Skip to main content

Prove Babangida Wrong

April 17, 2010

In an interview with ThisDay, Ibrahim Babangida said he is running for President in 2011 because the next generation is incapable of managing the country. The former dictator said: "Because we have seen signs that they are not capable of leading this country and so we feel we should help them.  May be they are not given the proper education that is why."

In an interview with ThisDay, Ibrahim Babangida said he is running for President in 2011 because the next generation is incapable of managing the country. The former dictator said: "Because we have seen signs that they are not capable of leading this country and so we feel we should help them.  May be they are not given the proper education that is why."
If we are to take what the retired general says at face value, the first question that should be asked is "in what country was this generation educated?" If in Nigeria, the next question is "who was running the country and its educational system at the time?" Can a man who ruled this nation from 1985 to 1993, a period during which any Nigerian between the ages of 20 and 45 passed through SOME school, cast aspersions on our education without indirectly attacking himself? Was General Babangida not the one in charge as our Universities lurched from crisis to crisis? Was it not he who oversaw the fall of those hallowed institutions into the hands of the secret societies, and was that very rise in cult activity not a result of his governent's attempts to undermine the "radical" activism of students and lecturers? Was it not under Babangida and the economic crisis he haplessly engineered that we saw the emigration of lecturers, teachers, doctors, engineers and other professionals to greener pastures abroad? So is General Babangida now saying that he should lead the country because he helped impair the younger generation's ability to do so?

The General continues: " a country like Nigeria cannot be ruled by people without experience." He gives the example of Obama in the USA, who he points out climbed up the political ladder, from state legislature all the way to the Presidency, gaining experience as he went. "If our youths are like this," he posits,  "we will say they have the requisite experience. But we have not reached that level."

 And whose fault is that, General? In order for people to get the kind of experience IBB describes, those political posts must be available. IBB, it must be said, ushered in the Third Republic, and for about a half-decade Nigerians had the chance to "play politics", election after election, all the executive and legislative posts were filled incrementally from the ward level, up to LGA and State. This progress of course came to a halt when a certain someone decided to annul a perfectly good presidential election, leave the transition in limbo, and hand over power to a weak, unelected and unpopular civilian government, perfect prey for an Abacha coup. From 1993 to 1998 there was no TRUE democracy. Five years of wasted continuity. And who was that certain someone who annulled the elections and left the Third Republic to its fate? General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida.

 If the new generation lacks leadership experience, General Babangida is partly to blame. However, the argument itself does not hold water. The irony is lost on the General that the very Obama he uses as an example was criticized by all his opponents in the lead-up to the American elections for his lack of experience. That is the old saw that ancient politicians always use against the new breed. Mr Obama's response was always to point out that experience is no substitute for good judgment - to put it in Nigerian terms "the wisdom of Solomon has nothing to do with the age of Methuselah. IBB, the Methuselah par-excellence of Nigerian politics - proves this point to a tee. He has repeatedly exercised extremely poor judgment both in and out of power. Shall we highlight some of his goofs?

-Giving his personal endorsement for the now-AWOL President Yar'Adua, a man he knew to be extremely ill, since he knew him personally.
-Annulling the June 12th 1993 elections, and then handing over power to an impotent Ernest Shonekan.
-Mismanaging the Gulf War oil windfall.
-Killing Vatsa.
-Allowing his administration to repeatedly detain Messrs Gani Fawehinmi and Ken Saro-Wiwa for no discernible offense.
-The Dele Giwa fiasco.
-The stalled Ajaokuta Steel Mills
-Implementing 6-3-3-4, and putting Nigeria's school system out of synch with most of the English speaking world.
-Welcoming Blaise Campaore after the assassination of Sankara.
-Comijng to power via military coup with a promise to hand over to a democratically elected government, which he then failed to do.

Experienced? Sure. Wise? Debatable. That a man who left office under a cloud, with Nigeria's economy worse than he found it, can decide to run for election is a matter of nerve. For him to feel comfortable insulting a whole generation of Nigerians is a matter of gall. It speaks volumes about the lack of respect he has for the average Nigerian's intelligence, self-respect and bravery that he would dare make this statement. And he just about admits this in another comment: " I have spent 17 years since I left office. 
Haba! The younger generation is supposed to be in charge by now." Very true, General. The halls of power should have fewer "old faces" in them right now. FOr a multitude of reasons, younger Nigerians have allowed the very same people who destroyed the country to remain in power. IBB sees this, and has decided that if we cannot oust his cronies, stooges and forebears, then he can surely impose himself on us with little resistance. My fellow Nigerians, we have to prove him wrong. For the sake of our dignity, and any chance to take control of this country once and for all, we have to make a stand here today, and tell the man who said we cannot run this country, "Neither Can You".

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('content1'); });

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('content2'); });