In the 1988 movie, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, a memorable statement by Arthur, when greeting a returning con artist, Freddy, was: welcome to hell. In the case of Nigeria vs Ibrahim Babangida, the con artist is, in fact, the hell. Welcome back to hell, Nigerians, if your own dirty rotten scoundrel, Ibrahim Babangida, passes right in front of you, to get back to power.
Anything is possible in this massive country, Nigeria. There are conmen in the national legislature, certificate forgers in the Senate, dismissed and disgraced police offices are mounting governorship posts and international scammers are bank owners. In fact, the former chairman of the major political party in this wild, wild African country is called, guess what? Mr. Fix It! He fixes state budgets in his toilet. My Fix It's wife is a new government minister in the current government, where, also, the woman heading the highest level of corruption fight is said to be collecting money from the people she is supposed to be arresting. The people helping her to arrest the corrupt are dying off one by one, ostensibly from the bullets of those who are supposed to be under arrest.The most respected newspaper is fighting for its credibility, having been drawn to battle by its own national editor, who claimed that the head of publication is one of the most corrupt editors anywhere in the world. The allegations are so much, the owner of the paper has petitioned the head of national police to arrest the owners of the invisible web site that leaked the story because everything is linked to the Acting President, whose wife is believed to have long, sticky fingers.
I can continue to build layers upon layers of corruption and rotten associations, but who doesn't know about Nigeria? One of Nigeria's greatest achievements in the past decades is her being ranked consistently at the top among the most corrupt nations by Transparency International. Perhaps, the most sensible description of this deformed geographic phenomenon was the one provided by its own Tell Magazine: Rich nation, poor people.At the bottom of all the rot is one man: Ibrahim Babangida, the Evil Genius, also known as Maradona. Babangida did not introduce corruption to Nigeira; I would be lying if I make that claim. However, he researched it thoroughly, refined it and found a way to make it a national culture. He put corruption on the fast track.
As a young man in the military, Babangida prepared himself to create a truly corrupt nation. He made friends with rich businessmen, academics, monarchs, ordinary men and younger officers. He knew where he was going. Along the way, he made a lot of money, either through drug trafficking, questionable business deals or his main trade - coup making. It is an incontrovertible fact that Babangida is the only consistent face at every military take-over in Nigeria.
By 1986, when Babangida decided to transition from a coup maker to hold ultimate power, he became the first military officer to boldly arrogate himself the title of president. He had arrived, at last. But Nigeria had been infected at last with what we can now hope is not terminal cancer.
What IBB did as president is now history. Apart from the deceptions, flagrant waste, state-sponsored murders, blatant violation of human rights, disastrous economic policies, grand theft and other ills, this man completely destabilized Nigeria when his unending transition to civil rule program ended abruptly by his cancellation of a publicly-accepted election of June 12, 1993, in which his close friend, businessman-politician, MKO Abiola, was to be the beneficiary.
Babangida lost his mind completely when he realized that an election he had engineered to fail did not fail. He continued to tinker, but the wave of change was too much for him to withstand. He succumbed to national pressure, but left with a little hole. He planted his brutal associate, Sani Abacha, as assistant to the weak interim government he left behind, knowing fully well the cat would consume the mouse eventually. Of course, the cat waited only three months before it consumed the mouse.
Abacha, Babangida's real hand-chosen successor, unleashed the most brutal regime upon Nigeria. But God has a sense of humor. The strong man died a silly death - on top of a prostitute with Viagra.
That was Nigeria's big break. A series of events followed, but Babangida never let power out of his sight. He was determined to return. His first plan was to plant his former boss, Olusegun Obasanjo, who was penniless at the time, as the president. Since Babangida had the money and Obasanjo did not, it was a plan easy to execute. The whole point was to tell Nigerians that if they accepted a former military head of state as civilian president, no one cannot stop him from doing the same.
In a twist of fate, Obasanjo became infected with power and mustered enough force to bar Babangida from realizing his ambition for the next 10 years. Then comes the big opportunity - the man who replaced Obasanjo in power became terribly ill. The nation waited and waited but the sick President Umaru Yar'Adua would not be awake for five months. He had travlelled around the world for medical miracle, but he has refused to wake up. The only national recourse was to plant his assistant, the man with immense good luck, as Acting President. Goodluck Jonathan, however, is a man of indescribable hesitation and suspect ambition.
Seeing all this, Babangida decided to capitalize on the opening. He will attempt to return to power once again, he announced while meeting with one of the governors you want to run away from, for his thirst for human blood.
Will Babangida walk over all the dead bodies of his victims, right in our face, and return to the job we wrestled from his hands 18 years ago? Time may have passed, but the hurt is still fresh. Not only is the hurt fresh, the scars are still everywhere. The nation is rich, but the people are even poorer. The rich continue to trample upon the hard-working masses. The nation that Babangida created has not been repaired since. Instead, the "Babangida boys" are now the new political leaders and they can be expected to make way for their benefactor.
This is the last fight. If Babangida wins, Nigeria is destroyed forever. If he loses, he is extinct. There won't be another fight for him, this he knows.
I would rather Babangida dies, physically, spiritually or mentally. It doesn't matter. He just has to die this time. This must be the end for the dirty rotten scoundrel. If he is not stopped, Nigerians, you are welcome to hell! It's time to fight.
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