The best thing that can happen to General Ibrahim Babangida now is for him to be disqualified by the PDP and use that as an excuse to bow out of politics. While this may seem unwise at this time, if Babangida looks back a year or two from now, he would wish he had done so. This is the beginning of the end for him. Mark your calendar. This is an 'I told you so' moment.

It seems Babangida's defiance of democracy is being encouraged by  his hangers-on, rather than his foolish orgy for power. His statements recently indicate he had been thinking about whether or not to contest, but thought it would be too shameful for him to have made so much noise in the last four years or so and not follow through. He seems to be listening to some strange voices that tell him he is too good to lose, too bold to retreat and too important to be intimidated. When Babangida said it was better for him to contest the presidency and lose than to bow out gracefully, he crossed from safety to danger.

We welcome Babangida into the presidential race. In fact, his refusal to listen to his cunny mind is appreciated. Had he listened, the calamity about to befall him would be avoided. But he is like the proverbial dog that wants to take the second bone from his reflection in the water. Those whom the gods will kill, they will first make insane. For the first time, Babangida is now really insane.

To say Babangida is insane for the first time may seem strange, but it is true. Over the last 40 years or so, since IBB has been destroying Nigeria piecemeal, he had played his game so smart. Even the annulment of the June 12 election, while unforgivable and callous, is from his perspective, a smart move. Documents now being revealed indicate Babangida had a plan to use the defunct National Republican Convention party as his donkey to making Nigeria the first Islamic state in West Africa. The plot was to use religion to drive a wedge among Nigerians, to the extent that he would become a Sudan-style or Ghaddafi-type leader. He would then lead with iron hands, with a permanent state of emergency declared.

God loved Nigeria. That plan failed because Nigerians resisted, and the late M.K.O Abiola became an unexpected democracy fighter. Babangida had always been able to out-smart Nigerians. Although he failed on the issue of June 12, his failure was not because he did not plan well - it was as a result of unanticipated reactions, internally and externally.

To this extent, one would say Babangida, though evil, had been a very, very smart evil.

Until now.

For 13 years, IBB has been living in relative peace, transitioning from a life of total seclusion in 1993 to near freedom in 2006 - all of it due to the actions of patronizing administrations of Abacha, Abdulsalam and Obasanjo. He had polished his image fairly well, now able to move around, and has an illusion of total well-being. His wife, Maryam is now able to travel freely to the United States, and he almost got a visa too in 2005. Life is smiling on him.

But with his stepping out in Abuja on November 8 to pick election forms, he should now be doing a countdown to his end. This is the beginning of the end, mark your calendars. Babangida's life will now be rapidly folding up. When people look at him from now, they should begin to think this man is a ticking time bomb. He is set to expire. How it will end for him, we don't know yet. People have been mooting. The publisher of Saharareporters suggested we begin to raise funds for his prison uniform. We would rather he goes into prison naked.

Of all the years we have lived together as Nigerians, 2007 will be different. All the difference will be because of Babangida. The forces of social justice, righteousness and retribution will be marching against Babangida. Evil has never won over good. It may prosper for a while, but good always wins. There is little point to make by calling Babangida evil. Has he not called himself the Evil Genius? Well, he is just about to find out he is all evil without genius, and there is a price to pay for being evil.

He will be destroyed not because Nigerians will decide to resist him. In fact, it is apparent that Nigerians have no resistance left in them. Corruption and poverty has pummeled Nigerians into submission to bad government and even worse leadership. So, the matter is not in the hands of Nigerians as such, at least not in the beginning of the end. If it was up to Nigerians, Babangida would become the next president.

Most Nigerians have become zombies in their own nation. Right in their face, the governors steal billions of naira and they do nothing. Right in their face, rogue politicians remove elected officials  and they do nothing. Right in their face, a handful of legislators remove state governors unconstitutionally and they do nothing. Right in their face, white collar thieves ride in expensive cars and they call ranka de de. Yet in their face, the one who said democracy was irrelevant in 1993 now wants them to vote for him.

Will this kind of people, who are numb to every insult, fight against Babangida? It is not mine to answer. Every Nigerian should check his or her conscience. What are you doing as an individual to help solve our problems? What have you done for Nigeria lately?

The good news is that Nigerians will not have a choice when the decision time calls in 2007. If Babangida continues to come in our direction and is allowed to contest, be expectant of action without choice. When he is completely smoked out of his hole, there will be a succession of strange events, which will require Nigerians to take a stand. The result of it will be the survival or destruction of our nationhood. When it happens, we will all know what to do. There will only be one choice. And that choice will be to destroy Babangida.

When the stranded snake is destroyed, only one thing will happen. Nigeria will be free.


Tunde Odediran, former journalist with Guardian, Concord and Punch, edits

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