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Author Name: NGEX
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IBB and History: What is in pride?
Author: NGEX | October 02, 2006



Pride is defined “as a feeling of elation or satisfaction at achievements or qualities or possessions…that do one credit. It is also defined as “ a high or overbearing opinion of one’s worth or importance…knowledge of one’s own worth or character; a sense of dignity and respect for oneself. . As an abstract, pride can apply positively or negatively. For example, a woman who wants to preserve her self-dignity can opt to commit suicide instead of succumbing to being defiled by a rapist. Pride will make a poor but principled husband to untie his nuptial knot, instead of being consigned to a lame duck that is compelled to welcome his wife’s lover. At these two instances, pride is reflected positively. Pride is also a tall and complex ladder most people want to climb and once on top, they want to sustain. However, quite a few who have climbed that ladder are worth the honour accorded them if they are to be properly scrutinized on what transpired before they got to that top. Therefore, when the rug is pulled-off the feet of an impostor wearing the apparel of honour, the line of wisdom to toe is to let go that pride and in the process win some sympathies after condemnation and disgrace. Sadly, most victims in this category tend to embark on cover-ups and in the process, would have to lie the more and engage in deceit and sophism. Some years back, the government of Russia would have been able to save the lives of some of her own trapped in a submarine that was sinking. The sailors sent out early distress signals, a proximate American submarine could have helped save the sinking sailors but must have the expressed permission of the Russian government. Out of pride, the Russian government refused the offer of help of the Americans, the result was the death of all the occupants of the Russian submarine. The unfortunate occurrence left many women to become widows, children became fatherless, mothers were bereaved, and Russia herself lost a cream of professionals. That is pride at its negative. Salisu Buhari, remember him? He was the pioneer Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives when Nigeria returned to Democracy in 1999. The young man was enmeshed in University of Toronto (U of T) certificate scandal. The more he tried to cover the scandal, the more it became exposed and he was doing it all in an attempt to sustain the first part of the definition of pride as stated at the opening of this write up. At the end of it all, Salisu let go his pride and owned up. We may not be surprised if in the next few years Salisu comes back with a genuine PhD degree and become relevant again. The truth has saved him. The story of Barnabas Msheilla alias Sgt. Rogers is another good example of how the truth can set one free. Rogers was credited with high profile State sponsored killings during the dark days of the Abacha regime. Had Abacha been deposed through a popular uprising and all the remnants of his regime were to be running helter-skelter, the Nigerian people who though, had awesome fear of him but loathed him equally would have mobbed the likes of Sgt. Rogers to death. It was this same Sgt. Rogers who was humbled in a court of law, always clutching his bible and had on some occasions wept as if he was not the lion that could determine who could have his or her dinner in the great beyond when he was under the toxic influence of Al-Mustapha and the late dictator, Sani Abacha. President Clinton did all to deny his affairs with Monica Lewinsky but when the truth became too glaring, he owned up and the likes of Ken Starr who were all out to rubbish his personality went out of business. The question to ask now is why is it that Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida at 65 would just not come down and accept his mistakes, apologise where necessary and let the ghosts of his alleged many atrocities and mistakes stop haunting him? He is not helping matters, his goons are not. Instead of them chasing the shadows, they should package a press conference for him where he would seek to atone for his mistakes, soothe frayed nerves and use the same opportunity to highlight some of his notable achievements as a military president. The cross IBB has had to bear since leaving office include allegations that his government institutionalised corruption; culpable in the death of Dele Giwa, a journalism prodigy; suspicion that his government masterminded the death of a crop of military officers in Ejigbo plane crash; the killing of Mamman Vasta, his childhood friend and colleague; and the annulment June 12 1993 presidential elections, which almost threatened the corporate existence of Nigeria. On corruption, IBB should come out in unambiguous terms about what happened to the touted N12.4billion first Gulf war induced crude oil earnings. President Obasanjo, no matter his failings has something to show for oil earnings in his second coming as exemplified in the payment of our foreign debt. Did Babangida squander the earnings as were being alleged? Was it N12.4billion that came to the covers of the State during the first Gulf war? The retired General is also said to be living in a 50room mansion in Minna. Is it true? If the answer is yes, does he have explanations on how he came about the income he used to build such a mansion? If his regime had not given vent to venalities, suspicion that his government masterminded the crash of Military Hercules plane that killed some middle ranking officers in Ejigbo, a suburb in Lagos, spurious as it was, could not have arisen. When an unfortunate incident like that happens, especially in the Aviation Industry, there is always a probe to determine the cause. Did the General have the report of the probe on the cause of crash? The death of any citizen, rich or poor, influential or unsung should elicit concern for a government that is concerned about the welfare and wellbeing of her citizens. Mamman Vatsa’s death is one of those regrettable deaths that often happen in our county. Vatsa was a General of the Nigerian Army, a poet, and he was a childhood friend of IBB. He was alleged of coup planning, which many believed was phantom, but before pleas for pardon from different quarters could save the man and others from bullets, he was hastily executed. Of recent, Vatsa"s widow initiated a call for justice on behalf of her family and her late husband, but instead of IBB to adopt a trouble shooting approach, he has continued