The Babangida In Our Imagination


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The Babangida In Our Imagination




Seyi Oduyela





October 8, 2006



It would have been better if General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida had kept quiet and did not make his recent statement on the Crashed Dornier 228. Though some believe he is intelligent but I think he is being overrated. A man’s intelligence is not measured by how much he stole; how many people he killed, but on how he affected, positively, the lives of his people. I cannot believe that this man can blame the Army for allowing 10 Generals to travel in one plane.  


One thing I noticed about Babangida is that he enjoys taking Nigerians for a ride and believes that Nigerians are fools. To him, he is the only one who knows Nigeria and Nigerians. He has answers to every question and solution to all problems. Do you blame him? No; the hungry, sycophants and the senseless Nigerians, including some media executive ascribed to this man a status he never attained.


May be I should state from the onset that contrary to what the media made us believe about this man, he is a coward and an underachiever.


I read the interview that looked like a Public Relations stunt and cannot help but laugh at Babangida’s show of ignorance and consistent inconsistencies. Not only that his thoughts were that of a delirious man, someone who is totally oblivious of what he was talking about. His thoughts were full of contradictions and totally incoherent.


In one of his earlier interviews, he said he did not annul, the June 12, 1993 elections, but he cancelled it. What is the difference is between annul and cancel? Since he speaks out of ignorance, he does not know that annul and cancel means the same thing. It is a pity that we have allowed fools and ignoramus like Babangida to ruin our land. It is unfortunate and disgraceful for him not to know that annul and cancel are the same thing. It is disgusting to hear him acknowledge that the June 12, 1993 election was the freest and fairest election and yet he annulled/cancelled it.


He started his government with deceit.  Presented the Buhari/Idiagbon government as evil. Of course the Buhari/Idiagbon government was evil, but not to the ordinary Nigerian but to the politicians who looted the treasury under Alhaji Shehu Shagari’s government.  But his almost nine years of reign of terror took us back to where we are now. He spent over 50 Billion Naira on a transition to no where.


As soon as he took over power in 1985, Babangida opened up a debate on the political ideology Nigerians wanted. He set up a Political bureau, and the members went round the country. Nigerians, according to the Political Bureau's findings wanted Socialism, but Babangida said he was not ready to impose an ideology on Nigerians. What about the IMF debate? We debated and he said, no, but what we got was IMF through the back door in the name of Structural Adjustment Programme. We have not recovered from the adjustment. It was adjustment from good to bad, wealth to penury, squalor.

 Today, Babangida should be blamed for the death of the Generals. His statement and blame shifting was to divert the public attention from the real cause of the problem with the Nigerian Air Force.


To say that the Nigerian Air Force has suffered gross neglect is to state the obvious. The magnitude of the neglect, which started under the Babangida’s government, has been most devastating. Before 1986, the situation never used to be like this. The Nigerian Air Force attained the height of its glory in the early 80s when Air Vice Marshal AD Bello was the Chief. Most of the equipment with the Air Force today, was procured during the administration of AVM Bello.


Things went sour for the Nigerian Air Force just immediately after the Major General Mamman Vatsa coup was foiled in 1986. The coup according to report from military sources was to have been executed mainly by Air Force personnel.  According to stories of the plot, Babangida, then Head of State, was to be kidnapped by his pilots, and the Nigerian Air Force combat jets were to be used to raid some strategic military formations in Nigeria. This drilling scenario opened the eyes of the military to the dangerous potentials of the Air Force.


After the trial and conviction of the coup suspects, the Babangida’s government, though unofficially, ensured that the Air Force was reduced to nothingness. In fact, it was even suggested that the Nigerian Air Force be disbanded and replaced with an invigorated Airborne Brigade of the Nigerian Army.

The September 1992 C-130 crash in Lagos that killed over 300 Mid-riff officers was the first blow suffered by the Nigerian Air Force under the Babangida’s government. While there was quick response to the Dornier crash, it took Babangida’s government over 48 hours to attempt to rescue the C-130 crash victims.  


On the June 12, 1993 elections and its cancellation, contrary to the view that Babangida owed Nigerians apology, I feel he should be held accountable for the death of innocent Nigerians that were killed on the streets of Lagos during the protest on the annulment of the election, and for what should be seen as treasonable felony. He unilaterally threw the wish of the people away and damn the people to go to hell!


