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The cross Babangida still carries at 80

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Ibrahim Babangida


General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, (GCFR), will be 80 on Tuesday August 17. He is the second longest serving Military ruler in Nigeria, the first being General Yakubu Gowon (GCFR), who ruled Nigeria from August 1, 1966 to July 29, 1975. General Babangida ruled Nigeria from 27 August 1985-26 August 1993. His classmates at Government College Bida were General Abdusalam Abubakar (GCFR), General Mohammed Mamman Magoro, Major General Mamman Jiya Vatsa, Major General Muhammed Gado Nasko, Major General Garba Duba, Mr. Paul Babale, Aliyu Makama, Ibrahim Sanda, Abulmaliki Ndayako, Mohammed Bello Ndayako, Abdulrahim Dangana and Alhaji Alhassan Bisallat.

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Till today, historians are still debating his role in the project called Nigeria. One cannot be neutral when discussing General Babangida, you either like him passionately or dislike him passionately. At the time General Babangida took over power, one fifth, if not one-third of Nigerians of today were not born.

Maybe a chronology of what he did may help define the man to the present generation of Nigerians. He made major decisions that he will carry to his grave. In July 1986, he introduced the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) and on September 29, 1986, the second-tier foreign exchange market took off. He moved the seat of government from Lagos to Abuja on December 12, 1991. He completed and commissioned the Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos on August 17, 1991, which was by then the longest bridge in Africa. On March 15, 1988, he launched the new population policy of one woman four children to check the problem of over population in the country. On September 9, 1987, he created Akwa-Ibom and Katsina states. On August 27, 1991, he created Abia, Anambra, Delta, Jigawa, Kebbi, Kogi, Osun, Yobe and Taraba states. He then created 47 new local governments on that day. On September 23, 1991, he created additional 89 local governments. On December 14, 1991, governorship elections were held, the National Republican Convention won 16 while Social Democratic Party won 14. On January 2, 1992, the democratically elected governors were sworn-in along with their deputies.

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They were Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu and Clement Nwankwo (Abia), Alhaji Sale Michika and Mr. Lynn Nathan (Adamawa), Obong Akpan Semin and Etim Okpoyo (Akwa Ibom), Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife and Dr. Chidi Mwike (Anambra), Alhaji Dahiru Mohammed and Alhaji Umaru Ahmed (Bauchi), Reverend Father Moses Adasu and Yakubu Agada (Benue), Alhaji Maiji Lawan and Alhaji Hassan (Borno), Clement Ebri and Cecilia Ekpeyong (Cross River), Felix Ibru and Samson Ebonka (Delta), John Odiegie Oyegun and Reverend Peter Obada (Edo), Okwesilieze Nwodo and Dr. Icha Ituma (Enugu), Evans Enwerem and Dr. Douglas Acholonu (Imo), Alhaji A.S. Biminkudi and Alhaji Shehu Kwafalo (Jigawa), Alhaji Muhammed Lere and James Mugaji (Kaduna), Alhaji Kabiru Gaya and Alhaji Ahmed Usman (Kano), Alhaji Saidu Barda and Alhaji Abdullahi Amidu (Katsina), Alhaji Shaaba Lafiaji and Prince Ojo Fadumila (Kwara), Alhaji Abubakar Musa and Alhaji Aliyu Mohammed (Kebbi). Others are Alhaji Abubakar Audu and S. Ola Akande (Kogi), Chief Michael Otedola and Alhaji Sinatu Ojikutu (Lagos), Dr. Musa Inuwa and Alhaji Jibo Garba (Niger), Chief Olusegun Osoba the Aremo and Alhaji Rafiu Ogunleye (Ogun), Chief Bamidele Olumilua and Dr Olusegun Agagu (Ondo), Alhaji Isiaka Adeleke and Clement Adesuyi Haastrup (Osun), Kolapo Ishola and Alhaji Ahmed Gbadamosi (Oyo), Fidelis Tapgun and Alhaji Bala Usman (Plateau), Rufus Ada-George and Dr. Peter Odili (Rivers), Alhaji Yahaya Abdulkarim and Alhaji Ahmed Gusau(Sokoto), Reverend Jolly Nyame and Alhaji S.D. Gani (Taraba) and Alhaji Abba Ibrahim and Alhaji Goni Bura (Yobe).

