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06.08.2021 Opinion OPINION: IBB of All People Speaking about the Ideal Nigerian Leader?

Published 6th Aug, 2021

By Tola Owoyele

Twenty-eight years after annulling the June 12 1993 presidential election and subsequently exiting power, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, former Nigeria Head of State, has continued to show Nigerians that even in old age, he still possesses the manipulative frame of mind that earned him the sobriquet “Maradona”.

In an Interview he granted AriseNews TV to commemorate is upcoming 80th birthday, Babangida did much to deftly answer sensitive questions bothering around the activities of his government while he was still head of state, and more importantly what he thought he could have done better as president.

I however felt a jolt go through my core when IBB (as he is fondly called because of his name’s initials) made an interesting comment about who an ideal leader should be. I watched in amazement as he said Nigeria should be okay if she gets a leadership that links with the people, tries to talk with the people and not talk on top of the people.

Here is one man that has refused to give a much desired closure to Nigerians despite the many atrocities that were committed under his reign.

Talk about corruption, the lingo “Chop Make I Chop” became popular under his administration as Nigerians witnessed countless instances of massive embezzlement and acts of corruption by officials and cabinet members that were in his government. The exchange of “Brown Envelope” also became the order of the day as bribery became a norm as far as currying favours and getting things done quickly were concerned.

It is shocking to hear him say corruption in Nigeria has become worse under civilian rule than it was under the military.

Also, how such a leader now feels it is convenient to talk about who an ideal leader should be becomes really baffling.

On the unlawful arrest and incarceration of Nigerian activists that was a constant feature under his administration, I am sure people like the late Fela Anikulapo-Kuti and Gani fawehinmi would be turning in their respective graves right now after hearing Maradona’s comments on ideal leadership.

Dele Giwa’s mysterious death will forever remain a case in point if we are to talk about the various means and techniques the IBB administration devised to instill fear in anyone it thought posed a threat to its continued reign.

The popular Newswatch editor had died on October 19 1986, after receiving a parcel bomb, and only 2 days after being warned by the State Security Service against publishing stories that could “embarrass” the government.

Giwa’s death did not only send a clear message to other people the IBB regime tagged “potential threats”, common citizens felt the heat too. After the incident, people were afraid to open their mails for months.

Till date, Giwa’s murder remains unsolved, even as IBB has refused to offer an explanation on it.

Any Nigerian that witnessed the June 12 1993 elections would brazenly tell anyone that cared to listen that it forever remains the freest and fairest election in the country’s history. However, as many Nigerians looked forward to M.K.O Abiola being declared winner, Maradona came up with a never-before-seen move by annulling the election. In the months that followed, he put an icing on the cake by coming up with another move — ‘stepping aside’.

The rest became history as Abiola died in 1998, hoping his mandate would be restored.

When he was asked by the Arise TV presenter if he had any regrets especially in the role he played in the annulment of the election, I held my breath, hoping I would hear something different from an old man who has seen it all, and would soon turn 80.

But in the end, I was left disappointed. Maradona showed me he still gat game by dishing out a fresh comment from his bag of mind games. He said his administration had to annul the elections after deep consultations with the people in his government, and in a bid to avoid a looming Coup D’etat.

I am sure most Nigerians would be wondering the coup d’etat he was talking about. The man even took pride in saying he got the name Maradona from the Nigerian media because of his ‘deft political moves’.

Frankly speaking, I believe every single Nigerian deserves an apology from IBB over the role he played in the many ills that were witnessed under his regime, and more importantly, his decision to annul the 1993 elections. Delaying this would further damage his reputation as he gets closer to his grave.

Published 6th Aug, 2021

By Tola Owoyele

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