IBB must be loving it. All that attention! In view of the fact that the presidential aspiration of the former military dictator has hardly set the country on fire, the attention that he is getting from parts of the human rights community must be giving him a fillip.
Loud calls have recently been made for the wily old fox to be stopped from participating in next year’s presidential sweepstake. For example last week in the United States, the Nigeria’s people’s parliament in Diaspora unanimously passed a resolution asking the Federal Government to prosecute Babaginda and ban him from holding public office, for annulling the June 12, 1993 electionThere are of course, very sensible reasons for asking the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to probe the legion of corruption allegations against Babangida. These allegations have lingered on for so long that the right thing to do is to get to the bottom of it all. If there is a basis for prosecution, the state should go ahead, hopefully get him convicted and obtain restitution. However, to seek to give him a taste of his own medicine by banning him outright from contesting will prevent proper foreclosure on some issues.
It is a pity that the maneuvers of IBB and his collaborators denied the country of having an Argentinean type ‘trials of the generals.’ The late Raul Alfonsin on becoming President of Argentina got rid of the immunity clause which the generals had arrogated to themselves. In the process, 27 generals including four former military heads of states where given long prison sentences for human rights violation and corruption. It is precisely such a fate that IBB has been maneuvering to avoid since 1993. In Argentina the trials of the Generals brought foreclosure to an unhappy sequence of events and a traumatic period in the nation’s history. It was sorely needed. God knows Nigeria too needs cleansing and foreclosure. Since the charade of the Justice Oputa panel did neither, it is understandable that the calls for restitution will always be with us and will get louder.
Unfortunately, banning IBB will deny the country of an opportunity to get even. A lot of people will willingly give their right arm to witness the electoral humiliation of IBB. It will be a great moment for democracy and revenge is a dish best served cold. There is already a hint of desperation from the IBB camp about his latest adventure. There is obviously no groundswell of support for the IBB candidacy. If anything a bemused public has greeted his latest incursion into the political terrain with a bored yawn if not utter bewilderment.
The fellow himself did not sound all that chirpy in an interview he had on Red carpet, an independent production on Murhi International Television (MITV). Rather than come across with a confident gait, the man came across as someone clutching at straws. For this reason his ill advised electoral incursion is going to be good for the country. Babangida and his motley diminishing crew of cheer leaders appear like a crowd who have just woken up from a Rip van winkle type sleep. It’s soon going to be driven down their throats that society, culture and polities, in Nigeria has changed beyond recognition since the events of June 12, 1993.
IBB, through his dastardly act, denied the country of the positive benefits that accrue from a critical juncture in a nation’s history. His impending electoral annihilation will be positive proof that he his totally out of sync with current realities. The absence of a groundswell of support is a clear indication that the times – they – have – changed. At least when Napoleon Bonaparte escaped form Elba and arrived in France he was greeted by rapturous crowds. Where on earth is the enthusiasm for IBB? In the local patios his farcical attempt can be summed up as ‘God don catch am’.
It is weird that with all his massive ill – gotten loot IBB did not bother to establish a massive media empire which would have been pleading his cause all these years. Now he has to get his position through without a mighty media organization behind him. His perfunctory efforts so far have had no impact in moulding let alone changing public opinion. His best option at the moment lies in his taking the Goebellian option. Repeat a lie sufficiently often and hope that it assumes the posture of truth. Unfortunately for IBB it’s not going to work. Indeed the effect will be the unintended. Nigerian’s are going to recall the lines from Tommy, the rock opera by the British rock band, The Who in the late 1960’s – ‘we bow our heads to the new revolution, as indeed we recall the old revolution, we won’t get fooled again!’
Let IBB run. As he his finding out the crowd of professional jobbers, hustlers and rented cheer leaders have found new comfort zones. They are a calculating people. It will be a very dicey proposition to jettison their new positions to rally to the banner of a discredited military despot. The very weapons which IBB fashioned are now going to be used against him. The IBB induced culture of entitlement is premised on the here and now. It is risk averse. It is not a very sensible risk analyses to jettison today’s gains for IBB’s tattered banner.
The electoral discomfiture of IBB is a spectacle not to be missed. Run! IBB, run! To borrow form the slogan of the DSTV’s promotion of the 2010 World Cup - It’s a once in a lifetime experience