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My Case Against Babangida

July 3, 2010

"...Fellow Nigerians , this country has had since independendence a history mixed with turbulence and fortune . We have witnessed our rise to greatness , followed with a decline to the state of bewildered nation . Our human potentials have been neglected , our natural resources put to waste . A phenomenon of constant insecurity and overberaing uncertainty has become characteristic of our national existence .

Image removed."...Fellow Nigerians , this country has had since independendence a history mixed with turbulence and fortune . We have witnessed our rise to greatness , followed with a decline to the state of bewildered nation . Our human potentials have been neglected , our natural resources put to waste . A phenomenon of constant insecurity and overberaing uncertainty has become characteristic of our national existence .
My colleagues and I are determined to unite this country . We shall not allow anything to obstruct us . We recognize that a government , be it civilian or military , needs the consent of the people to govern if it to reach it's objective . We do not intend to rule by force . At the same time , we should not be expected to submit to unreasonable demands . Fundamental rights and civil liberyies will be respected , but their exercise must not degenerate into irrational expression , nor border on subversion.......' Ibrahim B. Babangida , August 27 1985 .
A few weeks ago , I was invited by a mutual friend to attend a reception for a visiting IBB agent in New Jersey . I politely declined the invitation . My friend knows , I am no fan of IBB , yet he extended that invitation . And just last week , in Westchester County New York , I was again in the mist of IBB apologists . These are people that I respect with high regards . Most have been friends with me for years . But on the question of Ibrahim Babangida for President - again, I have become something of a pariah among them . We have debated the emergence of Babngida-for-president in 2007 , and they failed then to give me a compelling reason why this man is so important , and now so god-sent , that Nigerians should ( in their view ) return him to power . Here , in a second essay on this subject , I lay my case against Babangida for President of Nigeria - Again .
Ibrahim Badamosi Babngida or IBB , was a general in the Nigerian Army and he is a man who always seems to be at the center of every action . In 1975 , he and his fellow officers ousted General Yakubu Gowon , who had taken power soon after the outbreak of the bloody four-year civil war . The following year , an " unarmed " Babangida confronted rebellious army officers in Lagos during an attempted coup and persuaded them to surrender . It was he too , who master-minded the coup that , on the last day of 1983, toppled Shehu Shagari , the civilian President whose timid acceptance of endemic corruption , in the mist of poverty , had helped plug Nigeria into a still continuing spiral of , well , poverty . By 1985 , he took the prize for himself , in a carefully planned coup . He installed himself as the president . He was forced out of power following the most outrageous political crime ever perpetrated by a leader on his people - The RIGHT to chose who governs them . Annulment is obnoxious...
Today , concerns are growing in political circles among Nigerian diaspora that this former military dictator , who annulled the 1993 elections is seeking a new route to political relevance . Media commentators on several Nigerian web-sites and E-groups believe he has been trying to influence the composition of the present political chessboard . He has grown notably visible lately for a man who hardly spoke or moved around in the five years Sani Abacha was in power or the eight years of Obasanjo was in Aso Rock .
In 2002 , the Human Rights Violations Investigation Commission ( HRVIC ) - popularly called the Oputa Panel - in its fial report to President Olusegun Obasanjo , recommended the prosecution of Babangida and former Intelligence Chiefs for the murder of Dele Giwa , a fron-line Journalist , murdered in his home in Lagos on October 19 1986 . Obasanjo appointed a special committee to oversee the implementations of these findings . Babangida and his money-soaked lawyers , subsequently filed a suit to stop obasanjo from even "...considering or accepting the observations and recommendations " of the commission concerning him ". To this day , Oputa panel is still clouded in secrecy and may not see the light of day again .... 
Nevertheless , the fire that came with June 12th cannot be extinguished easily . Now , forget all the public funds , time , energy and faith Nigerians invested in Democracy . If you very much want to know what happened to all those investments ? Check with IBB . He sure has his back house , a massive rubble of ash , the relic of his stewardship as Nigeria's Head-of-State , or President , as he loved to be called .
Admittedly , democracy is about giving everbody a chance to compete . The right to vote and be voted for . And in a civil society , people tend to agree on that . But Babangida as a candidate for Nigeria's presidency again - is drawing the anger of this writer , as well as miliions on Nigerians who have felt insulted by the idea . Does he intend to buy his way back to Aso Rock ? We shall see . Why is Nigeria marching forward but going nowhere ? The well known facts about IBB , forget the unanswered questions , rule him out of politics , talk much of the Presidency of modern Nigeria . He has the greatest zero credibility among world leaders especially in Washington and London that , if elected ( God forbid ) , he will be isolated and Nigeria will be much in a sorry state .