to hurt further the feelings of a family. Coup and counter coups especially between one military government and another are like what the Yorubas call “thief stole it and another thief collected it”. If he had taken courage to commute the death sentence, perhaps the truth would have come out now. If president Obasanjo had been shot on the account of his alleged involvement in coup, he would not be president today. Alternatively, can we argue that whoever had forcefully taken government in the past should have treason on their necks for as long as they live? If that is the case, where does that leave IBB himself? Time is the greatest healer. Whatever IBB had done in the past could be atoned for, if he chooses to humble himself, tender an unreserved apology where one is needed and be thoroughly sober in his disposition. The truth of the matter is that no matter what happens, we cannot bring Vatsa back, we cannot bring M.K.O. Abiola back to head the government on the account of his victory in 1993 election. We cannot even bring Dele Giwa back but his killers can be brought to justice even if they would have light sentences or conviction and pardon. As regards the issue of looting, if IBB indeed stole that much as was being alleged, then he cannot bank on the fact that he would always have a say on who becomes the president of the country and therefore avoid being called upon to account for most of his deeds. In the alternative, he should challenge his accusers to take him to court if they are in possession of any incriminating evidence against him. The General bungled the opportunity presented by the Oputa Panel, to address some of the issues that have refused to die years after they happened. The wrong strategy embarked upon by IBB’s camp has dwarfed some of his achievements in office. The regime restored honours to our senior citizens like the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe and others who suffered indignities in the hands of a Government(Buhari/Idiagbon) that was overzealous in its self-appointed assignment of cleansing Nigeria of all ills. Even if Babangida was the “fifth columnist” General Muhammadu Buhari was referring to in the forceful break-in to Chief Awolowo’s house in Apapa, his government failed in damage control efforts by not apologizing to the sage. Under the Babangida regime, late Olikoye Ransome Kuti, as health minister, did a lot in the areas of primary health care such that if it had been sustained would have given our health program a quantum leap. We should also not forget in a hurry that under his regime, prince Bola Ajibola expunged some laws in the statute book. Have we forgotten that this same police force would pick up innocent citizens at any location around 5pm on their ways home to meet their families after a hard day’s job and drive them round town till 12am only to register them in the charge sheet for “wandering”, an archaic law inherited from the colonial masters. What about the Technical Aids corps scheme? The small-scale industries scheme, and the establishment of National Directorate of Employment etc? All these are schemes aimed at stimulating growth and development against the backdrop of lax in the civil service bedevilled with red-tapism and buck-passing. Not withstanding the gross indiscipline and dereliction, the schemes recorded some successes. We can also talk about the foreign policy, which made Africa the centrepiece. It helped in the process that saw the end to apartheid in South Africa and the eventual release of Nelson Mandela, the first president of post apartheid South Africa. Fela Anikulapo would probably have died earlier than he did, if the ridiculous charge of his non-declaration of some foreign currencies he had on him when he was about to travel out and was eventually jailed for, had not been reviewed when Babangida took over. So many politicians would also have died a painful death in Buhari/Idiagbon’s gulag who would rather wish a magic conjure some corruption allegations in order to nail them when there was no evidence of one against them. The philosophical statements of some politicians of that era aptly summed up the feelings of the time. Late Victor Olabisi Onabanjo, upon conferment of Honorary Doctorate Ogun State University (Olabisi Onabanjo University) after been freed from prison, was emotional after the conferment, when he alluded the honour to God’s vindication of him. He too was released from prison by Babangida. Irrepressible Abubakar Rimi, irked by the desperation of the Military Tribunal to jail him and most of his colleagues at that time, seized the microphone and roared that there were three kinds of judgements; the Tribunal’s judgement, people’s judgement and God’s judgement. . God used Babangida to let off the hook many of the leaders who were well loved by their people unlike today’s political predators who were foisted on their people. We also must not lose sight of the closure of Ita-Oko, a detention centre said to be infested with dangerous reptiles. It was a centre that really served useful and satisfactory purposes for the Buhari/Idiagbon’s dictatorship that must fight a war against indiscipline. These are some of the many good things that came under his regime. But why has the retired General’s camp refused to first address all these negative issues associated with him?, accept responsibility where necessary, apologise where it is due and clarify where there are ambiguities? Rather than adopt this easy way out, the likes of Kassim Afegbua have been going on the offensive throwing barbs and engaging in diatribes, attacking people and institutions that have a negative impression of the General during his reign as a Military president. It is instructive to add here that, former US president, Bill Clinton was in Toronto recently, to attend World AIDS conference. In an interactive session between the two influential Bills (Bill Clinton and Bill Gates), Clinton responded to a question from those on the floor and in the process, he stated that as a president, he made mistakes that he had reflected upon. If a successful president like Bill Clinton still accepts to making mistakes, what is in it for IBB to accept some mistakes and misdeeds? The fact of the matter is that he may not be too lucky to have a friendly president when next we have one and if he is eventually hounded, fewer people will sympathise with him as they would if he had addressed all the issues that have been haunting him since he left Aso Rock in 1993. More so , the Allah he worships is not a God of injustice.

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