There is a tale of two Maradonas. Both of them have put up a good demonstration of their abilities, won many fans and enemies, and quit the stage because of problems. One had drug problems, the other had deeply embedded character flaws.


Diego Maradona gave a good account of himself. He is a national hero in Argentina, for he brought glory to his nation, irrespective of what the Brits think of him. To the British football fans, Manadona is a cheat, who despite his skills, employed illegal tactics to win fame. However, the sun set on his career eventually. After battling various personal demons which brough him extremely disgraceful results, he knew when to rest his cleats, and gracefully bowed out of the stage.


Not so for the other Maradona - the ruthless military dictator, who ruled Nigeria for eight years and was disgracefully forced out of power in 1993. Ibrahim Babangida sucked up every good gift a nation could give to its citizen. Even without being a bright student, he was admited to the privileged officer's cadre of the Nigerian Army, where millions of naira was spent to train him as a fine officer. Coup plot upon coup plot, Babangida eventually rose to the top, naming himself a "president." in 1985. The next eight years provided Babangida with a stage to make a difference in the life of the nation. The whole world was watching, and while IBB started well, he faltered when it mattered most, by annuling the most-believable election Nigeria had ever held. Babangida was disgracefully expunged, although he tried to make it look as graceful as possible.


The truth for both Maradonas is, the best years are over.


Diego knows this, but does Babangida do? At the 2006 World Cup in Germany, the world saw Diego, sitting among the crowd, cheering his national team, enjoying himself, not as a player, but as a sporting statesman, not only of Argentina but of the soccer world.


Babangida would not borrow a leaf from Diego, thinking he still has the magic wand, when in fact his best years are already over. He does not want to be a spectator, but return to the field when there is nothing left to offer.


On August 15 and 16, 2006, Babangida offered himself for service as Nigeria's president in 2007. The offer had been long expected, as his billboards had been providing environmental hazard to the well-being of Nigerians for about two years in major cities. In his chest-beating declaration, IBB said he has some cool new ideas he acquired in Minna about how to revamp Nigeria. Feigning intellectual ability that truly exists not, he said he had solutions to the problems he mostly created.


While Babangida continues to be in the news following the news that really is no news, the Nigerian Maradona fails to realize that he is a worn out, unfit and big-belly athlete. He still thinks he has this celestial knowledge about Nigeria that nobody else knows about, and that all this while, Nigeria has been at a standstill waiting for him.


Babangida presenting himself now for political office is like Maradona vying for the captainship of the Argentine national team. In fact, it is like Christian Chukwu or Yisa Sofoluwe attempting to re-enter the Super Eagles camp. How is that possible?


Time has passed you by Babangida. Your star has gone dim, you are done and gone. Nigerian has no need for you. The last time you tried your best, but even your best was a disaster! We gave you eight long years to make a difference, but that opportunity you preferred to squander. Instead of giving us water, you went after our blood. Dele Giwa, Mamman Vatsa and the hundreds of pro-democracy protesters whom you ordered killed cry out for your blood now. Instead of giving us food, you stole our money, and made your cronies so rich they love you to death. In place of good health, see how skinny and famished you have turned a previously healthy nation.


You have no skills, no imagination, no discpline and no love to help us now. You were gone with the last century, far too rusty for the requirements of the Internet age. You tried to run a newspaper business - Tripple Heritage - and failed. We cannot associate any successful venture with you. How in the world can you hope to run a nation like ours?


Babangida, your best years are over. You were never good, but you were given an opportunity and failed. We have looked at your resume carefully, and find nothing but years and years of coup-making experience. Even if we wanted to offer you the job, we no longer require khakis for the position for which you are applying.


Thanks for submitting your curriculum vitae, but your job history is so terrible, whoever offers you the presidency must check in to a mental asylum.


Not only that, we found some salient criminal problems in your resume we think the EFCC would be interested in unraveling. Hope you don't mind us sending Nuhu Ribadu to your Hilltop Mansion to answer some questions? Ribadu might want to know from you where the $12billion dollars you collected from the Gulf Oil windfall went, or how you built your mansion.


Also, the Attorney General's Office might want to know how Dele Giwa died in the hands of your agents, a second after he received an official letter from your government.


Perhaps, the Nigerian Army would try to find out if the late Mamman Vatsa was murdered or fairly killed in a real or phantom coup.


Lastly, the Inspector General of Police might be interested in knowing who committed arson by burning the Ministry of Defense building in Lagos, in front of which you beamed with joy hours after it was razed.


When your best years are over, you ought to know, and sit your ass down.
Tunde Odediran, former journalist with Guardian, Concord and Punch, edits

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