Why Nigerians will never forgive Babangida - "If the foundation be destroyed, what can the righteous do?"


             CC™ Introspective Flashback

“On June 12: Severally and with great remorse too, I have taken responsibility as a true leader for the actions and decisions of the military administration that I led. The annulment of the June 12 election is one of the ugly spots one has to live with...I know that a day will come when Nigerians will forgive our regime because we are a godly nation that embraces the culture of forgiveness”. Gen Ibrahim Babangida, Minna, August 15 2010.

Brigadier John Dennis Profumo was a British politician. Although Profumo held a series of political posts in the 1950s, he is best known for his involvement in a 1963 scandal involving a prostitute. The scandal, now known as the Profumo Affair, led to Profumo's resignation and withdrawal from politics, and it may have helped to topple the Conservative government of Harold Macmillan. 

Profumo, a well-connected politician with a good war record was highly regarded in the Conservative party. On 5 June 1963 Profumo was forced to admit that he had lied to the British House of Parliament, an unforgivable offence in British politics. He resigned from office, from the House and from the Privy Council. The scandal rocked the Conservative government, and was generally held to have been among the causes of its defeat by Labor at the 1964 election. 

After his resignation, Profumo began to work as a volunteer cleaning toilet at Toynbee Hall, a charity based in the East End of London, and continued to work there for the rest of his life. Eventually, Profumo volunteered as the charity's chief fundraiser. These charitable activities helped to restore the fallen politician's reputation; he was awarded a CBE in 1975, and in 1995 was invited to Margaret Thatcher's 70th birthday dinner. He was a member of Boodle's club in St James's Court, London from 1969 until his death.

Tony Blair is a British Labour Party politician who served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 2 May 1997 to 27 June 2007. He was the Member of Parliament and Leader of the Labour Party from 1994 to 2007. 

The 43-year old Blair became the youngest Prime Minister of the United Kingdom on 2 May 1997 since Lord Liverpool in 1812. With electoral victories in 1997, 2001, and 2005, Blair was the Labour Party's longest-serving prime minister, the only person to lead the party to three consecutive general election victories. 

Tony Blair was a very popular and charismatic with lots of achievement including the Northern Ireland Peace Process (after 30 years of conflict) and one of the longest periods of economic prosperity in UK modern history. 

But in 2003, Blair joined the United States and invaded Iraq. This was particularly controversial, as it attracted widespread public opposition and no less than 139 of Blair's MP's opposed it. 

As a result, he faced criticism over the policy itself and the circumstances in which it was decided upon—especially his claims that Iraq was developing weapons of mass destruction, which have not been discovered. 

Blair's decision to invade Iraq in 2003 prompted huge antiwar protests and till date, Blair cannot come out in public in the UK without huge security. 

In fact, Anti-war campaigners are planning to hold a demonstration at his book-signing in central London on 1 September 2010. 

Lindsey German, from Stop The War Coalition, said: "It would have been much better for everyone if he hadn't taken us into these wars in the first place. Blair lied about the Iraq war, he refused to express any regret at the Chilcot inquiry. 

Blair was highly vilified, summoned before the Chilcot Inquiry and some people, including Nobel Prize-winning playwright Harold Pinter and former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad, have accused Blair of war crimes. 

However, yesterday, August 16 2010, Tony Blair announced he will donate all the profits from his forthcoming memoirs to a new sports centre for injured troops. The former prime minister is handing over the reported £4.6 million advance he received for the book, A Journey, as well as any royalties. 

The money - which represents a significant chunk of Mr Blair's estimated £15 million-plus fortune - will go towards the Royal British Legion's Battle Back Challenge Centre, which is due to open in summer 2012. The £12 million complex will provide accommodation and a state-of-the-art gym and training facility for injured service personnel. 

For the former prime minister it was "a way of marking the enormous sacrifice" of the UK's armed forces. For some others it was little more than an attempt to assuage a guilty conscience. 

The proceeds from the book will go to the Royal British Legion's Battle Back campaign, a project that will provide a new rehabilitation centre for seriously injured troops returning from the frontline. 

