Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well. 2012-02-02 -Voltaire
To be sincere, I have never seen or met General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida a.k.a IBB, Maradona, the gap-toothed general, evil genius, the general on the hill top and so on, in person. The closest I have ever come across or seen the alluring general was on TV, newspaper or magazine. Being a Nigerian, naturally compelled me to hear, know and see him on TV , hear his calm soft-spoken voice on radio or see his famous gap-toothed smile in some of the newspapers and magazines that were still lucky and bold to be floating during his long martial rule as Nigerian military president.
As a reader and writer , I have been fortunate to read and hear many of his utterances and actions, including the many gossips and hear say about him. And as time goes on, I became facilitated and at the same time awed about this Nigerian that has still remained an enigma in our existence as a nation, despite his many years out of public service. I read and heard with awe some of his popular wahala with the Nigerian people,which includes: his structural adjustment programme(SAP), his long drawn battle with the late Gani Fawehinmi on suspicion of his regime’s hands in Dele Giwa’s murder, his offence for killing his childhood friend Maman Vatsa, the popular notion that he had a hand on the Ejigbo plane crash, his alleged involvement in the Gloria Okon drug saga, the famous oil windfall and his unforgettable annulment of June 12 presidential election.
I was fortunate to read and see his ideas, utterances and plans last year when he stepped out to contest one of the most controversial presidential elections in this country. And like a golden fish with no hiding place the media unleashed its fangs on the controversial general, bashing him from every angle and finally took him to the cleaners. They dusted his file and exposed his utterances and deeds to old and new generation of Nigerians and the rest of the world, taking advantage of social media through the internet. Though the bold general fought out with his valor, the voice of the people was just too strong for him to win over this time around. He had no option but to forgo his ambition to rule Nigeria once again, this time as a democratically elected president. He had no choice but to succumb to the treacherous decision of his party to forgo its earlier zoning agreement.
Though I have never been a big fan of the gap -toothed general, nor subscribed to some of his policies in and out of government, some of his ideas during his botch presidential campaign did appeal to me, especially his view on the issue of federalism and federal character employment. But of all his statement so far , I think his best avowal so far to me is his recent proclamation on the unity of Nigeria at the 9th Daily Trust Dialogue held in Abuja and I quote “ You see in this country we fought the war for three years for the benefit of living together. I have a bullet in my body, so nobody will talk to me about secession or breaking away. If you do, I would always say yes, get my tailor to take my measurement, get on my khaki and go back to fight a war to keep this country together even at 71.”
Wahoo! What a patriotic nationalist expression coming out from this old soldier. I wish many of our other retired generals, and self exclusive business and political elite will be bold to take their cue from him and understand that we all have no other country than this big blessed nation and must be willing and ready to discard all our expensive and not so expensive babanriga, agbada, coats, suits, wrappers, caftans and what have you to salvage its threatened foundation.
It actually made a lot of sense to me and I believe to other rational thinking Nigerians that at last one of the many troops of retired generals and statesmen we have in this country have come out to boldly voice out his anger on the orchestrated plans by some of our self-centred, unpatriotic and prejudiced leaders and purported statesmen to cause chaos and divide this country. At least, Nigerians are beginning to hear some fresh inspiring words after the daily antagonized and instigating statements, utterances , press releases and actions of some of our religious, traditional and political leaders across virtually all the regions of the country; senseless statements that are not known with elderly statesmen across the civilized world.
Some of us have all been witnesses to myopic statements by different political groups, regional and tribal associations over some materialisms and vanities in some part of the country, thereby fueling our already tensed nation, with some of them shamelessly calling for the break-up of the country, forgetting that other factors like marriages, birth, trade and religion are strong natural reasons why this great country must remain together.
I think it is human to appreciate General Babangida this time for having the gut to speak out his mind on the current persistence bombings of our land and the killings of innocent Nigerians in the name of indigene/settler fracas. We should try to give a free applause to him for not taking a sidon look posture like some of the other old soldiers and statesmen who seem to have lost their courage and are afraid to say something as their ancestors land and graves are daily disturbed by bombings, ethno-religious brawls, dare devil robberies and other chilling orgies of blood bath.
Again, when I read the hilltop general’s speech at the dialogue I had no choice but to agree with some of his takes and observations; like his poke at our dear minister of information which went thus: “I would like to welcome another distinguished speaker, my younger brother , the Honourable Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku. During my years in office, Honourable Labaran Maku was one of the hot –headed young student leaders in this country who was always leading student demonstrations against SAP and against very minor increases in fuel prices.”
I must confess here that I tried to picture the young frame of our said hot- headed minister then at the bottom of the ladder, and how he must have felt against the unpopular SAP and other hard economic policies of the Babangida administration. The general did not stop there, as he went further with his truthful jab. “I am very glad to note that a robust young idealist like him has now found himself in government. In fact, he is now the spokesman of the government at a time when it is facing a lot of criticism from hot-headed young and not - so- young labour, student, and academic and civil society critics for deregulating fuel prices. I am sure that Labaran will use his wealth of experience as a critic of government policy and marshal all the necessary arguments to rebut the phrases and coinages of hot-headed street protesters, since many phrases they are using today were in fact coined by him and his friends in the 1980s and1990s.”
A very important reminder, you might want to agree with me. I think the enthralling general deserves a resounding applause for reminding us that our dear minister of information just like some of his other hitherto hot- headed government critics who have now found themselves in government have since changed ship, and are now part of those encouraging and preaching the importance of oil subsidy not minding the unbearable hardship and wahala the policy is now causing in many homes and businesses across the country. Our hitherto hot-headed minister of information has since forgotten what it feels like to be at the bottom of the ladder, since he can now comfortably afford to fill his cars on the government earlier proposed N140 per litre or more if they had their way.
Well, I don’t really know about you, but for me, I think the media and other empathetic Nigerians need to put on that human face and compassion that see and appreciate the truth anytime irrespective of whom or where it came from. I want to believe we can be generous with some applause this time around and spare the general the bashing and kick around for his patriotic declaration and readiness to thrust aside his babanriga for his retired khaki all for the unity of this great country, even at 71.
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lol lag, nigeria July 19, 2012
mtchew a green snake
IFESINACHI A.S. (08078848815) Abuja, Nigeria June 03, 2012
Yes IBB should not just be appreciated by all Nigerian/Africans but should be refered to as the FATHER of modern Nigeria. His coming to power in 1985 opened the doors for Nigeria to join the modern world of civilization, our LOCAL carpenters became MODERN funiture makers; barbers became hair saloonists'; tailors became fashion designers; shore shinners became corbblers etc . In a speech he delivered at the NIIA Patrons dinner on saturday 15th sept 1990 at Abuja as a followed up to the one at the None-Aligned Movement in Belgrade Yugoslavia on 5th sept 1989, IBB became the first LEADER in the World to call for the reform of the United Nations to include an African country(Nigeria) in the UN Security Council Permanent Seat. Hope the current mass ignorance and tribalism will allow us to be greatful to God for blessing us (Nigerians) with this GREAT,COURAGOUS and VISIONARY LEADER; IBB !
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