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Babangida and the future of Nigeria

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Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida


Sir: At 80, General Ibrahim Babangida, who ruled Nigeria from August 27, 1985 to August 1993, is deemed to be a perfect Nigerian paradox. In the interview with Arise TV, IBB admits how he was genuinely “Maradonic” – the counter-intuitive spontaneous propensities of scoring for one’s team by flouting the rules – in his approach to leadership. Little wonder, then, that the General would annul the generally acceptable freest and fairest election, held on June 12, 1993, in the Nigerian polity on June 23, 1993, which fundamentally was underpinned on retrieving Nigeria from military men who had no idea of Nigeria,

But has the narrative changed? Even in the democratic dispensation? How is that supposed to be when, largely, the country and its leaders have not changed? It’s simply a matter-of-fact statement that the table is turned, routinely, to delegate, select, choose same-set of disgruntled knaves who have the knack to perpetually divide the dividends of democracy among them.

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That the next president should be within the age bracket of 60, as IBB said, is “annulling” the modern temper of democratisation, where age is not really a criterion for successful leadership. In particular, Barack Obama, 44th United States President, bagged Presidency when he was aged 47. President Bill Clinton describing him, also oxymoronically, as someone who’s “cool” on the outside and on “fire” in the inside during his presidential campaign in 2008. Clinton disinterestedly remarked that’s who America needs. Obviously, then, is not presidency based on race, colour, age, or any mysterious and mischievous yonder yardsticks. In his re-election, in 2016, Clinton again put to the crowd how Obama was uncharacteristically able to tackle climate problems, white supremacy, domestic terrorism, institutional racism, at least to a very considerable extent. That’s not to say there’s no killing or shooting of black lives, but far, far incomparable to the manageristic – or, if you like, materialistic – tactics of his white successor, President Donald Trump. How paradoxical that the blacks would be agents of national integration of America!

IBB also identified friendship as an important hallmark of who better leads Nigeria. That I think should have been needless to say, because, our electioneering mechanism in Nigeria is cloaked by what I call “selectioneering,” where a certain group of sit-back, nay sit-tight leaders, who are of course listening, watching and studying, are regulating this selectional – not democratic – process of who leads the country, on the perverse procurement of the spoils of office precipitated by the spoils of power. Having friends all over the country is not a tested grundnorm of progressive politics or politicking. Beyond America, 45th U.S. President Donald Trump had very powerful friends spanning across the Middle East, Asia and South America and yet was a gross unemployment crisis erupted and disrupted the economy, with hundreds of thousands of lives lost to the raging coronavirus pandemic.
Segun Ige is a freelance journalist in Lagos.

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Ibrahim Babangida
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