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Would you wish Nigeria to die for you instead…?

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General Ibrahim Babangida


The circle of election declaration process finishes when the candidate who ran against the winner calls the winner to congratulate him or her. That is the private and perhaps the most difficult part for the loser in the election. Then, he makes a public announcement revealing the fact that he had called the Brother or Sister Elect and congratulated him or her on the victory. He concedes victory and wishes the Elect good luck and success in office.

The loser might not feel comfortable doing any of these things. He might have campaigned so vigorously that he so convinced himself he would win that he could not imagine a speech of concession of victory to the opponent. He might feel no goodwill to the Elect and it could be that the last thing he wishes him or her are good luck and success in office. All these sentiments are natural and to be expected. But Democracy, as it has evolved, needs it.The losing candidate must agree that the elections were free and fair and the person declared winner won fair and square.

It is against this background that one asks why somebody has not asked Bashir Tofa to concede victory to MKO Abiola before the honours were showered on the winner of the election and his running mate. All these years Bashir Tofa has not expressed himself on the conduct of the election and the winning of it as well as the winner.If the conduct of the election won so many accolades making it the highest point of our democratic journey, the annulling of its result marks the lowest point of the history of our country. Professor Omo Omoruyi’s book on the annulling of the election gives the terrible details. The lowest point of Nigeria’s history was reached under General Ibrahim Babangida.

More and more, the claim of the military to have saved this country from disintegration sounds hollow the more details we learn of the story of Nigeria.General Babangida claims that Sani Abacha, General Dongoyaro, General David Mark and another general were going to kill him and the president elect Bashorun MKO Abiola. He goes on further to assert that he owed his elevation and existence to Sani Abacha. So, if Sani Abacha did not want MKO Abiola, he, General Babangida, will not impose MKO Abiola on Sani Abacha. And if the country voted for MKO Abiola as the president, the country wants too bad for the country. The country would not get what it wants because of one or two individuals.

General Babangida declares that he would not get himself killed because of what the country wants. No matter what the ideals might say, General Babangida will not die for his country. Rather, he would rather his country dies for him. And in a way, the country has been dying since then.Look left and you no longer find the idealists of the past who cried for Justice and peace and equality for all. Look to the right, you do not find the privileged ones who believed in working hard for their privileges. You look in front nobody is going forward. You look behind there is no direction there. As for the central position, it is a pit that is swallowing everybody.

At some point Prof Omoruyi claims that General Babangida asked for psychiatric attention. He needed a doctor to examine his head because he was sure he was not well in his head. We are not told if a psychiatrist was brought to him. Or he was taken for psychiatric attention. One reason that there could have caused mental fatigue is the difficult situation of promising one thing to two or more people.Somewhere along the line, by words or by deeds, the leadership position of the country was promised to General Sani Abacha. During the transition to civilian rule, different friends of General Babangida came to ask if there was a vacancy in Aso Rock. At first, General Babangida made it plain that there was no vacancy. In fact, Bashorun Abiola told me in South Africa that the late Miriam Babangida accused him of wanting their job.

Some months later Bashorun MKO Abiola joyfully informed me that there was now a vacancy and that General Babangida swore on the Qur’an that there was a vacancy. Other friends who approached the General were also told that there was indeed a vacancy in Aso Rock and the campaign and contest could commence.Did General Babangida carry his colleagues along as to the availability of the headship of the country? Or was it a case of saying “when we come to the bridge, we shall double-cross it”?

Resources were made available with the Democracy Centre headed by Prof. Omo Omoruyi. By the way General Babangida told him also that he would be killed if the process went ahead unto declaration of the winner of the elections. Candidates for the parties contested and MKO Abiola became the candidate of the party a little to the left while Bashorun Tofa became the candidate for the party a little to the right. Resources were expended on election campaigns throughout the country. Resources that have never been properly calculated. How much was wasted on that June 1993 elections?

Voting closed and counting began. The bridge had arrived or rather the country had arrived at the bridge and the leadership of the country was saying that the country should double-cross their dream and their democratic aspirations and ambitions.

Over the years this column has maintained two positions. The first is that corruption is not the problem of Nigeria. Rather the problem is unpunished corruption. The second position is that, with the exception of one political leader of the period into and after independence our political leaders have been failures in spite of believing themselves to be successful. But how can we have successful politicians of an unsuccessful country? If the various heads of state had been successful leaders would Nigeria be such a failure?Many of the persons mentioned in this story are alive. David Mark. Dongoyaro. And Bashorun Tofa. We need to hear from them so that this country will not die.
bankole.omotoso@elizadeuniversity.edu.ng


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