Major Buba Marwa was at the time rewarded with the rank of Lt. Col. and posted to the Nigerian Embassy in Washington, USA, as the new Military Attaché. His rise in the Army was extremely rapid and as Col. retuned home to be Governor of Lagos State. Armed robbers welcomed him to his new office with the kind of daredevilry never before experienced in Nigeria. Violence begets violence they say. The armed robbers raided from Mile two to Ikeja, even as he was passing by. Marwa panicked, so Babangida pumped unusual resources into Marwa's coffers to ensure his success, which is the genesis of his tramping around as an achiever today. His private life does not suggest that he suffered in fool's paradise.
Marwa, Ogbeha, and Gwazo, have since denied their alleged involvement in Dele Giwa's murder. Marwa, who now owns an airline and, therefore, knows that it takes less than eight hours to fly across the Atlantic to Nigeria, argued that he was studying in the USA at the time. The implication of this, of course, was that it was impossible to take a few days off his studies.
Marwa, who rose to fame through IBB's benevolence, is considered in military circles as one of the IBB boys, made up principally of the trusted cronies of the retired dictator. Accused of laundering money for IBB, Marwa again relied on the puerile argument that he was the Borno state governor in 1990, as if state governors are too busy governing diligently to travel out of Nigeria for a day or two, or even a week, on private businesses.
In December, 2005, when Marwa was detained for a couple of weeks by the EFCC, for laundering money for Abacha, he allegedly admitted that he had no choice in the matter as a military officer. He was only doing his duty. Of course, doing illegal duties loyally often goes with silencing, mouth-watering pecks, if nothing else.
In the area of managing the national economy, Babangida bestowed his adroitness and moral degeneracy. His economy was dominated by male-wives, particularly in the banking and oil sectors. Women often brag about the efficacy of 'bottom' power. Feminine men sometimes flaunt it too as their passport to economic liberation. Between them and the suddenly very lucrative 419 business of the time, industry was complete. IBB's chiefs, allegedly colluded with 419 criminals to create the over-night semi-illiterate money-bags without class or shame, (including the 150 members of the National Assembly, that in 2005 sent IBB a birthday card), and who together now form the bulk of his supporters and campaigners, to return him to power.
Babangida (sapped) or totally wiped the middle class out of existence with the destruction of the naira, which he did by fiat in 1985, when he down graded the naira exchange rate from about N2 to N18 to the dollar. By the time he was forced out of office in 1993, the naira was exchanging at N60 to the dollar. Society was now reduced to two social classes of either the very poor or the rich rogues.
Babangida first concentrated on pulverizing his military base by tinkering with the 1985 Decree 17, to give himself sole authority to fire his military chiefs, including the chief of general staff; chairman, joint chiefs of staff; service chiefs, and the inspector general of police. General Domkat Bali said at the time: "Babangida must have known what he was aiming at if you now take those powers of the President as civilian, and you now put them on any army officer who then sits with other army officers, in the name of Supreme Military Council, SMC, who are useless to him, whom he can change tomorrow, that means that name is not Supreme at all."
Bali was provoked to leave the government when he was demoted from the position of Minister of Defence to that of Internal Affairs. Ukiwe, a senior naval officer, who was IBB's deputy, was forced to retire even before Bali did, for demonstrating patriotic zeal in defense of team spirit, over our IOC membership saga.
Gideon Orkar's failed coup of April 22, 1990, provided Babangida with the opportunity to further purge the military. With total control over the military, IBB was ready to pursue his President-for- life agenda, (starting) by dismissing his S. J. Cookie's Political Bureau programme for the return to civil rule by 1990.
For over eight years, Babangida kept shifting his handing over date and juggling his transition programme by arbitrarily banning and unbanning politicians, particularly the known opponents of military rule. He spent N40 billion on his endless transition programme, and bribed all and sundry, including the NLC with N50 million, NUJ with N20 million, PMAN with N30 million, and so on, to try to silence them. He attempted to compromise some vocal critics by settling them, and those he could not recruit, he sacked where possible, or detained, or killed, or hounded into exile.
