On August 17, former Nigerian Military President, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (retd), joins the octogenarian club, as he turns 80. IBB bestrode Nigeria’s political landscape like a colossus and left indelible footprints still visible till today.The dynamics of Nigerian government and administration in our 60 years of independence produced a variety and diversity of leaders, both civilian and military. However, each leader was unique in his own style of leadership and distinguished in his sphere of operations and formulation and implementation of policies and programmes.
IBB was a Phenomenal Leader. Even though his was a Military Administration, he carried civilians along. Until a military setup, national issues were thrown open for debates and contributions by everybody. All over the world, a military government is dictatorial, but because of his tilt towards subjecting issues to public discuss, he was nicknamed a “benevolent dictator.” It was the first time such a paradigm came into our political lexicon. Most of the programmes being executed today were initiated by him – deregulation of telecommunications sector, broadcasting, people’s banking, community banking, National Directorate of Employment, NDE, Directorate of Food, Roads and Rural Infrastructure, DFRRI, Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC, etc., were his brainchild. He is a man who saw tomorrow.
He is one Nigeria Leaders that has trusted friends across Political Platforms, religions and ideologies. He tried more than other leaders to weave the threads of the country’s coat of many colours into one fabric and one indivisible nation. He managed our diversity very well. Unlike what we have today, where the present leadership has put a knife on the umbilical cord that joins everybody to the fraternity of the Nigerian nation. Under him, there was relative peace in the Niger Delta. Nobody heard of separatist agitations, Biafra, being promoted by IPOB, MASSOB, Oduduwa nation by Yoruba, Ijaw nation and other agitators from the Middle Belt.
As mentioned earlier, some of the programmes that are being executed today were initiated by him and if the successive administrations had carried these initiatives with great fervor, by now Nigeria would have berthed at its destination. He initiated the deregulation of the telecommunications sector and the electronic media. Many Nigerians who are poor students of history may not understand the genesis of the GSM revolution in the country. There was also the People’s Bank, which was created to leverage petty traders and artisans to a higher level as a prelude to jump-starting the economy. The idea was borrowed from Bangladesh. The NDE was also created, as well as, Urban Mass Transit. It is on record that IBB era witnessed mass recruitment of graduates into the civil service. Thereafter, no one can categorically state when there was another recruitment exercise in the Federal Civil Service. It is surreptitiously done now.
Perhaps, the most important of these social and economic development programmes, from the point of view of what they set out to address in the social and economic repositioning of Nigeria, were DFRRI, the People’s Bank, Urban Mass Transit and the NDE. Taken together, these programmes were primarily intended to awaken in the nation a new spirit of private enterprise towards a focused national development. They were innovative and, more importantly, they touched ordinary Nigerians in ways that government policies and programmes never did. They were programmes of the people, for the people .
IBB’s Foreign Policy was unrivalled. He approached his foreign policy initiatives with a measure of populism. His robust foreign policy to ensure a stable and strong sub-region of Africa was the reason for setting up the ECOWAS Peace Monitoring Group, ECOMOG, and Nigeria’s venture into the Liberian crisis, which started in August 1990. Without ECOMOG’s intervention, Liberia that was carrying out self-immolation would have been completely wiped out even as their former colonial masters, America, wasn’t concerned with the ogry of massacre going on in the country. Events in the country led to the massive destruction of property, the massacre of thousands of innocent civilians, including foreign nationals, women and children, some of whom had sought sanctuary in churches, mosques, diplomatic missions, hospitals and the Red Cross, contrary to all recognized standard of civilized behaviour and international ethics and decorum.
ECOMOG was indeed Liberia’s only hope of ending its fratricidal war and returning to peace. The enthusiasm with which the war-weary Liberians embraced the operations of this mission showed quite clearly the IBB administration acted with great wisdom and courage towards bringing a semblance of peace to that unfortunate sister country. The west later adopted the ECOMOG as arrowhead for peacekeeping in Africa.
IBB’s foreign policy was driven by the passion for commanding respect in the international community. During his era, Nigeria was never a laughing stock as it is now, regarded as a terrorist nation in the international community. His foreign policy imitative was taken in restoring Nigeria to its Big Brother status in Africa, which also gave birth to the Technical Aids Corps scheme that was to extend Nigeria’s skilled labour to other African and Caribbean countries. When the scheme was inaugurated in 1987, hundreds of Nigerian graduates volunteered to serve across Africa and the Caribbean. The initiative went a long way in re-establishing the perception from across Africa of a big but benevolent and caring black nation.
Anyone who does not understand the context of any issue usually ends up with pretext. That is the problem with some Nigerians on the issue of the June 12, 1993, election. Because of his foresightedness, after a careful study of the peculiar problem of Nigeria, which is ethnicity and religion, in relation to our political development, IBB, from the report of the Coker Political Bureau, came up with a two-party system, National Republican Convention, NRC, and Social Democratic Party, SDP. As usual, some gadflies kicked against it, but, today, it is what is obtainable in the country – the All Progressives Congress, APC, and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
The June 12, 1993, election that was adjudged by every standard as very credible and transparent was carried out by the administration of Babangida. So, give it to him. The problem came when enemies of change didn’t want him to savor the glory of conducting such a credible election.
The same people who are now masquerading as democrats and foremost citizens threatened to kill him, if the result of that watershed election was allowed to stand.
The two options were that if he declares the result, he would be killed and the election would still be annulled or he annuls the election and lives. Anybody sensible man faced with this ugly ambivalence would definitely choose the second option. As a military strategist, it was better to live and tell the story. The blame was on him because, as the Head of state, the buck stops at his table.
