About a year ago from today, the first piece I have ever written about IBB was published, and I prefaced that piece by confessing a lack of strong feelings towards the man. A commenter (bless them) soon brought me down to earth however, mentioning the obvious: I couldn’t claim not to harbour strong feelings against the man and then spend an entire column holding him responsible for ensuring Nigeria’s downturn.
Indeed, I find that for me - and many others in my generation, born under the callous, wily dictatorship of a man for whom principle seems only another dictionary word and integrity a strange concept only to be amused by, it is impossible to be either unconcerned or for that matter objective - his many mistakes, his many failures, his many machinations ruined the country - and our faith in it - for us in ways he cannot begin to imagine from his obscenely humungous palace in Minna.I, like many Nigerians, soon came to learn - thank God -that it is naïve and dangerous to ignore Ibrahim Babangida at any time, or to claim a nonchalance towards him. Whilst we all did the siddon look, the man - like Shell under Ann Pickard - continued to spread his every tentacle across the length and breadth of the country and around its government and politics, choking them.
But obviously - and allow me gloat - this time we didn’t need to spend our energies penning articles and screaming hoarse against his ambitions, the elements themselves were aligned against him.
Clearly, Brutus was sorely mistaken - because the evil that men do can live with them, can strangle them, can lie beside them like the stench from the corpses of a thousand dead men in the Sahara. Indeed, it must be that Fate lies in wait like a LASTMA official at the CMS bus stop, springing upon random men and women whose wickedness cries to the high heavens, amplified by the ghosts and demons of people whose lives they destroyed and took away.
That must be the case with IBB. That must be the case with a man who has thrice now sought to inject his peculiar ugliness into our nation’s barely surviving politics and kill whatever freshness and newness we aim for with a stagnated view of how society should work and how Nigeria should evolve. But Fate was ready for him; so ready that it didn’t take a million men marching on the streets, or random scandals revealed by Wikileaks, nor a monumental party primary fight to quench his unwholesome ambition: all it took was the quiet, deliberate consensus of his contemporaries to send a message to the power monger - no one wants you here. Not even in the North.
As Wole Soyinka so succinctly said in an interview with NEXT last week, “I don’t think it is just the Northern caucus which rejected Mr. Babangida. I think the whole nation rejected Mr. Babangida from the very beginning. What Mr. Babangida thinks he is doing by insisting on coming back to rule this country, I do not understand. But it is unfortunate that such an intelligent person, it is a pity that he would have allowed some individuals to have persuaded him that he can return to rule this country.”
What spirit possesses men that they are unable to correctly gauge the limits of their own ego? That they are unable to see the fault lines around their blurred visions, that they are unable to respect either themselves or the people around them? If that spirit hadn’t taken hold of the former military president alone, surely he must have known that the Nigerian presidency can never be his: that the cries of children born and damned by 419 and corruption, June 12 and dead patriots, SAP and poverty, would reach the ends of the earth and raise up a standard against him!
He would know that attempting to contest an election based on nothing - no plan, no manifesto, no promises, no strategy, no agenda, no thing - whatsoever to radically change the lives of the people he had once mis-ruled was inane and impossible. He would know that the world has changed, and with it, Nigerians - that we might not know what we want yet, but we do know what we absolutely do not want.
We do not want a man who makes no pretence that his only motivation for grabbing power is grandiose self-justification, his own ego-massage, his own sense of destiny rather than the common good of a people in search of redemption.
And because we do not want IBB, he has failed this year like he failed the last time, and the time before that. Just like we all said he would.
Enough is enough. General Babangida should spare us the next round of drama. It’s gotten old. There’s a generation of Nigerians that will not be as polite as Adamu Ciroma, the next time around.