Less than two years into his rule in 1987, IBB announced that he was planning to bequeath a lasting legacy of civil rule, through a gradual learning political process. Four years into his regime in 1989, he lifted for the first time his ban on partisan politics, and set up two political parastatals. One was called the Social Democratic Party (SDP), and the other was the National Republican Convention (NRC).
The handing over date to civilian government was postponed once again from late 1990 to the 1st of October 1992. He allowed elections to be held into the local governments in 1990, and in 1991, Babangida instigated intra party squabbles to find excuse to ban 12 of the candidates participating in the governorship elections. Candidates replacing the disqualified ones had barely one week to campaign.
Elections into the State Assemblies miraculously held without too much acrimony, followed shortly afterwards by elections into the National Assembly. In all the elections, known individuals strongly against Babangida or the military in power were sidelined, banned, or hounded into exile, prominent among whom were Ibrahim Tahir of the NPN, Sam Mbakwe, Chris Okolie, Wahab Dosumu, Ebenezer Babatope, etc.
Allegation of massive rigging was invoked on 17 November, 1992, to ban Adamu Ciroma and Shehu Musa Yar Adua, who had emerged from party primaries as presidential candidates for the NRC and the SDP respectively, and 21 other presidential aspirants, (including Chief Arthur Nzeribe, Chief Olu Falae, Alhaji Lateef Jakande and Alhaji Umar Shinkafi), from participating in the scheduled August 1992 presidential election, and all other future elections. The trick was that Babangida was gradually narrowing the field of potential presidential materials to himself. Remember that Babangida had promised Yar Adua the Presidency when Yar Adua helped to actualize the 1985 coup that brought Babangida to power. The ban did not go down well with the political elite in general, and particularly with Yar Adua who had assumed he would take over leadership from Babangida.
With the ban, Babangida once again postponed his handing over date from October 1st 1992, to Dec 5, 1992. Soon after, Babangida mandated the National Electoral Commission (NEC), to conduct the presidential primaries of the political parties, and he again fixed a new date of January 3, 1993, for the handing over of the reigns of power to a civilian government. Bribery, thuggery, rigging, ethnic cleavages, etc., ruined the NEC supervised political parties' presidential primaries, resulting in the dissolution of party executives, who were replaced by Sole Administrators, and National Coordinators. Handing over date was once again postponed to August 27, 1993.
Baba Gana Kingibe, who was the SDP chairman before the dissolution of the party executives, and was then supposed to be managing the affairs of Yar Adua, was alleged to have received Babangida's backing and financial support to aspire as presidential candidate obviously to cause confusion in Yar Adua's political camp. Kingibe pasted his campaign posters all over the place, causing bad blood between himself and Yar Adua, which spilled into the Jos SDP convention of 1993.
In the meantime, Babangida was busy creating anarchy in the ranks of the politicians by introducing his modified open ballot system, and insisting that presidential aspirants go through tedious ward, local government, and state congresses. This eventually produced two presidential aspirants for each of the states, plus two for the FCT, and the unwieldy 62 presidential aspirants had to go through further elimination processes, at various national congresses, before the Jos (SDP), and Port-Harcourt (NRC), conventions of 1993.
Several irregularities were observed at the party conventions and a lot of money changed hands.
Alhaji Bashir Tofa for the NRC, and Bashorun M.K.O Abiola for the SDP, emerged as the presidential flag bearers. Babangida who was unhappy that progress was being made in the presidential election process was further pissed-off when his nominee, Pascal Bafyau, the ex-NLC president, as Abiola's running mate, (to spy on and undermine Abiola), was rejected by Abiola. Abiola also upset Yar Adua's calculations, by not accepting Abubakir Atiku as his running mate, and choosing Baba Gana Kingibe instead.
Of course, the emergence at last of promising presidential candidates for both parties was not a very palatable option for Abacha too who was still nursing the dream to succeed Babangida although pretending to be on the side of Babangida. Abacha misled Babangida to think of him as a possible ally, so the scene was set for Babangida to feel that if he annulled the election, he would have the support of Abacha, Yar Adua and other perceived, powerful enemies of Abiola, including a leading traditional ruler in the South-West.
