I do acknowledge a yawning gap between the America and Nigeria that cannot be ignored or swept under the carpet. I do see, however, some striking similarities between a former President of Nigeria and the current President of the United States. Their attitude to power and how they have both managed to destroy the reputation and credibility of their two countries have become a serious cause for alarm around the world.
Donald Trump calls himself a change agent who could turn America into an Eldorado nobody has ever seen before. Ibrahim Babangida on the other hand came to office thru military coup with a promise to fundamentally make Nigeria a better country but he ended up crippling and screwing up the country beyond redemption.
Three world events inform my decision to write this article. The current investigation of the Russian hacking of American elections and the role of Donald Trump who knew he could never have been President without some covert help from the KGB and Vladimir Putin. The second event is the recent confession by an 80 year old British Intelligence Officer Mr. Hopkins who on his death bed in Britain has just confessed much to the embarrassment of the British Monarchy that he killed Princess Diana on the orders of the Royal Family. The last and not the least is the recent confession of Ibrahim Babangida about why he annulled the June 12, 1993 election of M.K.O Abiola as President of Nigeria despite all the lies he has told before.
Donald Trump is doing everything in his power to obstruct the Russian Investigation, and to stop the investigation panels from having any access to his tax returns and business and financial transactions all over the world that could very easily link him to the Russians and the Kremlin and the KGB with effortless ease. Trump is behaving like a 4th grader with no coherent strategy to get himself out of the hole he has dug himself into He has kept on digging and putting himself into more serious legal jeopardy every day.
Trump, like Babangida, passionately believes he is smarter than all of his predecessors. Trump was a product of the Watson School of Business believes he is smarter than the Harvard trained Constitutional lawyer Obama. Babangida, the last time I checked, felt the same way about Buhari the less corrupt leader he ousted in 1985.
Trump and Babangida are two birds of the same feather whose names will go down in infamy for some of the crimes they have both committed against their two countries. Donald Trump actually used Disinformation Espionage and fake News manufactured by the KGB to mislead the Obama Administration to lie low on stopping the Russian hacking of American elections before it became an inferno as confirmed by Secretary Johnson of Homeland Security. Obama did not want to be accused of being too overtly partisan in going after the Russians or openly rocking the boat at a time all the pundits and opinion polls were pointing to a Hillary land slide. That stance could be a mistake on hindsight, but it was arguably the right position to take at the time.
Babangida had pretty much used a similar strategy to mislead and deceive M.K.O Abiola and to ensure Alhaji Tofa victory in 1993 but the unexpected happened when Abiola won the election in a land slide instead. Babangida annulled the election right away by saying he was advised so to do by Obasanjo and some prominent southern politicians.
IBB has waited for nearly 25 years to tell the truth only a few days ago when he finally admitted that he annulled the election to satisfy Sani Abacha and David Mark who had their eyes on taking their turns to succeed IBB as President of Nigeria in a sequential order.
Donald Trump and Ibrahim Babangida are like Siamese twins. Their persona and modus operandi are so strikingly similar. They are both very ambitious, paranoid individuals who are prepared and willing to dine with the Devil to achieve their goal.
Donald Trump had done his homework before entering the race for President of the United States and he realized all he needed to win was to demonize his opponent and to damage her beyond redemption in few of the swing states she is supposed to win to have any chance of winning the Electoral College tally. He saw the need to collaborate with a foreign adversary but do it in such a way that even if he lost in the end, he would have made it impossible for his opponent to govern.
That was why he served notice long before the election that he would not concede defeat if he lost because it would simply mean that the election had been rigged. He flew that kite or made that bluff to micro-manage Obama from going all out to call out the Russians. He repeated the same strategy when he bluffed and lied that that a tape of the James Comey’s conversation with him in the White House would be produced at some point. It was a bogus lie told to threaten or intimidate Comey from talking too much.
Trump also made a statement that should have given everybody a pause that win or lose, that he would be the first candidate ever in the History of American Politics to make a profit out of running for President pretty much like IBB did when he became richer than the whole country and wasn’t going to voluntarily quit the presidency until he was forced out. The way Trump is going there is a slim possibility he might never leave office when his time is up. He is clearly learning the rope from Vladimir Putin who has remained in power for more than 17 years and counting.
Trump broke all the rules in the book to defeat 16 Republican candidates who were better qualified and more experienced than him by using Russian Espionage to blackmail them one by one after signing an iron-clad “quid pro quo” agreement with Vladimir Putin that would put a provision in the Republican Platform he planned to run on at the Convention in Denver. The Republican platform was to be watered down to relax or remove all the sanctions put in place by the Obama Administration against Russia for her incursions and adventures into Ukraine and the Crimea and the other Russian Republics which have since joined NATO or were on their way to doing so.