In any self respecting democracy , it would be unthinkable that the former Army General swill be assumed to be quietly buying his way back to Aso Rock : Funding organized crooks and professional praise-singers to spread the word . As a political observer of the Nigerian political scene , I believe the signs are there . But it will be an insurmountable hurdle for the man from Minna . Yet Nigeria never ceases to to amaze me . The new grand corruption and the culture of settlement in Nigeria today is easily traceable to Mr Babangida's days in power , when funds were disbursed to loyal favorites . This grand corruption - the embezzlement of large amounts of public resources , often through the award of contracts at inflated prices or for work that was never done , and sometimes through outright theft .
To justify the overthrow of General Buhari , Mr. Babangida used a staged referendum to get popular support for austerity measures that conform to World Bank and IMF dictates . The subsequent period of the " structural Adjustment program " frozed salaries , while import prices increase , creating an illegal boom that made some of his boys rich , squeezing the Nigerian middle , working and poor classes . Human Rights violations occured daily as security outfits were authorized to defend the regime by any means necessary . Then , the flight to abroad escalated . Nigerians fled their country in large numbers during this period , for political and economic reasons and the nightmare is continuing to this day . Under IBB , Nigerians lacked faith in government .  
When Sani Abacha was in power , he set up panels to exmine government corruption under Babangida ( imagine Abacha ) . One such panel , Okigbo panel , found that $12 billion in oil revenues has been emazzled in what Babangida himself dubbed a " dedicated accounts " - what ever that means . Nigeria face a number of complex issues in Nigeria that do not lend themselves to easy solutions . But one thing should be clear : Nigeria is too important to allow people with sleeze and questionable character to govern . And top of that list is IBB . A population of over160 million must survive on a limited amount of resources , which mean s people need to be managed by a leader with outright sense of equity and justice . IBB does not meet this criteria .
Babagida has granted several Newspaper and magazine interviews  about his annulment of the 1993 polls , which has kept Nigeria in constant turmoil ever since , but there's widespread conception that his explanations were deemed with it's lack of frankness . He came into office as a military redeemer , a man who could take the difficult decisions on the economy and foster a Pax society . Compared with his predecessor , the strick disciplinarian , General Buhari , Babangida was liberal , prepaed to discuss the issues and allowed limited public debate . Abroad , he was feted by world leaders including the Queen of England who called him "....a progressive , determined African leader ". At home , he estabilished a virtual military version of John F. Kennedy's camelot , complete with study groups and intellectuals - ask his friends , Dr George Obiozor and Professor Omo Omoruyi . However , in hindsight , it is clear today that he simply seduced everyone . He was , and still is , a con man .
In a sane society , Mr Babangida ( who was born into poverty spent all his adult life in the Nigerian Army and retired , became one of the richest Nigerian today ) would have been under investigation or indictment for among other things , mal-administration , complicity to murder ,  looting of the worse kind , marginalization of Nigerians , tax evasion , bribery and gross human Right violations . Simply put , Babngida is not fit to lead the government of any country , least of all , a modern democratic Nigeria ...
Many of Mr Babangida's supporters , who include most members of his failed and discredited administration , have decried my criticisms as born of naivete , ignorance and malevolence "... since you was not at home during the man's administration ". My response is that the condition of Nigerians at home during those years is a good testament as to what went wrong . The election annulment , a comatose economy , grand corruption , judicial killings , disappearances , mass exodus of Nigerians etc..., so what's there to learn about IBB years ? Does Nigerians have a myopic memory ? 
Babangida's supporters say he , not the Nigerian people , is the victim of distortion and dishonesty . They say that ever since he retired from the Army ( or was he forced out ? ) he has been persecuted by left-leaning lawyers like Gani Fawehinmi , Femi Falana and others and beaten by liberal journalists and disgruntled politicians , all jealous of his wealth and fearful of his influence and intentions to " re-engineer " Nigeria . They add , shamelessly , that even if IBB did all they said he did , so what ? "..That was the way things were done in Nigeria prior to his ascension to Aso Rock.."  said a loyal associate of the General . This argument is laughable . For one thing , how did he make his millions ? I agree , he was no worse than say , Sani Abacha . He's only smarter .
My case is that Babangida has a compelling questions to answer on a string of grave charges . In addition , his strange and long standing reluctance to explain his actions , bad or otherwise , during his administration and apologize , smack of insult to the Nigerian people ..In any other country , the voters , and probably the law - would not have given Mr Babangida his chance at the polls without first obliging him to divest himself . The conflict of interest is gargantum . Worth $10 billion , he is intricately involved in vast areas of Nigerian economy - Commerce , education and Media with ramifications into almost every aspect of business and public life .
Obviously , it is sad to know that the enigma is stil with us ...
Mr. Ikenna Anokute is the Editor-in-Chief of African Globe .

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