Babangida, in his determination to scuttle the presidential election at all cost, promulgated Decree 13, forbidding the presidential flag bearers of the two political parties from doing anything whatsoever that would influence members of the public to vote for them at the election scheduled for June 12 1993. Then Babangida empowered NEC to disqualify any of the candidates at will, and as a (final) fall back strategy, to scuttle our democratic dream, he set up his Association for Better Nigeria (ABN) party, using Senator Arthur Nzeribe as proxy.
On June 10, 1993, at the unholy hour of 9.30 pm, late Justice Ikpeme, who was appointed a few days earlier and hurriedly transferred from Lagos to Abuja, granted a court order to the ABN, restraining the NEC Chairman Humphrey Nwosu, from conducting the Presidential election on June 12, 1993.
The Director of the United States Information Service (USIS) in Nigeria at the time, Mr. O'Brien, warned that the US government would not be happy if the June 12 election was cancelled. Babangida panicked, and although he declared O'Brien persona non grata and ordered him out of the country in his personal interest, Babangida allowed Nwosu to go ahead with the election.
The election was adjudged by the international and local observers monitoring it and by the two political parties involved, as the fairest and freest in the history of Nigeria. By the evening of June 14 1993, more than 50% of the election results had been authenticated and released by NEC, showing that SDP's Moshood Abiola had swept the polls.
To everyone's surprise, Babangida suddenly ordered NEC not to release any more results. On June 23, 1993, Babangida gave an unsigned statement to Nduka Irabor, his press secretary, announcing the cancellation of the presidential election on the radio. The unsigned statement was a strategy to allow Babangida to deny its authenticity, should Nigeria begin to boil over the announcement. Nigerians had become too hungry and docile to react.
Babangida annulled the June12 election entirely on his own, based on his selfish, personal agenda to rule indefinitely. Before annulling the election, he rallied the connivance and support of some critical Emirs and a leading Yoruba traditional ruler known to be antagonistic to Abiola's political ambition, and the signatures of a bunch of political and military apologists (or jobbers), tagged the G-34, on a document entitled 'Peace Pact,' in endorsement of his annulment of the June 12, 1993, elections.
The G-34 comprised of the following members of the military junta and leaders of the two political parties, the SDP and the NRC: Admiral Augustus Aikhomu, Chief Earnest Shonekan who eventually headed Babangida's contraption called the Interim National Government (ING), General Shehu Musa Yar'ardua, Alhaji Sule Lamido, Alhaji Adamu Ciroma, Amb. Dele Cole, Chief Tony Anenih, Chief Jim Nwobodo, Brig-Gen David A. B Mark, Alhaji Abubakar Rimi, Alhaji Olusola Saraki, Chief Dapo Sarumi, Chief Joseph Toba, Chief Bola Afonja, Dr. Hammed Kusamotu, Dr. Okechukwu Odunze, Prof. Eyo Ita, Y. Anka, Alhaji Bashir Dalhatu, Chief Tom Ikimi, Barrister Joe Nwodo (who signed with reservations) , Dr. Bawa Salka, Alhaji Abba Murtala Mohammed, Alhaji Abdulrahman Okene, Lt. Gen Joshua Dongoyaro, Lt. Gen Aliyu Mohammed Gusau, Brig-Gen John Shagaya, Brig-Gen Anthony Ukpo, Halilu A. Maina, Alhaji Bawa Salka, Mr. Amos Idakula, Mr. Theo Nikire, Alhaji A. Ramalan, Alhaji A. Mohammed. Many of these traitors are still making decisions for Nigeria today.
Babangida's military constituency, by and large, was against the annulment. Abacha saw his opportunity to act, and with the backing of the armed forces of Nigeria, warned Babangida that he would be entirely on his own after the August 27, 1993, handing over date. Babangida in fear, concocted and swore in an illegal arrangement he called the Interim National Government, ING, to take over office from August 27, 1993. After swearing in his ING on August 26, 1993, Babangida who was supposed to be pulled out of the army in the military tradition, played all sorts of pranks to delay the event from 11.am to 1.00pm and then to 3.00pm, when the Nigerian army removed Babangida's guards from the Eagle Square to warn him that his time was up.
There is this strong allegation among the rank and file of the armed forces, and members of the defense correspondence of our newspapers attached to the seat of power, that Babangida arranged, in the last couple of weeks before leaving office, for several armoured vehicle loads of newly printed naira notes to be delivered daily to his new Minna palatial abode obviously with the connivance of Abacha, perhaps as his mentor's retirement benefit.
