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The Odds against IBB, the Evil Genius

Dr Stephen Ayo Fagbemi 

 Published September 6th, 2010

General Ibrahim Babangida may or may not be surprised at the level of hostility against his presidential ambition, given his own antecedents. He is rightly known as the evil genius or Maradona not least because of his schemes and strategies that always saw him outsmart people, even the Nigerian nation in times past. Whether he would be able to achieve the same this time remains to be seen. But any sensible dignitary of his status should at this stage be advised to withdraw from this process. Much have been said and written about why this man should not even dare to contest the next presidential election (2011) in Nigeria. Whether he would heed the warnings of individuals and groups of people against his idea again remains to be seen. As part of his attempts to gain the favour and support of many in the land, he has now been campaigning vigorously for zoning so that he might benefit from it. Zoning or no zoning, Babangida at the age of 69 cannot deliver to Nigeria in a complex democratic context what he failed to deliver in his 8-year rule as a military dictator.

It is not my intention to repeat all that has been said already but only to highlight once again the fact that Banbangida has by his own antecedents undermined any argument for his return to rule Nigeria. His record as the one who legitimised corruption is not one to overlook easily.

More recently, it came almost like a joke when Babangida who desires to be a democratic president decided to determine what kind of questions to ask or not ask from him. To imagine that this could happen at all is an indication of the kind of person that he is. This is not only hypocritical but also insulting. To suggest there is a grey area on which questions might not be asked is to show his lack of understanding of what democracy is all about. It is a manifestation of his instinct and ability to deceive; it also exhibits further his dictatorial credentials. It is high time he knew that Nigerians will not be taken for granted by him any more.

Apart from issues of corruption, the annulled election of 1993 and the associated human cost, the so many wasted lives, and his age, all of which are vital issues; by his democratic credentials, General Babangida (rtd) does not deserve to rule Nigeria again and this must be told. In talking about his age, this is the same man who has literally destroyed the youths of Nigeria by closing down universities for a long period during his regime. He has in fact insulted Nigerian youths by suggesting that there were no capable youths to lead Nigeria. Even if Nigeria were to zone the next president to the north, there are better people in the north than to allow the dangerous Babangida, the evil genius of all times, access to the presidential villa again. It should not happen and sensible Nigerians should stop this happening.

What about his democratic credentials? Without ignoring the importance of other arguments against the ambition of General Babangida, it is his democratic credentials that make most-compelling evidence against him. Here, I shall just mention one. In 1999, Nigeria made history by electing Chief Olusegun Obasanjo as its president, bringing to an end many years of abusive and despotic military rule. Soon after its take off and in its attempt at clearing some of the mess of the past and in order to begin a process of the much-needed reconciliation, our democratically elected government instituted the Oputa Panel. Many people were invited to testify before the panel. Even the sitting president, Obasanjo was physically present to give evidence.

However, General Babangida not only refused to attend this panel, he also went to court to challenge it. What would have been a good opportunity for Nigeria to deal with some of its horrible past and to begin a genuine process of the much-needed reconciliation was scuttled by the evil genius, Ibarahim Babangida. We continue to wonder why he would do this if he had no skeleton in his cupboards. Whatever his reasons, Babangida’s refusal to appear before that panel and his rush to challenge it in the court of law is an indication that the man Babangida has no respect for democratic governance. Nor does he respect the wishes of the majority of Nigerians who elected that government. If he could not abide by the provisions and arrangements instituted by a democratically elected government, then it would be foolhardy to imagine that he can be elected as a democrat, not unless he is seeking anarchy as every Nigerian would then have a right to disobey his government. The implication of that would be better imagined than experienced.

Even if Babangida is the only one who is willing to stand the next election in Nigeria, the Nigerian people must look to bringing up another credible individual who can rescue the nation from the locust of destruction that has been affecting the development of our country. Babangida should in his own interest and in the interest of Nigerians withdraw from this process unless of course, he wants to play the role of the proverbial Yoruba Sigidi (a lifeless sculpture or idol), when he wants to be disgraced, he would ask to be allowed to dance. But everyone knows that he cannot perform as he has no life in itself. In Babangida, I see another Sigidi who might just be ready to be disgraced. If he cannot remember the late Moshood Abiola, Nigerians should remind him that he has done enough damage to our system and that we can no longer take the risk with him as our president again. We cannot toy anymore with the future of young Nigerians. We have had enough of the evil genius. Nigeria rejects Babangida and all well-meaning citizens should reject him not least for the many evils that he has committed against the Nigerian people.

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