Apart from Obasanjo, Babangida is the greatest evil ever to befall any country
in the world)-All that Babangida, (nicknamed IBB), has to show for his over
eight years in power in Nigeria, is private colossal wealth, and the edification
of corruption in our body politics. Yes, he is richer than many African
governments and can buy who ever he wants, but he ruined our lives to reach
there. The book, The Sink, by Jeffrey Robinson, an American writer, says it
all about Babangida. "Of the $120 billion siphoned out of the Nigerian treasury
into offshore accounts by dishonest politicians, $20 billion is allegedly
traceable to IBB directly as president from 1985 to 1993." The World Bank and
other international sources of information put his total loot from the Nigerian
treasury at over $35 billion.
He is now threatening to
use a fraction of his loot to return to power and a figure of N400 billion has
been mentioned by his cronies as his campaign chest. We ought to be worrying
now about how to survive this viper's poisoned food. We are desperately hungry
but if we eat, we die immediately. If we don't, we die slowly from hunger
anyway, terrorized by the viper's fang. We are trapped. We can't get up to look
elsewhere for food or do anything else. The evil genius has hijacked our
Fortunately, there are still principled,
conscientious and patriotic Nigerians, determined that if they must die, it must
not be without a fight. Babangida would not return to rule over one Nigeria.
If he does, lovers of Nigeria would, at least, make Nigeria ungovernable for
him, failing which, they would emigrate. I would definitely renounce my
citizenship of Nigeria if nothing else.
The Yoruba have
a proverb about: 'a person about to be roasted, who rubs his body with fat and
goes to stand by a raging fire.' This must have influenced the following remarks
on IBB by our popular human rights lawyer/activist, Mr. Femi Falana: "I am not
quite sure that Nigerians can stop him from exposing himself to ridicule. He
has been lucky that he is not in jail now. His coming out to contest will
provide an opportunity for Nigerians to deal with him squarely and confront him
with the annulment of June 12 election, the murder of Dele Giwa, the Ejigbo
tragic plane crash, the destruction of our values as a people, corruption, and
massive violation of human rights."
M. D. Yusufu, a former Inspector
General of police said in Karl Maiers book, This House has fallen, that:
"Babangida went all out to corrupt society. Abacha was intimidating people with
fear. With him gone now you can recover. But this corruption remains and it is
very corrosive to society."
Professor Akin Oyebode of
the University of Lagos law department describes IBB's attempt to return to
power "as a colossal assault on the national psyche. At the end of the debate
on the IMF conditionalities, he clamped on SAP, which was more draconian than
the IMF conditionalities. Because he has a 50-bedroom house at Minna, he thinks
the world is his oyster. He latches on the popular yearnings to launder his
image. He has dirty rotten underwear that he wants to clean so that people will
give him a new improved IBB. IBB is a bad statement to the whole world that at
the end of the day we again brought Babangida to the scene. I don't want my
children to live under Babangida. I won't live under Babangida."
If all he could deliver, as a young man was to loot our treasury
dry, what is he bringing to the table now? He does not even have the basic
education or the intelligence. To be an expert at maneuvering a people and
their treasury does not demonstrate intelligence as much as lack of moral fiber
and self-discipline. Babangida is an empty barrel midget, robed in threatening
vulgar giant frippery of evil exploits.
respect for democracy and worth of human life. He killed Dele Giwa. He closed
down Ogun state radio; Concord, Guardian, Punch and Sketch newspapers; Newswatch
and News magazines, during his time. He treated with contempt the Justice
Chukwudifu Oputa led Human Rights Violation Investigation Commission (HRVIC),
when summoned to answer charges on the murder of Dele Giwa. He also rushed to
the court to prevent the implementation of the report of the Commission as it
Perhaps he wants to come back to rule so
that he can retire with the biggest loot in history? But according to the book:
The Sink, and International anti-corruption agencies reports, he has achieved
that status already so why does he not want to leave us alone?
Speaking obliquely a few months ago in Babangidaspeak, he threatened
that when he would speak on the June 12 annulment issue, Nigeria would shake to
her foundations. In an interview in late May, 2004, on Channels TV, Babangida
spoke on the June 12 issue, and no feathers were ruffled. Instead, Babangida
admitted toothy smile and all, that he made a mistake but that he did it in the
interest of Nigeria.
That was the same argument Mariam Abacha used
when asked about her husband's loot stashed away in his foreign accounts. She
said her husband was saving the money for Nigeria. On hindsight, we got some of
the money back didn't we? That is more than can be said about Babangida's loot
and the political turmoil he plunged Nigeria into since his selfish,
irresponsible, June 12 annulment.
On why Babangida
ignored all pleas not to kill Mamman Vasta, the master dribbler said that
Vasta's death was a painful decision for him, but that he had no choice in the
matter, because he was following military rules, and he did it in the national
interest. But Vasta, his fellow infantry soldier and childhood friend, was
hurriedly killed and his body dumped in a mass grave on the night of the
announcement of his sentence, (i.e. early morning of 5th March 1986), to prevent
last minute pleas for reprieve. Acid was poured on the bodies, including
Vasta's and burnt, so one must ask, was the rush to kill Vasta and burn his
carcass sanctioned too by the military laws? The whole thing smacks of envy,
apart from being hideous and barbaric. Babangida used the phantom coup
allegation to remove or marginalize the Middle Belt military top brass in his
Babangida said that he brought Obasanjo
back to power to stabilize the polity. What he was not telling, was the
apparent deal between the two of them not to probe each other in power.
Otherwise, why would Obasanjo ignore the bigger rogues to vigorously pursue the
return of Abacha's loot of a mere US$5 billion relatively?
Babangida on the Channels'TV interview said he wants to return to power to
correct Nigerian problems because he has been there before.
The man has no shame. Our most critical problem as a people is the
rampant and systematic looting of our treasury by our successive leaders.
Babangida was no exception, and he is being accused of the biggest loot of all,
so, is he now saying that he wants to voluntarily refund whatever he is being
accused of diverting from our coffers while in power? I have written personally
to him before to do this, and he did not answer. He does not have to return to
power to help Nigeria pay off her staggering foreign debt.
In a country of over 140 million people, what makes Babangida think he alone
deserves to rule for perhaps seventeen or more years? What is he bringing to
the table now if he never had it in the first place? Don't we deserve better
than our past illiterate leaders who could not differentiate between the
national and their private purses?
Of all the Nigerian
military dictators, Babangida was the most desperate for power, and for
attempting to hold on to it for life, apart from being the most flamboyant,
cunning, callous, ruthless and deadly, about how they went about achieving their
goals. Babangida grew on Nigeria slowly and quietly, with a deceptive toothy
Babangida first came into serious political
reckoning with Buhari's misleading coup of December 31st 1983. In reality,
power was seized for the opportunity to destroy documents relating to the NNPC's
missing USA$2.8 billion oil money, and punish all those involved in the
unraveling of the scam. