Let me state upfront that I admire Ibrahim Badamaci Babangida in some ways, especially his studied silence after his inglorious exit from power in 1993. I am quite aware of the scornful remarks this admiration will earn me irrespective of the fact that the constitution of Nigeria and the universal declaration of human rights grant me the right to hold such private opinion.

Since am, not here to market Babangida, kindly allow me the luxury to enjoy in solitude the joys and pains inherent in this my misadventure of admiring someone many would love to hate.

 Babangida is a man who before now, did not talk much and anyone who does not talk much even in a beer parlor pseudo-intellectual arguments has a way of looking wise. Babangida, like his late bosom friend, Gen. Sani Abacha elevated ‘taciturn diplomacy’ to statecraft.  They were men that negotiated with the power of silence. Many have therefore come to regard them as smart, wise and sometimes even intelligent. While Abacha went to the grave with that reputation intact, IBB, by his recent reactions and pronouncements, is not likely to sustain that myth. 

Since he declared his intention to rule Nigeria again as a bona fide Prince of one of the ruling Houses in Nigeria, he has abandoned that self-saving lifeline of taciturn diplomacy for loquaciousness.  IBB has been talking and each time he opens his mouth these days, he pours out a load of rubbish. As a confessed admirer, I was ready to make excuses for him knowing that democracy and soliciting for votes from ordinary people could be quite humbling. However, IBB in the last few months since he declared his intention to colonize Nigeria again, has proven beyond all reasonable doubts that the difference between seizing power with armored tanks and through elective route is almost equal to the difference between day and night. In the later dispensation, he has remained consistently incoherent, un-inspiring, downright abusive and largely un-convincing. I must state early that initially, I had thought his declaration was a decoy {perhaps, I still do} to ensure that his political enemies: Buhari and Atiku do not stray back into the Aso-Rock kingdom. These believe arose because of the fact that if zoning is strictly followed as presently constituted and one them finds his way back to power, IBB will never enjoy the remaining part of his retirement. This is a little discomfort he could possibly stop by presenting himself as a candidate early enough to block the chances of duo.

If this were his original thinking, he is well in order because self-preservation is the first law of nature. However, as observed above, his utterances in the last few months points to the fact that IBB did not only tell Nigerians lies, but he is unfortunately beginning to believe his own lies. How else can one explain the fact that one of his reasons to get back to power is to ensure true federalism. When challenged whether a younger person {perhaps his son Mohammed Babangida} was not in a better positioned to do that, he said that young people are not knowledgeable enough to steer the ship of Nation to safety. One may excuse that paroxysm coming from a former armored General given his background of a command structure but how does one excuse the fact that he was tactfully deficient to the extent of insulting  the very youths  whose vote are crucial to his ambition. A silly but funny answer like “am also a youth” could have served him better.

 

However, of all the un-coordinated reasons he has given for his come back bid, the most insulting and inciting remained the one targeted to cause disaffection between the Igbos and their South-South neighbors in Thisday newspaper of August 12 2011 on page {3} three titled “IBB: I’ Do Only One Term” . I have chosen to confront this apparent subterfuge, first as an Igbo man and secondly to put the Babangida ranting into historical perspective. In the said publication, IBB had said that he would not seek a second term in office as President if elected in 2011. The question that arises from this is “kini big deal”. Are we supposed to give him a standing ovation for this favor? If IBB had stopped at this, this rejoinder would not have been necessary.  He went further to say that “ after one-term in 2011, it would be his desire to see that power moves from the North to the South-East to demonstrate the full integration of the Igbo into the mainstream of the country, pointing out that, that is the only way to put an end completely to the 30 months civil war”. This statement, I find insulting, inciting and un-becoming of a man that would rather we see him as a Statesman.

 

To be sure, the relationship between the two neighbors has been anything but cordial. The perennial suspicion among these brothers that share relatively same challenges, which in most part is unfounded, has been exploited greatly to their mutual disadvantage by the more astute political players from the far North. It is this tired outrageous anger and suspicion between them that IBB is now stoking for personal gains. As Igbos, we need to ask IBB some pertinent questions before jumping into bed with him unprotected. First, IBB was in absolute power for eight solid years, why has he just come to this realization in 2010 when he is no longer in a position to influence anything in a democratic setting. IBB has promised to hand over to an Igbo man in 2015 after he has finished a one-term presidency. The question to ask is; is the presidency his birthright? Is it not obvious by the statement that the man is still suffering from a military affliction of “I will hand over to XYZ” as if the rest of the people are just the rubber stamp they have reduced us. This kind of mindsets sentenced us to this state of motion without movement.

IBB also stated that his quest to return to power is primarily to restore equity, justice and fair play. This to me is the most insulting of all the reasons he has advanced for this miss-adventure. Equity, justice and fair play have since assumed a new meaning in the context of Nigeria’s complex power play. The North have held power for 38 years of the 50 years of Nigeria’s corporate existence out of which IBB has occupied the highest position of the land for 8 unbroken years and wants it back badly because he sees himself as a special gift to Nigeria. To IBB, that is equitable.

 

 The South/South has never occupied that position ever until province pronounced Jonathan President a few months ago, IBB, and his co-conspirators are saying who the-hell-is this providence that wants to dictate to us when it is not a member of PDP. To IBB, that is the new meaning of justice. The South/South produces the wealth that makes everybody want to lay claim to Nigeria and the entire South/South is worst than Afghanistan infrastructure wise and to IBB that is the new meaning of fair play. 

 

What is the response of the Igbos’? We have told IBB and all those that think like him that the Igbos’ have a history of not supporting injustice, inequity and lack of fairness. That we acknowledge the self-evident truth that we have not been admitted back to the union, 40 years after the massacre. That we waited for IBB a not too distant in-law to do that during his reign as the emperor of Nigeria but alas, he looked the other way only to come back now to remind us of that ugly past. That IBB by his own admission in a recent interview said that he ensured that power moved to South-West, Abeokuta in particular to Obasanjo as compensation for the brutal annulment of June 12, 1993 election won by MKO Abiola. He conveniently forgot that he had to rob Dr. Alex Ekwueme in 1998, an eminently qualified Igbo man to pay Obasanjo and we ask which of the injustices happened first-the massacre of over a million Igbos in the name of un-civil war or the senseless annulment of a freely contested and won election in 1993. We also ask how Jonathan’s or any other South/South presidency for that matter forecloses the Igbos from demanding what is rightly theirs. Is one opposing the other? IBB, Buhari and all other coup-plotters are not only enjoying pension at our expense after their violent violation of the constitution, they also want to remind us of our collective amnesia by standing by and watch them have a free run at us once again albeit democratically. 

 

The zoning argument has been anything but objective. Yes, I believe in zoning as one of the short-term measures to address a crippling ethnocentric society like Nigeria. The long-term measure remains devolution of powers and true federalism, which for reasons of Sweet-Bonny-light, no one is eager to discuss. The zoning debate has been deliberately contrived to suggest that Nigeria’s corporate existence and need for equity, justice and fair play started in 1999 when some Northerners constantly try to remind us about their magnanimity in conceding power to the South-West. 

 

Nothing could be more emotionally sapping and challenging than this claim. 

 

For us to achieve a semblance of equitable union rooted in justice and fair play there must be an un-conditional mutual respect among the federating units of this country. The mere tokenism and talking down on others which IBB epitomizes in his speeches and actions are capable of eroding whatever little quantum leap we have made in the process of Nation building this past years.

 

May we therefore remind IBB again in clear terms that insulting the Igbos in the name of this unsolicited tokenism will not guarantee him Igbo votes anywhere we are in this country? We may appear subdued, meek and helpless today, but let no IBB try to remind us of this consistent cry of persecution complex he helped subject us. We have decided as children of God to take our faith in our hands and it is our solemn hope that at the right time, history and God will be on our side to lay ambush on the conscience of this Nation to do that, which is just.

CHIKE ORJIAKO.

[email protected]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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