He has the guts. He has the brains. The personality too! Indeed, Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida has the looks of an elder statesman with the smartness and intelligence that is rare amongst politicians of his breed since the birth of our good old Nigeria. There were times, in which I wondered if Ibrahim Babaginda did not choose the wrong profession enlisting in the army by whatever means he chose. Alas therein lies again the unique intelligence of the man with the gift of tricks and strategies.
In every conventional status of nationhood in the comity of nations, the military establishment serves the paramount purpose of defending national integrity and upholding the inseparability of the oneness of a nation within defined frontiers. Not so however, in third world countries in the international league of third class political connotation. The most formidable establishment in every society is the military in terms of physical prowess empowered by the strength of the gun and artilleries. The inevitability of this status to facilitate the onerous challenge of radiating an outwardly intimidating awe, has never enticed operatives in this establishment to turn their forces against the internal order of political power in civilized societies. Again not so in the third division of international political League of Nations! Third world countries soon discovered the efficiency of the weapons at the disposal of the military. It therefore became the assertive factor in defining political destinies in third world countries.
Here, Ibrahim Babangida proved his wisdom by enlisting in the army. Today, he owes whatever he is to his membership of the military in which he quickly soared to the enviable positions of fame and fortune that were offered by political exposure. Today, Atiku Abubakar can also sing a louder song on how he owes his fame and worldwide acclaim to his decision to jump aboard the bandwagon of politics. Very few knew him as the head of the customs.
As a military operative, Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida (hereinafter referred to as IBB) has left an indelible mark on the establishment and the entire country that will forever be remembered in the history of Nigeria. He rallied friends. Played one against the other. Understood the game of instrumental rationality using and dumping allies when they served a useful purpose. For short, he planned coup d'etat. Indeed, it is said today, that hardly any military coup d'etat has ever succeeded in Nigeria without the involvement of IBB in strategic planning.
He outmaneuvered friends and foes and made it to the highest office. The climax of his political travail till the present date! He tried to revolutionize his position and styled himself a President. He pretended to rule by constitution. He called for public debate on structural adjustment. He saw a rejectionist public trend. It didn't bulge him a bit. He went ahead and implemented the policy anyway. He dragged Nigeria into the Islamic Conference Organization and didn't care much that the majority of Nigerians are non-Muslims. He allowed for a free press. But journalists who dared to be too vocal and committed died in mysterious circumstances. He allowed for free and fair elections. But didn't care much who won the day if it wasn't his man.
In fact, IBB was a likeable man as self-imposed President. There wasn't much money for him to steal but the benefits of a series of foreign loans were hardly seen. The little that accrued from oil revenues was hardly accounted for in public works. It was in fact, the wake of delayed payment of salaries. Economic and financial conmen suddenly appeared from nowhere. Foreigners were duped. Foreign law enforcement agents sought cooperation with Nigerian security forces and met a blind alley.
IBB was indeed a man against whom a chain of misdeeds as President can be arraigned. Yet hardly anyone had any major complaint against him until he took more than he can chew by annulling June 12th.
In the aftermath of transition to a more civilized process in a consciously steady but slow sequence, IBB has had to change his military uniform against a civil garment. Ever since though, he is being trailed by the most prominent slogan of having presided over a reign of monumental corruption.
An evil arrangement pushed him out of power and he was coerced into strategic silence to preserve his life in a reign of terror. He saw his chance in the demise of Sani Abacha and brought out a tried and tested Obasanjo from prison to hold brief temporarily for the traditional northern grip on power. In his usual tactical fashion of strategic planning (this time though no longer among the military ranks) he struck his deal on the regional transfer of power after a given period.
But things went wrong. Not only did Obasanjo turn around and did all he could to decimate him and end once and for all, the vicious circle of power recycling, Atiku Abubakar, with whom no one reckoned became over-ambitious.
Indeed the regime of Olusegun Obasanjo ensured the consolidation of new vocabularies in the zoning of Nigerian politics. South-South, Southwest, Middle-belt etc. became household phrases to awaken a psychological consciousness that Nigeria was not made of North and South alone. IBB saw the trick at an early stage and so did his northern compatriots. They knew the implication too well that the simple North-South zoning would become difficult to sell to Nigerians if this psychological consciousness was allowed to take hold. But Obasanjo had his way with the power of incumbency.