Trump was also to discredit the European Union and NATO to give Russia a fighting chance to correct some of the mistakes that heralded the dismemberment and the fall of the old Soviet Union in the name of “Perestroika.” What was mind-boggling in the whole development was the Republican inclination to go along with Donald Trump to appease or accommodate the Russians.
Governance in Nigeria and in America can be poles apart if you see what I see. What we have in Nigeria is Animal Farm compared to America where the Rule of Law is far more sacrosanct and more rigidly observed by the landlords in the White House until Donald Trump and his KGB collaborators came on board as many of the ongoing investigations would show if they are not compromised or discredited along the line by the Republicans hell-bent on saving Donald Trump.
America used to be totally different from where it is headed today under a Trump presidency. It was a country where all of the Presidents minus George Washington, the first President became President by formally running for office as a nominee of any particular Party. George Washington became President from 1789 to 1797 by acclamation and consensus rather than by formal elections like we have today when two nominees from the two dominant Parties have to lock horns or compete for the peoples’ votes.
That is why you never hear any American refer to their Party as Party of George Washington like you hear the Republican Party describe their Party as the Party of Abe Lincoln while the Democrats occasionally describe their Party as the Party of FDR.
The position of President in America carries so much prestige and dignity that most Americans expect their President to be totally above board like Caesar’s wife. It is inconceivable in times gone by to have Americans openly call their President a pathological liar like they all do now to Donald Trump with impunity.
Donald Trump was a filthy-rich Real Estate Business mogul and a cerebral public figure before he ran for the highest political office in the country. Ibrahim Babangida on the other hand had enlisted in the Military and had risen thru the ranks while actively participating in all of the Nigerian coups before the one in 1985 that saw him taking over the reins of power from General Muhammadu Buhari for more than 8 years till 1993 when he was forced by circumstances beyond his control to "voluntarily” “step aside”.
IBB inaugurated Ernest Shonekan as interim President for a few months before Sani Abacha staged his own bloodless coup to remain in power for another 5 years. Ibrahim Babangida was the first military Head of State to assume the title of executive President of Nigeria even though he was never elected. He chose to make his fellow northerner and Muslim Sani Abacha his number 2 without anyone raising a finger.
All subsequent military Presidents after him took the same title but they all tried to balance their ticket by picking their number 2 from the South if the President was from the North. General Abdulsalam Abubakar had picked Rear Admiral Okhai Mike Akhigbe, a southerner as his number 2 for one year during which they had the 1999 Nigerian Constitution put together and forced down the throat of the country without any discussion or formal ratification by the people before it was used to elect Olusegun Obasanjo from 1999 to 2007.
It is unprecedented to have any Nigerian President and any American President that behave the way that Ibrahim Babangida and Donald Trump have behaved as President. You could actually make the case from this analogy that that Donald Trump is General Babangida on steroids.
Ibrahim Babangida remains the “Fon et origo” of most the maladies and malfeasance that have held Nigeria hostage and has gotten worse ever since he left office in 1993 and never again to return. He institutionalized Corruption in Nigeria and he made sure he advanced the northern agenda far more aggressively and proactively than any other Hausa/Fulani leader in the history of Nigeria.
I.B.B defied the conventional wisdom we have grown accustomed to in Nigeria by picking the number two man in his Administration from the same zone with him. Sani Abacha from Kano was his Chief of Staff of the Supreme Military Council and his number 2. You could draw some similarity with what Trump has done by militarizing the US Government even more than Dwight Ike Eisenhower who was allied Commander in Europe before becoming President. Trump has surrounded himself with an array of Generals and he has more less turned American Government into a Monarchy while ejecting his family members into Government and doing so with impunity like no other President before him.
Ibrahim Babangida went all out to impose a northern ticket on Nigeria with the stroke of his pen. He moved very quickly to move the nation’s capital from Lagos to Abuja and he made sure that the job of Federal Territory Minister remains the exclusive preserve of the northerners. He clandestinely changed the status of Nigeria not as an observer nation in IOC but as a full-fledged member and he made sure that the oil sector of Nigeria remained firmly in the hands of northerners who became multi- millionaires at the expense of South where the oil came from.
Babangida conducted the fairest and the freest election in Nigeria by creating two Government funded political parties but he annulled the result of that election when the result did not go the way he had wanted. He introduced assassination of political enemies and suppression of freedom of the Press and Expression in Nigeria when he got Dele Giwa killed with a letter bomb to stop him from exposing his complicity in the release of Gloria Okonkwo who was publicized as having died in prison for drug pushing, but was actually released and was living comfortably in London under a false identity. Babangida incriminated his friend and classmate, General Mamman Vatsa in a phantom coup and he took him out because he saw him as a threat. Donald Trump would do the same thing in a heartbeat to anybody that got in his way.