Abacha and Babangida had several serious financial problems with Abiola but one of them takes the cake. It was over some foreign war booty amounting to US$215m. It is alleged that Babangida had asked Abiola to help launder it when Babangida was in office but Abiola was not interested.
Babangida allegedly side-stepped Abiola and eventually prevailed upon a member of Abiola's family in the custom of family friendship, to rescue the situation. Then the person suddenly died. It is further alleged that Abiola was asked to return the money and he truthfully and honestly said he knew noting about it and even if there was such a thing, he had no authority over the matter. Then he was asked to pressurize the children of the deceased to play ball.
Abiola refused, arguing that he had no legal or moral right to do so. The kids of the deceased wanted Abiola released but Abiola was too principled to succumb to blackmail so the powers that be decided early after his arrest, that he would die in detention for declaring himself president.
The Gulf war oil windfall is Babangida's often-referenced loot. Abacha set up a panel headed by the highly respected economist, Pius Okigbo, in October, 1994, to reorganize the CBN. Okigbo's panel discovered that $12.2 billion of the $12.4 billion accruable from the Gulf War excess crude oil sales was frittered away or unaccounted for, through nebulous or phantom projects that could not be traced. Only $206 million was left in the account. According to Okigbo, "disbursements were clandestinely undertaken while the country was openly reeling with crushing external debt overhead. These represent, no matter the initial justification for creating the account, a gross abuse of public trust. "
When Obasanjo in 2001, decided to look quietly into the missing NNPC's US$12.2 billion Gulf war oil windfall linked to Babangida, it was found that the documents pertaining to the fraud had disappeared from the volts of the Central Bank. The brilliant, highly respected economist, Pius Okigbo who handled the investigations into the scam had private copies. Before he could deliver, he insisted on travelling to London against strong, wise, private, counsel, and he was wasted. Other members of the Okigbo panel had copies of the report anyway and were still alive.
Government miraculously found the CBN documents when it suited it, and aspects of the documents concerning IBB, were published during the threat by members of the House of Representatives to impeach President Obasanjo in July, 2005, because of speculations that IBB was one of the Northern elites fanning the plot.
Babangida was ruthless in the way he amassed his colossal wealth. First is the illegal self-allocation of free oil, sold on the spot market. Then he initiated the corrupt culture of maintaining a huge monthly security vote virtually as personal pocket money. Rather than repair our refineries, let alone to work at maximum capacity, IBB built private refineries in Cote d'Ivoire and the Republic of Benin, where he took our crude to refine and sell back to us as fuel.
John Fashanu, in a private investigation published in African Confidential early in Obasanjo's current regime, discovered an alleged $6 billion debt buy-back scam by IBB between 1988 and 1993. Another $14.4 billion disappeared into off shore accounts as currency stabilization and debt buy-back scheme that actually cost $2.5 billion. One of the front-companies used, Growth Management, based in London, bought the debt for 10 cents per dollar and resold to the government at 45 cents to steal 35 cents per dollar. Fashanu was trying to recover about $17 billion for the Nigerian government only for the CBN to say they had no records of the deals. The records are out there abroad but cleaned out at home to conceal the (theft) deals.
The Wolfsberg Principles, an initiative of 11 banks and institutions across the world to fight serious international financial crimes, traced another $3 billion of our stolen money to Babangida's accounts abroad, and $4.3 billion to Abacha's.
Although Babangida used mostly fictitious names for his numerous accounts abroad, EFCC could zero in on some of the accounts by following up on the dusts raised early in 2003 over the financing of a leading Nigerian telecommunications project in which Babangida is alleged to own 75% shares. Mohammed fronts for his father on the authentic board of the company. Those claiming to have borrowed from foreign banks in the heat of the EFCC's revelations at the time have not identified the collateral or sortie used. Documents on the loan supposed to have been granted on 9 February, 2001, was dated 28 August, 2006. The original 'loan' letter has not been presented. Apparently, Paribas Bank, based in Paris, was managing a slush fund from which investments in excess of US$400 million was made to buy into Alcatel, (the telecommunications' partner technical partners), Bouygues Telecoms, Peugeot and Total finaelf.