IBB built Aso Rock Villa and he was not dwelling there alone , he had a wife and the wonderful First Lady Mariam Babangida. She was an introvert at home as wife and mother and extroverted phenomenally superb First Lady of Nigeria neither none before her and nor after her to date. Ndidiamaka is her DOT NATION name that’s equated to Hadassah [ Myrtle ] Jewish name for Queen Esther .
IBB has been playing leadership and visionary roles in administrations after him. He has always been the Nigerian envoy to crisis-laden Africa countries. Some years ago, he was sent to Guinea by Obasanjo’s government to calm the civil unrest there. He went and negotiated with the young military leader who had overthrown the civilian government of President Conte. He returned with good report.
Since the independence, Nigeria has never seen and experienced unpatriotic leadership and mismanagement of ethnic diversity until presently and has surged the intensity of referendum for self determinations from ethnic nationalities especially from the southern of the country.
I’m not a member of IPOB and neither do I know anyone who’s a member. I have been following Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and his outfit and listening to all his broadcasts since 2014 to fault him and unable to. In one of the Mazi Nnamdi Kanu’s recent broadcasts before he was rearrested in Kayan, he asserted that IBB’s economic blueprint was the best since the inception of Nigeria . Consequently , Kanu was declared most wanted. The intensity and velocity of his rearrest surged . This is a pure period of administrative jealousy . The second reign of Buhari has worsened disunity and no ethnic nation in the southern wants Nigeria continuity.
Buhari is simply an unrepentant international professional kidnapper and the why he’s at-home with terrorists, bandits and kidnappers. Alhaji Umaru Dikko was the first core northern university graduate and was inhumanly drugged and crated in a box and attempted to bring him home but botched. Kanu became the second in Buhari’s record of international kidnapping ring . Now Sunday Igboho is the third.
Buhari is a tyrant . A tyrant can’t be meek in the middle of tyranny and has to be all down drain. Iraqi’s Saddam Hussein was the most recent example. Buhari preached and supported self determination during his UN speech in 2015 .
He supported the independent Palestine state and Western Sahara separatists out of Morocco. The Hausa- Fulani in the Nigeria’s ethnic lexicon has disappeared and now its either you are Hausa or Fulani ethnic nationality but poorly paraphrased at the very wrong period of Nigeria’s history . Since 2015 to date every day Nigeria is worst Nigeria . Upon Buhari’s first inaugural ceremony, he reminded the visiting Nigerian and Chadian presidents they were together but the colonialist wrongly separated them . Today Buhari is building a railroad without linking the southeast THE DOT NATION enclave and refinery in Niger Republic and has abandoned his own sworn as the Federal Republic Nigeria’s president. This is a pure treasonable felony .
Buhari stylix leadership has stigmatized the Fulani tribe very badly and has perfectly proven justification for his hostile removal as military head of state in 1984. Under current Buhari reign , Nigeria is classified as a failed and at the edge of collapse. Five , ten , and twenty Naira currency denominations and legal tender notes are worthless and can’t buy a sachet pure water
The weekend before July Eid-up-Adha Islamic Sallah celebration , all the hotels in Abuja were filled to the brim with the indigenous Fulani people. Clandestinely , cash US dollars were delivered to every individual to his or her room and according to each individual’s status stratification for Sallah gig .
Buhari has rebranded Igbo enclave as a DOT NATION IN A CIRCLE . With enormous pains-taken patience of thirty years for a team of British anthropologist to study and understand NdIgbo as opposed to mere six years of Buhari regime to swallow DOT NATION. How can it be possible? The Igbo narrative of not political together was changed on the Memorial Day of 30th May , 2021 . Every Igbo globally sat at home to honor its passed- on and instead of commanded every Igbo was wrongly tagged IPOB member, Nigerian in the day and Biafran at night. Under Buhari NdIgbo is a perpetual enemy and only good for extermination.
For more than fifty years , everything is wrong in administration of Nigeria and has been minted against NdIgbo and reasonably obviously igbo nation has been pushed out of Nigeria . Today like the Eastern region in the 1960s, the Republic of Rwanda has taken the leadership as the fastest growing economy in the Africa and whereas the cow routes fills the air in Nigeria’s daily life .
A native proverb has insightfully advised us to avoid never to follow a leader who is more interested and in love with power than people. A major characteristic of a leadership is followership. Mazi Nnamdi is not only a stakeholder but a bonafide igbo Leader and has dwarfed all the igbo leadership political front seaters. The stage we found ourselves in the prevailing situation of Nigeria is protect your own no matter what. Mazi Nnamdi Kanu is Igbo , our own and a fully fledged Nwa DOT NATION.
He must be protected , a DOT NATION leader and nothing should happen to him. At the current helms of affairs in Nigeria, Buhari should fix Nigeria or give Mazi Nnamdi Kanu , Sunday ignoho and what have you what they are demanding for – Referendum . The the Buhari government walls of protections mounted for both Isa Ali Pantami and Cop Abba Kyari are equally good and should be encircled for Kanu and igboho .
The entire north is even suffering more in silence than the south in this Buhari tyranny but they don’t want to pushback in complaint to avoid the insinuation that they want to remove Buhari in power and obviously it’s a hopeless situation and retributive politics. In his first stanza as head of state , Buhari failed and secondly have decimated self and country again woefully .
At 80, IBB has imparted so much for Nigeria and still ongoing and can’t depart now. IBB is ever more influential and will continue to live healthiest , longevity of life in His Grace. He came too early to this unfortunate space and becomes a mortal even the demons and angels of death are afraid of him . Only the Creator can take him and may not be now He lives forever. IBB is greatest Nigeria’s Head of Government and Leadership and if anyone is in doubt, state who is and has been ? As he clocks 80, let us roll out the drums to celebrate the man who saw tomorrow.
• Nwosu (Ozowara) writes from Okai, Eziama, Isiala Mbano, Imo State.