On July 4, 1992, elections were held into the two houses of the National Assembly, NRC won 37 Senate seats and 275 seats in the House of Representatives while SDP won 52 Senate seats and 314 seats in the House of Representatives.

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On June 23, 1993, General Babangida annulled the Presidential election held on June 12, 1993. It was the last act that turned out to be tragic both for General Babangida and the country. The annulment is a cross he still carries today.  He paid for that act by “stepping aside” on 26 August 1993. Too many scholars, writers and commentators have implied that many of Nigeria’s problems worsened by the annulment. The old hostile exaggeration still persists till today. Hostile exaggeration can make true perspective much difficult for the living.

But then, there are those who beseeched and supplicated and still plead till today that as a forgiving country we should forego that cardinal sin committed by General Babangida 28 years ago and let bygones be bygones and that afterall, many polluted and contaminated waters have passed under the collapsing Nigeria bridge. They insisted and still insist that to judge a man by just one act in his 80-year tenure is harsh, unfair, inapt, discordant, hypocritical and sanctimonious. Some are still arguing, not all, that the annulment is not worse than the insecurity and splits in our social tribal and religious fabrics of today where inadequacies and inequalities have become paramount in our nation life.

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Fifty three ministers served under General Ibrahim Babangida during his tenure. They were Alhaji Ibrahim Zakaw, Professor Tam David-West, Major-General Jiya Vatsa, Brigadier Jeremiah Timbut Useni, Alhaji Abubakar Umar, Lt-Colonel Anthony Ukpo, Senas Ukpanah, Air Vice- Marshal Ishaya Aboi Shekari, Professor Sam Oyovbaire, Dr. Tunji Olagunju, Air Vice-Marshal Anthony Okpere, Dr. Chu Okongwu, Major-General Ike Omar Sanda Nwachukwu, Major-General Muhammadu Gado Nasko, Dr. Shetima Mustapha, Alhaji Bunu Sheriff Musa, Prince Tony Momoh, Alhaji Ismaila Mamman, Major-General Abdullahi Bagudu Mamman, Alhaji Lawal Mala, Brigadier David Bonavontoure Mark, Alhaji Rilwanu Lukman, Air Commodore Adebayo Hammed Lawal, Professor Olikoye Ransome-Kuti, Major-General Yohanna Yerima Kure, Rear Admiral Koshoni, Major-General Mamman Tsofo Kontagora, Dr. Kalu Idika Kalu, Air Vice-Marshal Nuradeen Mohammed Imam, Air Commodore Anthony Ikhazobor, Olawale Ige, Zakari Ibrahim, Alhaji Abubakar Hashidu, Air Commodore Lamba Deng Gwom, T.O. Graham Douglas, Olu Falae, Professor Babatunde Fafunwa, Eyoma Ita Eyoma, Professor Emmanuel Emovon and Professor Gordian Ezekwe.

Others are Major-General Domkat Yah Bali, Lt-Colonel Abubakar Tanko Ayuba, Alhaji Mamman Ankah, Professor Jubril Aminu, Alhaji Abubakar Alhaji, Clement Akpamgbo, Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, Alex Akinyele, Lt-General (rtd) Julius Alani Ipoola Akinrinade, Prince Bola Ajibola, Alhaji Ahmed Abubakar, Air Commodore Hamza Abdullahi, Lt-Colonel Ahmed Aboki Abdullahi and General Sani Abacha.

To be continued tomorrow

Teniola, a former Director at the Presidency, wrote from Lagos.

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