Many Nigerians, it seems, are insulted that Ibrahim Bademasi Babangida, who loves to be called IBB, wants to rule Nigeria again next year.  It is 25 years since he first grabbed power and pronounced himself President, and 17 since he was forced from it in disgrace.  At that time, he had said he was “stepping aside.”  Today, it seems he has tired of life on the sidelines, and is upset that he ever showed such weakness.  He wants the nation back in his pocket.

There are some Nigerians who are cheering his decision, offering him their “support” to return to the presidential villa. IBB’s decision, to reclaim what he evidently considers to be his property, is not surprising.  It is the final confirmation that Nigeria belongs not to its people, but to a few self-absorbed megalomaniacs who think they own her.

IBB clearly believes this concept of ownership.  But there are things that you own that you are ambivalent about, and it seems to me that IBB both loves and loathes Nigeria.  He loves Nigeria because when he controlled it, he felt tall and wise and eloquent.  He was the most powerful animal in the jungle.

The other side of this self-importance is that loathes the nation so much he conceives of it as his private toilet.  A toilet may be marble and gold, but it is still a toilet.

Now, it is difficult to argue with a man who wants to use his own toilet.  It is a “whenever” proposition: whenever he feels like using it, he rises and goes there.  It is only when you want to use someone else’s that you seek permission or directions.

Nigeria is IBB’s toilet, and he seems to resent the thought anyone may be forgetting that.  In 1993, he merely “stepped aside” for someone else to sit on it.  Since then, to his outrage, he has seen every manner of man go in there and play IBB.  We ought to understand that the real IBB could only have been seething with rage for at least 16 years.

But now, we learn something new: he is either a man with a very limited memory or intelligence, or both.  He may have the usual drummers and dancers telling him he is a giant, but surely he must know that is way short of the truth?  His eight years were one long hoax, and all he achieved was to set new standards for deception, brutality and corruption.  He abused his toilet with extreme prejudice.

From his perspective, some of those that enjoyed the privilege were never really qualified. One ingrate had the audacity to die in it.  Another tried to outdo IBB: he was so messy his filth ended up on the ceiling!  One never came out.

But while IBB’s decision to reclaim his toilet may not be surprising, the celebration by his “supporters” is not.  This is because there is really no such thing, by definition, as an IBB supporter.  What he has are hangers-on, groupies, and shameless political prostitutes and refugees who know that IBB means easy money.  When IBB says he wants to use his toilet, they tell him their mouths are open.

They all know that he is ruthless and cynical.  They know he is the father of impunity; the one who provided public corruption with the cloak of acceptability.  They know that IBB stands for Insensitivity, Bravado and Brutality.

I repeat: IBB knows—better than you and me—that he lacks credibility.  He knows that all of those chanting his name have respect only for the billions of Naira he is sitting on.  He knows they expect he will “settle” them, and that in some cases, he will gladly cover up their sins.   

No, IBB is coming up for IBB, not for Nigeria.  And he fully expects to “win” any election because he believes it is available to be bought.  He knows it is a simple business arrangement: he spends the money, and his groupies get him the prize.

The irony is that he sees no indignity in pretending he wishes to seek votes.  One Moshood Abiola once sought the approval of the voters.  That was at the end of the monumental hoax IBB sold to Nigeria beginning in 1985, a political restructuring where citizens where at once equal owners and partners in either of two parties, “one a little to the right, and the other a little to the left.” 

It is now clear that IBB meant the right and the left of a cruel magic trick: In elections that were unusually peaceful and credible, Abiola—who thought he was IBB’s personal friend—won.  The punch line is that under IBB’s scheme, that victory became Abiola’s death sentence. 

But it was not the first time IBB had betrayed a close friend.  In the case of General Mamman Vatsa, who was falsely accused of a coup plot, IBB put him to death before anyone had a chance to plead with him.

And so the chaos, disillusionment and decay into which IBB plunged Nigeria in 1993 now cruelly seem to have been misconceived as the historic preparation for his return.  Nigeria stinks, but IBB is the hero coming to rescue it.

Need further proof of the depth of IBB cynicism?  Here is a man that has had the opportunity to meet and work with the best of Nigeria for over half his life.  In the army, the government and civil society, it is inconceivable that he has not met hundreds of Nigerians of good, solid quality. 

If IBB were a true patriot, he would have identified the best leadership material among them.  He would have helped to nurture them.  Like Olusegun Obasanjo, his good friend, IBB is so presumptuous and arrogant that he remains his only standard of measurement years after he was first publicly called him the most despicable political traitor in our history. 

Think about it: children born when IBB was pronouncing himself President in the mid-1980s are now running the world.  They know not only today, but also where things are going.  They are using new ideas and technology to fashion the future.  The likes of IBB, on the other hand, want to take the future back to the past.  His nation are not his people, they are his toilet.     

But the biggest danger to Nigeria is not IBB.  It is those complacent and complicit Nigerians for whom no money is too filthy; to whom no politician is too disgusting.  Some Nigerians never met a brigand they did not want to cheer.  They enthrone serial murderers and rapists, even when their own families and villages are their victims.   We lack the pride of which true men are made.   

That explains why IBB does not see Nigerians.  He is only about five-foot-nothing, but he sees only himself.  He was last seen spitting at Nigerians as he annulled an election that would have given us a false start.  His heart was thumping with fear that night as he fled from power. 

But now, he seems to have found some courage, and so he wants to come back and laugh at his victims.  My friend, Uzor Maxim Uzoatu, has called on Nigerians to be prepared to vote with stones.  I strongly endorse that strategy.

And I suggest that as we prepare our heaps of stones, a new chant must rise whenever they mention the Monster of Minna: I-BEE-BEE, ME!! ME!! ME!!! I-BEE-BEE, SHAME! SHAME!! SHAME!!!

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