When is our country going to learn from history and begin to exercise productive foresight? Is our memory so short that we have quickly forgotten how General Ibrahim Babangida literally dribbled Nigeria for years under his peculiar self- styled dictatorship? This is a man who took the title "president" on usurping power via a military coup; with a promise to explain, in due time, the reason for using the title. To date Nigeria, and indeed the world at large, are yet to be informed of General Babangida’s promised reason.
It is interesting and impressive to read General Babangida’s recent statements on devolution of power, federalism, local government autonomy, empowerment of the masses, and replacement of the infamous federal character by meritocracy et al. My question is: why didn’t the General attempt any of his current laudable political reforms during the eight years or so that he was the "president"?
Those several years in the highest office of Nigeria were more than sufficient for General Babangida to make indelible landmarks for good on the country’s political terrain. Furthermore, General Babangida now goes about boasting of having conducted the fairest and freest election in Nigeria. Kudos! Hic! Of what use and benefit was the so-called fairest and freest election whose results were annulled by the man that conducted it, in utter disregard to national/international outcry against the decision?
If General Babangida had been a genuine and principled patriot, he would have stuck to his guns by upholding the results of that so-called fairest and freest election that he had spent vast resources to organise. And this singular act of integrity would have earned him a great deal of international repute and respect. Also amazing is General Babangida’s invitation to people accusing him of corruption to come out with proof. The public may be incapacitated to provide any evidential proof for their allegation. However, it is on record that General Babangida arrogantly refused to appear before enquiry tribunals and law courts (not for trials) when he was required to do so, disdainfully contemning constituted authority. Only in a country like Nigeria where anything is possible can someone of "I am above the law attitude and ‘am bigger than the whole country mentally" would contemplate returning to power.
If former President W. F. De Klerk and members of the notorious Botha dynasty of former apartheid South Africa, in respect of constituted authority appeared before the "Truth and Reconciliation Commission", there was absolutely no reason for General Babangida to disregard his nation in the manner he did.
It would be time-wasting as well as petty to chronicle the countless ills, woes and evil machinations of the general’s years of military dictatorship. The essence of this writing is not about the person of IBB. It is about issues of sacrosanct consequences directly touching the lives of millions of people and their destinies that a brood of political vipers in variegated forms and shapes, are toying with. It is about love, integrity, honour, hope, truthfulness, ideals, principles and transparent accountability for Nigeria.
It is about the plight of millions of our populace mired in poverty, misery, despair, disease, hunger, disenfranchisement, social deprivation and illiteracy in a country that is endowed with vast human and natural resources. It is not about IBB but Nigeria and her survival, regardless of human and man-made cogs in the wheel of the nation’s progress.
I would suggest Babangida takes a cue from one of Africa’s most illustrious and dignified sons, Nelson Mandela, the only president so far whose birthday has witnessed global celebration in defiance of all racial barriers and the boundaries of geographical nationalities. He is the only African president that has been repeatedly invited worldwide to speak and lecture on a variety of topical issues. And such talks/lectures are not cheap. Ex-presidents/heads of government that qualify usually receive sumptuous remunerations. Perhaps General Babangida could have been one of such if only he had given a good account of himself while he was in power.
General Yakubu Gowon blazed the trail for Nigeria’s military elites by enrolling at the prestigious Warwick University to study Political Science after ruling the country for about nine and a half years. I expect a similar course of action to appeal to the ‘General President’ evil genius who alone wields the monopoly of ruling in a country of over 100 million people. What else do we expect of a megalomaniac? Who else but a megalomaniac would claim to be the sole custodian of the panacea to the problems of any country in this day and age?
I was not at all perturbed by the evil genius’ moronic statements about the "incapability" of the younger generations to rule Nigeria. Personally, reading the news was yet another occasion for that weird laugh of bitterness usually reserved for comic tragedies. For all we care, the ‘General President’ evil genius might have truly meant that the younger generations are not capable of running his peculiar style of dictatorship. We should have watched and read his lips. Who knows? After all, the man is an evil genius. Generals Haruna and Jemibewon, etc "re-invented" themselves by enrolling for university education.
These would be other suggested examples worthy of emulation for the former "General President" of unctuous cosmetic charisma who seemed to have enjoyed being referred to as an evil genius whilst in office as military president. Or he could join people of previous high public profile who are now into lucrative commercial farming.
I hope that my humble advice would successfully navigate the perilous sea of sycophants’ cacophony raging around General Babangida at this point in time.
• Mr. Akinwole lives in England, United Kingdom