General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida (rtd) a.k.a Maradona, Evil Genius, finally announced his intention, last week, to run for the highest political office in the country in 2011. That declaration has ended years of speculation about his plan to lead the country once again since he ‘stepped aside’ in 1993 after annulling the June 12, 1993 presidential election - the freest and fairest in the history of this country - won by the late philanthropist, Chief Moshood Kashimawo Abiola.Since IBB declared his intention, there has been a cross-current of opinions regarding his ambition. While some people believe that he has committed enough atrocities against this country such that the best thing for him to do is to keep silent and steer clear of politics - if he had conscience at all, others are saying -‘No, he has the right to contest, this is a democracy where the rights of individual citizens are supposed to be guaranteed’. Thus, whether in the media, on the political field, at pepper soup joints, relaxation centres, etcetera, IBB’s proposed second coming has been greeted with mixed feelings. This is so because every one is entitled to his own opinion.
I personally see the two positions concerning IBB’s ambition as correct. However, while the arguments against IBB’s planned second coming can be said to be sound, sensible and patriotic, those in support of his tall ambition can be said to be insipid, self-serving and non-persuasive and can not hold water. Given that he has committed many atrocities against the people of this country, from my reckonong, I honestly align with the position that he should eternally remain in his shelter and have nothing to do with our politics again. Alas and alack, it is unfortunate that democracy, the system of government that places premium on citizens’ fundamental rights, will not allow the wish of those of us who hold this believe to come to pass. The reasons are clear. One, IBB enjoys the inalienable right to vote and be voted for, just like any other person that is eighteen years and above. Two, we have not put in place a system or Constitution that will make it impossible for the likes of IBB, who have committed series of evils against our fatherland, to contest for or hold political office again. This is exasperating and it pains me to the inside of my bone marrow.
I find it difficult to know the fabled ‘Maradona’ forgot in Aso Rock in 1993 which he now wants to go and pick. But as I was ruminating on this difficult nut, I found an answer in one of the wise sayings of the Yoruba people that, ‘’Never tell a child not to go leprous once he can live alone in the bush’’. IBB must head back for Aso Rock to pick the remains of the opprobrium he received in 1993 which forced him to relinquish power unwillingly. We must not forget that he hurriedly left the Villa when it became absolutely difficult for him to withstand both local and international pressure on him to de-annul the June 12 election. But I can bet, with whoever is interested, that he cannot get to the inside of Aso Rock before gathering and picking the remains of that disgrace. The disgrace is already waiting for him at the gate to the villa i.e at the polls, where the Nigerian electorate will slug it out with him. It is surely going to be a battle of the Titans. Therefore, the declaration that he has made, let no one advise him to reverse it.
It is however pertinent to stress at this juncture that, given the uncanny ability of IBB to curry favour with the people, and the fact that he has enough resources to fight the battle ahead, it will be naive of anybody to dismiss his chances of winning or hold on to the notion that he will lose easily, just like that, without the people putting up serious resistance against him. Whatever we refer to as a battle of the Titans can never be a tea party, neither can it be a game of luck. Basically, two factors that will determine who will be the victor and the vanquished in a battle of this nature are skill cum preparation. And since none of the two parties wants to be the loser, they need therefore to arm themselves with these two tools.
Babangida has prepared himself well for the game ahead, no doubt. This is why he has come out boldly to declare his intention. Also, he has the skill to play and win the game. While his skill lies in using money power to buy people’s conscience, especially given the fact that ours is a society that worships money, the electorate’s skill lies in our voting power to choose who we want as our president. The onus therefore is on us to prove that we are more skillful than him by rejecting him at the polls. But before we get to the polls, we must make the Scout Association’s motto – BE PREPARED - our watchwords.
What should be the nature of our preparation towards outstripping IBB in 2011? Awareness! Yes, awareness is the key thing. We must start creating awareness now by sensitizing the Nigerian populace on the reasons why Babangida must not be allowed to come back and ‘maradonise’ us again for the second time. We have had enough of him. Enough is enough. And the civil society groups have a lot to do in this regard. But the job is not that of the civil society groups alone. It is a battle we have to fight collectively. All hands must be on deck to chase this ‘evil genius’ away from our political landscape.
In view of the foregoing, if anyone comes to you to bamboozle you with one reason or the other why IBB should come back, be informed and be bold enough to throw these questions to him or her viz: who institutionalized corruption?, who suppressed vibrant students unionism?, who destroyed the value of the Naira?, who suffered Nigerians with draconian economic policies like SAP?, who wiped off the middle class?, who jailed Chief Gani Fawehinmi several times only to say after his death that ‘’the country needs more of Gani to move the nation forward’’?, who reveled in jailing students’ leaders and patriots?, who declared presidential ambition two months after his wife, Maryam , died?, and worst of all, who annulled the June 12, 1993 presidential election that led to the eventual death of its winner, Chief Abiola?
The answer to each of all the above questions and more is IBB, IBB, IBB.... Of course every folklore in Yoruba land must revolve round the tortoise and the tortoise will never return from any trip until he has been disgraced. IBB, go ahead but voters beware!