Simpkins of the British Legion said: "Mr Blair's generosity is much appreciated and will help us to make a real and lasting difference to the lives of hundreds of injured personnel." 

"In making this decision Tony Blair recognises the courage and sacrifice the armed forces demonstrate day in, day out," said his spokesman. "As prime minister he witnessed that for himself in Iraq, Afghanistan, Northern Ireland, Sierra Leone and Kosovo. This is his way of honouring their courage and sacrifice."

What is the lesson for Ibrahim Babangida in these two stories?

General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, popularly known as IBB, was a Nigerian military ruler. He ruled Nigeria from his coup against Muhammadu Buhari on August 27, 1985 until his departure from office in August 27, 1993 after his annulment of elections held on June 12 that year. 

Babangida was the Chief of Army Staff and a member of the Supreme Military Council (SMC) under the administration of Major General Muhammadu Buhari. Babangida would later overthrow Buhari's regime on 27 August 1985 in a bloodless military coup that relied on mid-level officers that Babangida silently and strategically positioned over the years. 

He came into power in a military coup promising to bring to an end the human rights abuses perpetuated by Buhari's government, and to hand over power to a civilian government by 1990. Eventually, he perpetuated one of the worst human right abuses and lots of murder of military officers on phantom coup plots and unresolved plane crash that killed dozens of military officers. 

Ibrahim Babangida is widely regarded in Nigeria as a thief and criminal and was accused of being responsible for the theft of over 12 Billion Dollars. He was also accused of institutionalizing corruption. 

In his declaration speech, August 15 2010, IBB admitted that his ambition to be president has generated “robust debate as to whether or not I should contest the highest office in the land. In fact, some people in their negative criticism continue to render acrimonious misrepresentation to distort and disparage my true character and general contributions”. 

He went to point out four controversial issues that “touch on some of the impressions and issues that you and I must have been confronted with relating to my personality and previous administration”: 

1. The murder of Dele Giwa2. The annulment of June 12 elections widely held to be free and fair3. The Okigbo Panel Report and the missing $12.5 billion Gulf Windfall4. The Democratization of corruption 

On 1, 3, and 4 issues above IBB strove to exonerate himself from “the allegation for want of evidence by the prosecutors” while acknowledging that “perception, often repeated, no matter how untrue, becomes very hard to obliterate”. 

But on the issue of the annulment of June 12 election IBB said: “Severally and with great remorse too, I have taken responsibility as a true leader for the actions and decisions of the military administration that I led. The annulment of the June 12 election is one of the ugly spots one has to live with. It was a collective decision taken after series of consultations with several stakeholders. Even though ours was a military regime, yet we governed as a team, majority decision always carried the day. I know that a day will come when Nigerians will forgive our regime because we are a godly nation that embraces the culture of forgiveness”. 

Babangida in effect was asking Nigerians to forgive him and come next year, 2011, elect him as our civilian president. (I watched his declaration on NTA, he said “civilian president” with a crooked smile). 

Of the three other controversial issues above, I ask Nigerians: 

1. Is Babangida the most corrupt leader Nigeria has ever produced? I don’t think so. Otherwise, Atiku Abubakar - indicted in the USA for corruption would not be contesting and Olusegun Obasanjo would be in jail. 

Even Abacha’s son is reportedly warming up to be the next Kano State governor. 

2. Is IBB the only leader that may have killed political opponents including killed journalists? Since he left office, dozens of journalists has been murdered. Under OBJ’s watch, Bola Ige was murdered and no one has been prosecuted. 

3. Is the missing $12billion dollars reportedly stolen by IBB the worst looting Nigeria have ever witnessed?

I say, under Obasanjo, the publicly televised Elumelu Power Probe proved that $16billion earmarked for power generation under former President Olusegun Obasanjo equally disappeared. And yet OBJ remains one of the most powerful power brokers in the ruling party!

But on June 12, I tell IBB, No sir, Nigerians will not forgive you as to allow you be the next president. 

