to the commoner. The squandermania and rapacity unleashed upon the country during his administration’s shifty and unending political transition programmes as well as his failure to account for the oil windfall that accrued to Nigeria under him, have remained etched in the memory of Nigerians so much so that they wish he shouldn’t be a million feet near any discussion on such a delicate subject as the country’s democratic experiment, nay the 2023 presidency.
We all still remember vividly how his military administration drastically cut down the strength and even debilitated the country’s Armed Forces for his own selfish interests. The country’s military has yet to recover from the negative effects of his missteps, what with the worsening insecurity that has continued to defy whatever ingenuity is left for that battered national institution.
The fact remains that IBB only left hapless Nigerians at the sharp end of his doomed political and economic experiments, when he eventually ‘stepped aside’ from power without any admission of error, offer of apology or acceptance of responsibility. Nigerians still suffer from and worry about the consequences of IBB’s actions and inactions – his cold and steely realpolitik. This is why his utterances will often be met with a chorus of derision and public fury.
So, to many Nigerians, any recommendation from the “evil genius” should not be touched with a 10-foot pole. He lacks the moral standing to make any prescription for Nigeria’s democracy, which he laboured ceaselessly to extirpate while he held the reins of governance as military president. His suggestions on tackling the worsening insecurity in the country, which his state of Niger has been a major victim of, would have been better appreciated at no other time than now.
Infact, as far as many Nigerians who witnessed the political debacle foisted on Nigerians by IBB in 1993 are concerned, for disrespecting the wishes of Nigerians as expressed on June 12, his prescriptions on Nigeria’s next president should be flung out the window.
IBB’s self-righteous concerns about 2023, one is tempted to believe, have more to do with power – retaining his godfather role – than the Nigerian people.
Why is IBB suddenly interested in prescribing qualities for those jostling to be Nigeria’s president in 2023? IBB can continue to carry on without any care about the damage he has done to Nigeria’s democracy, but methinks he would do better to show remorse and seek forgiveness from Nigerians as he joins the Octogenarian club.
For those Nigerians who were victims of his Maradonic subterfuges in the slyly unstable politics that characterised his tenure, the outcomes were soul-destroying. Unfortunately, IBB still relishes being reminded that he has a moral duty to speak up on June 12. But since he’s not interested in atoning for his sins, the only thing IBB owes Nigerians now is to shut his trap and maintain permanent silence rather than continuing to make imbecilic, tragic and unnecessary statements, insulting the intelligence of the rest of the country.
Postscript: With the Tuesday early morning attack by bandits on the once impregnable Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), Kaduna, certainly, the chicken has come home to roost and the perennial insecurity bedevilling the country has gone full circle. The hunter has now switched position with the hunted! This is unthinkable! It is now manifestly clear that not even those holed up in military barracks are protected from attacks by terrorists the authorities have continued to euphemistically label “bandits,” for whatever reason.
The times are indeed getting more dangerous for all Nigerians. Are we not already threading the path to Afghanistan? Let’s hope Tuesday’s “compromise of the security architecture of the NDA” will be the wake-up call the Federal Government and the Nigerian Armed Forces have been waiting for to intensify the war against terrorism in the country with a view to exterminating the bandits and insurgents that have for decades been ravaging various parts of the country.
The terrorists have poked their finger in the eye of the lion and they must be mauled! Is the President and the Military high command listening?