Alcatel and Parabel National of France were worried at the time that their invoices for the telecom project were being inflated to launder funds by the supposed private owners of the sources of funds and that private cheques were being issued to finance the staggering project without recourse to borrowing from banks. They suspected illegal laundering of funds and threatened to withdraw collaboration on the project while alerting Interpol to investigate the sources of the private cheques being issued to finance the project.
IBB could not participate in Obasanjo's 2003, inauguration ceremonies, because he was allegedly out of the country sorting out the Interpol queries on the Alcatel's slush account alert, at the time. Even now, the telecoms' financing details through Siemens etc, could be investigated by the EFCC tracing ghost cheques to issuing private sources of funds and their local and international banks to unravel possible laundering of funds.
Luscious contracts for the construction of Abuja were awarded to front-companies of his and his cronies, including Julius Berger and Arab Contractors that between them virtually single-handedly handled the construction of the new Federal Capital. The security danger of foreign companies solely constructing a country's capital and having assess to its structural secrets, including possible Presidential underground escape routes and military arsenal volts, is mind boggling to say the least, but that is an issue for another day.
The largest, most prestigious housing estate in Alexandra, Egypt's leading holiday resort town, is alleged to belong to Babangida. Even Egyptians cannot afford his rent, which is alleged to be in dollars. All his tenants are rich foreigners and the staff of multi-national companies operating in Alexandra. The estate is alleged to have its own airport, which Babangida uses when he visits.
Babangida is alleged to own several other housing estates around the world, including houses on Bishop Avenue in London. He uses his London houses, it is alleged, as guest houses or gifts for people on his compromise list. He is considered generous with gifts of cars with their boots stuffed with naira notes when he wants some jobs done.
Perhaps you would want to join me to play the prude accountant, generous with figures. Let's pretend that Babangida was a General throughout his service years in the Nigerian army. Again let's assume he spent 30 years in the army and was paid N100,000 monthly (actually, salaries of Generals were less than N10,000 a month until recently) and he saved every kobo of his salary. He would be worth about N35,000,000 plus interest in the bank today. But Babangida's 50 bedroom palatial abode in Minna is alleged to be conservatively worth billions of naira and he does not owe any bank on it.
In 2003, he threw a wedding party for his first daughter, which numbed the nation. Some 28 governors were in attendance, and in June 2004, he treated us to another dream-like political carnival during his son's wedding. No one dared to ask where the money came from to set up such a palatial abode or scandalous and intimidating wedding carnivals in our jungle of abject poverty and hunger. Nigerians reveled in the lavish show of shame, hoodwinked by the audacity, the sumptuous food, the ambience, the vulgarity..... At least we saw our fellow Nigerians (albeit a handful of them), living it up on the money that could have guaranteed millions of Nigerians, active, regular employment indefinitely.
Almost all the principal characters involved in leadership tussles with Babangida since 1985, Abiola, Yar Adua, Idiagbon and even Abacha, have all died through induced cardiac arrest, lethal injection, poisoned food, gassed telephone handset, etc, etc, and my fear is whether Nigeria would survive the Godfather himself? Babangida usurped eight years and eight months of the thirty-three years of military misrule and still wants to come back to finish us off properly. If he was honest with himself, he ought to be ashamed for the economic, political and social mess he has turned Nigeria into. Babangida should be heading for Kirikiri not Aso Rock.
NAIWU OSAHON Hon. Khu Mkuu (Leader) World Pan-African Movement); Ameer Spiritual (Spiritual Prince) of the African race; MSc. (Salford); Dip.M.S; G.I.P.M; Dip.I.A (Liv.); D. Inst. M; G. Inst. M; G.I.W.M; A.M.N.I.M. Poet, Author of the magnum opus: 'The end of knowledge'. One of the world's leading authors of children's books; Awarded; key to the city of Memphis, Tennessee, USA; Honourary Councilmanship, Memphis City Council; Honourary Citizenship, County of Shelby; Honourary Commissionership, County of Shelby, Tennessee; and a silver shield trophy by Morehouse College, USA, for activities to unite and uplift the African race.
Naiwu Osahon renowned author, philosopher of science, mystique, leader of the world Pan-African Movement.