WHY?Simple, the answer is found in the narratives above about Tony Blair and Brigadier Profumo. 

Since 1993, For seventeen years, IBB by his own account, lived with a guilty conscience for criminally annulling the freest and fairest election ever conducted in the annals of this country and thereby: 

1. Set the clock of Nigeria’s development back by some 50 years!2. Brought the country to the brink of perdition and civil war3. Caused the loss of many innocent lives4. Imposed the most wicked, callous and sadist leader on Nigerians in the person of Sani Abacha.  

And yet when he “stepped aside” in 1993, and through all these 17 years, IBB continued to harbor and nurture the dream of coming back to rule Nigeria, and yet he did absolutely nothing to assuage his conscience, assuage the aggrieved and heal the wounds caused by his wicked act. 

He failed to toe the path trod by Tony Blair Brigadier Profumo and even our own Moshood Abiola. 

Before June 12 no one considered Abiola a saint. In fact, when digital telephony eventually came to Nigeria in the late 90’s, I could not help then thinking that but for Moshood Abiola, we should have had digital telephony in our house 20 years earlier. 

Fela Anikulapo Kuti captured the disgraceful episode in his classic: ‘ITT, International Thief Thief’! 

And yet, by the time Abiola contested for President in 1993, what comes into the mind of Nigerians when Abiola's name is mentioned is not ITT but philanthropy! 

Unarguably, No part of Nigeria was excluded from benefitting from Abiola’s philanthropy. Even a secondary school in my home town, Nnewi, South-Eastern Nigeria got 250,000 Naira during one inter-house sports ceremony. 

So again I ask IBB: 

Since you knew even when you were stepping aside in disgrace in 1993 that you will come back to ask for our vote in a democratic Nigeria, what did you do to assuage our hurt, to win the hearts of the aggrieved, and show that you are not the evil genius you acknowledged we take you to be? 

Where is your public school (not the elite school you established with your wife) for the masses? 

You claimed to be “conscious of the geopolitical divides in the country”, how many indigent students from the all the geopolitical divides in the country benefitted from your scholarship? 

You led the Nigerian army to Liberia, What charity did you establish for those that lost their limbs or for the widows that lost their husbands in that war?

What tangible Foundations did you establish to entrench democracy and good governance in the country? 

Gen Obasanjo after handing over in 1979 and despite all his faults acted as the conscience of the Nation during the locust years of military maladministration of Nigeria including yours – we remember OBJ begging you to give your flagship economic policy, SAP, a human face and milk of human kindness, He spoke up against bad military rule, and established African Leadership Forum.

It can be argued that without the statesmanlike roles Obasanjo played between 1979 and 1994, the Federal establishment would not have approached him to assume the mantle of leadership in 1999.

So again I ask IBB: What statesmanlike role did you play in Nigeria between 1993 and 2010? 

Where were you as religious and ethnic crisis and Sharia riots engulfed parts of the North since 2001 till date? 

why didn’t you speak up when the man you nurtured, Sani Abacha was treading Nigeria with his jack-boot? You became deaf and dumb! 

Or even speak against the injustice of Obasanjo sending the Nigerian Army to massacre peaceful Odi and Zaki biam indigenes?

IBB didn’t care because he believes that he could always use his looted funds to buy some of us over to sing his praise. He was confident he could gather a few journalists to feed from the crumbs from his table. 

That to me is the height of arrogant disdain for Nigerians and a manifestation of megalomaniac sense of entitlement that should be quashed by all means! 

It shows that IBB take Nigerians to be gullible fools that could always be taken in by guile and a flash of gap-toothed smile. Or alternatively, he considers us a bunch of stupid idiots that could always be bought with money. 

And for this, we will never forgive IBB! 

I hardly agree with Alhaji Umaru Dikko on anything but on one thing I am on all fours with him; the Nigeria’s presidency is not for the highest bidder! 

This historical lesson proved again and again in Nigerian political history the daft-heads parading as presidential aspirants have always failed to learn.

To their detriment!