It became the birth of chaos. Sharia declarations! Atiku's rebellion suddenly gained strategic regional support by powers behind the scene. Judicial activism! Strange judgments became a routine. The press intensified its aggression being fueled by a strategically miscalculated third term agenda to hold the north from power for as long as possible, amongst other reasons.
Again, an opportunity crept up after getting Obasanjo to understand the risk he faced if he dared to shift power to another political zone. A candidate had to be nominated for the ruling party, which foundation IBB authoritatively contributed to. Somehow (don't ask me how) Atiku Abubakar, in spite of all the powerful support from behind the scene had been carefully maneuvered into irrelevance save for the history book of court judgments. IBB guessed it would be his time to continue with the recycling of power.
Once again, Olusegun Obasanjo stood in his way and conjured a trump card from nowhere that was hard to reject. The name was Yar'Adua, which significance was no pushover in the northern dynasty. IBB was forced to swallow the bitter pill and bowed out in stage-managed gallantry.
His field day came up however, in the aftermath of May 29th, 2007. His prot├ęg├ę-turn-nemesis Olusegun Obasanjo was out of power. Ever since the noise has been growing louder from IBB's corner.
He launched a series of public relations exercises to wash himself clean knowing the formidable task it entails to foster acceptability in the face of the wider masses. His first interview was aimed at debunking the phrase of having presided over a reign of "Monumental Corruption". He wasted no time in shifting that phrase to public enemy number one, who was a ready-made receptacle to absorb all filthy phrases in the aftermath of a successful northern ploy of wrecking a name coupled with several self-inflicted pains.
IBB has become vocal these days featuring prominently in overt political and media exposure. He no longer plans military coups. Well versed he seems though in also planning civilian coups. He has not only planted prot├ęg├ęs in several organs and arms of democratic governance, he also gained new followers seeking political realignment in the wake of cracks in traditional alliance and loyalties. IBB makes no mistake these days, in pointing out, who has ruined Nigeria and made Nigeria a laughing stock in democratic governance. For him, the buck stops at one door and that is the door of Ota farm.
He is doing all he can to remain relevant in the Nigerian political scene. He has only stopped short of saying "I am next for President". The strategy is all too brilliant. All the pieces must fit. Honesty, purity, unassailable regional perfection! So it is that Sani Abacha must be resold for the world to know the historical records of the blessing of northern rule.
The only devilish rule that Nigeria has ever had came from a westerner! A brilliant cat and mouse strategy, because as they say, the mouse bites and blows the pain soft for the victim to feel no pain! But what about June 12th? A pain in the ass that is looking like a harder nut to crack!
The evil genius has the answer. Professor Humphrey Nwosu! All of a sudden someone appears from oblivion after heralding a plan to speak out at a time nobody missed his voice. The carefully choreographed coup de grande was to be unleashed on June 12th 2008 in the launching of a book.
At the center again was Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida! Election results that everyone has long known was now formally announced. We forget however that no logistical machinery is in place any longer to verify the accuracy of the so-called post-mortem declaration of victory.
Oh lest I forget! Then came by the way, the gracious revelation that it was not IBB who cancelled June 12th. We forgot completely that IBB was a figurehead as President with a Prime Minister whose name we didn't know, who was in charge of running operative governance. Many were said to be capable of overruling IBB as President. It's all praises and hail to Professor Humphrey Nwosu. I am really looking forward to a day, in which a northern political operative would serve graciously to do the bidding of a Southern politician in sound and spotless image laundering.
First it was Sani Abacha and the legislative house flooded by IBB boys kept conspicuously mute. It's no secret today that Governor Gbenga alone is not the only IBB boy as governor. No governor spoke out to condemn IBB's outrageous whitewash of Sani Abacha. Now it is a southern Professor (doesn't matter that he should have been an Easterner if geographical logic was followed) whitewashing Ibrahim Badamosi Babaginda. Sadly too, it's only the beginning. No one should be surprised if many voices follow in the days, weeks and months ahead. When the four-year term of Umaru Musa Yar'Adua draws to a close, the slogan will be loud and clear "Babangida for President"! The ultimate comeback that is yet in the budding stage! "I pity Nigeria"