IBB only had to worry about silencing the Newswatch and his fearless Chief Editor in Nigeria because he already had the main Media in his pocket by silencing them with bribery and corruption. Right now in Nigeria it is only Sahara Reporters News Media based outside Nigeria that is able to criticize or expose the Nigerian Government without being closed down or totally silenced by Government. The situation was worse under IBB because Sahara was not around at the time.
In America, Donald Trump had to worry not just about the Print Media like powerful New York Times and Washington Post who do their own independent investigation of any President or Government without any fear or favor. Trump has to worry about hundreds of fearless reporters across the country like many from the CNN, many from MSNBC and other powerful channels across the country which could not be silenced or muzzled by Government.
How for goodness sake can Donald Trump muzzle individuals like Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O’Donnell, Chris Matthews of MSNBC talk less of Jake Tapper, Chris Cuomo, Fareed Zakaria , Poppy Hallow to mention a few at CNN who could not be micromanaged or silence by Donald Trump?
What of honest individuals in Government like James Comey, Ms. Yates, Robert Mueller and independent-minded legislators like Lindsey Graham, John McCain, Adam Schipps, Chuck Schumer, Elijah Cummings and Dianne Feinstein to mention a few top guns on both sides of the isle who cannot be silenced or muzzled. That was why and how IBB was able to do a lot more damage to the corporate interest of Nigeria than Donald Trump could possibly do to America. Whistle blowers in America are just too many and too powerful for comfort for any dictator.
IBB got Julius Berger to build him a proto-type of the Presidential Villa at his Mountain top Estate in Minna in his preparation for his retirement. He made sure he put all his handpicked Lieutenants like Abacha, David Mark in position of power where he could continue to call the shots long after he has relinquished power. He remains a narcissist and pathological liar just like Donald Trump who would say one thing and do the exact opposite as long as the lie advances his personal agenda. Thank God for freedom of expression which is not a mere slogan in America like it is in Nigeria.
When you talk of two American Presidents who can be described as being clever by half, the two names that readily come to mind are Richard Nixon and Donald Trump and arguably Bill Clinton who technically argue he did not have sexual relations with Monika Lewinski but later had to admit on oath that he actually did with his back against the wall. He made the confession to avoid being charged for Perjury and that was how he escaped impeachment by a whisker.
Donald Trump is not going to be that lucky as the noose tightens around his neck for Obstruction of Justice and few other ethical or criminal violations in his Tax returns and other financial transactions around the world. Babangida could easily have been impeached and found guilty of obstruction of Justice because he too was being clever by half when he denied he did not kill Dele Giwa. He escaped because he was a military dictator.
Donald Trump on the other hand is now being clever by half and would surely be found guilty of Obstruction of Justice at the minimum and of perjury for lying under oath if he maintains his stand that he did not collude with Vladimir Putin to hack American elections as many proofs of that become manifest when Robert Mueller and the Congressional Committees complete their on-going investigations. Republicans would dodge and weave as they try to cover up for him but their duplicity would not work as more facts come out to nail Donald Trump. Republicans would all have to abandon his sinking boat at the last minute if the Nixon saga is anything to go by.
That Donald Trump took a decision to fire James Comey to relieve any pressure on him on the Russian investigation which he admitted on Television and to a delegation of Russians during their visit to him at the Oval Office are definite proofs of Obstruction of Justice that cannot be wished away.
That Donald is now on record to have threatened James Comey that there were tapes that could invalidate his evidence before the Congressional committees is another proof of Obstruction of Justice and intent. That he now wants to blackmail Robert Mueller preparatory to firing him if necessary is another obstruction of Justice. Trump is desperately trying to tarnish or rubbish his Robert Mueller and to discredit his report ahead of time. That Donald Trump now wants to shift the blame to Obama by asking why Obama did not do something to stop the Russians is not only a diversionary tactic, but another proof of Obstruction of justice to derail the ongoing investigation of him and his campaign team.
The truth is that Obama did a lot to register his disapproval of what the Russians did and to prevent a reoccurrence. It is Donald Trump who has done nothing to follow up on what Obama has in fact started in the last few weeks of his presidency. It is nobody but Donald Trump who has been bending over backwards to defend and protect the Russians and to stop the investigation of Russia from going forward.
A “prima facie” case of Obstruction of Justice and Perjury have long been made against Trump, if you see what I see. There is no way Donald Trump can dodge the bullet or escape the long hands of the Law in a country governed by the rule of Law.
I rest my case.