While some see him as brave I see him as a coward and a failure. I have covered the Military in Nigeria for a while and I can say that the event of the August 1993, when Babangida left office was not triumphant; it was a disgrace and shameful way to leave office after 8 years of calling the shots. Ordinarily, the military tradition is that a retired General is always treated to a pull out ceremony. Babangida was not just a General; he was a full Army General and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria. On his last day, there was not gun salute, no parade and he left in such a disgraceful way. What actually happened was that Babangida’s government was toppled by Sani Abacha. He was forced to quit. He lost in a palace coup. While some of his aides advised him to hang on to power, he bowed to the fear of being killed in office. He was afraid to die and he accepted the resignation offer from Abacha.


Babangida did not kill Dele Giwa because of the Gloria Okon case; he has another reason for doing so.

What about some allegations and rumors flying around that Babangida is bisexual? One wonders why an issue like that has not come up in interviews with him. It has been an issue circulating that Babangida sleeps with men too. And some of these men are his business fronts. He compensates them by making them his fronts. This issue came up against one of the Alliance for Democracy leaders. The man was suspected to be one of Babangida’s sleeping partners, benefited from the relationship by political appointment.


On May 30 1989, Nigerian University students embarked on anti-SAP riot, but it was a peaceful demonstration to liberate ourselves from perpetual economic slavery of Babangida and his colonial masters. The then Gbenga Olawepo (NANS PRO) and a student of University of Lagos, was in South Korea to represent Nigerian Students at a world conference.

Babangida had sent his SSS as Nigerian students, but the then Olawepo went and presented the true situation of Nigeria at the conference. We all saluted his courage then. This was embarrassing to Babangida, who declared Olawepo wanted, at that time Gbenga Komolafe, Student Union Speaker of University of Ibadan was also wanted. Olawepo was eventually arrested when he came back to the country; Komolafe too was arrested at Dugbe in Ibadan. Both were first detained at Shangisa, but got transferred to Kirikiri when they caught their middleman who went to deliver message to Mr. Femi Falana. The SSS man was arrested and sent to another jail, we don't where and what happened to him till date.


These guys were in detention for 6 months or more than that. At this time, 6 Universities were shut by Babangida for their involvement in the Anti-SAP demonstration. The Universities were not opened untill November 1989 from May 30. This actually marked the beginning of irregular academic calendar in our Universities, and it also greatly affected the exchange programme with foreign universities, many professors left our universities and things have not been the same since then.

In 1990 April 20, we woke up to another martial song, it was a revolution, not a coup. Contrary to general opinion, it succeeded, but they were not able to seize power. I said it succeeded because we all got the message of the proponents of this revolution. For the second time, we failed to yield to the wake-up call.


The first time was in 1967 when Odumegwu Ojukwu started the revolution, it was termed civil war, and Obasanjo is now claiming the glory of ending the war leaving out the likes of Benjamin Adekunle and the important role Pa Awolowo played in ending the "war." The second call came from Major Mukoro and his group, Gideon Orkar paid with his life. Rather than support them, we termed them tribalists. The likes of General Oladipo Diya, then GOC 82 Mechanized Division in Enugu came on air to condemn the revolution; Raji Rasaki too in Lagos did not support it. Though Ishaya Rizi Bamaiyi claimed the glory of stopping the revolt in Lagos, it was General Zidon Gandi who actually deserved the glory. Zidon was in Ikeja Cantonment as a Commander at that time, but because Zidon has problem expressing himself, all he said on that Sunday was "the dissidents have been dislodged." This was a turning point in Babangida's life. But for Sani Abacha, Babangida would have been dead by now. What did Abacha do? Abacha was busy with a hooker in one of his guest houses. Where was Babangida's deputy, Augustus Aikhomu? Oh, he was in a boat holding party with friends.


Though we were made to believe that the  ECOWAS Monitoring Group ECOMOG was set up to give helping hands to fellow West African countries, but the genuine intention of the creator was to settle score with the 123 Brigade Battalion, Ikeja Military Cantonment because of their alleged role in the April 20, 1990 revolution. They stayed in Liberia for two years and were later disbanded. The military under Babangida, according to his former Chief of Army Staff, Salihu Ibrahim, was an "anything goes military." Under Babangida we had a military infected with corruption; this period produced a large number of military millionaires. Promotion and appointments were not done strictly on merit but on godfatherism. Babangida's regime laid the foundation of what Nigerians later experienced under late Sani Abacha and still continue to experience under Olusegun Obasanjo.



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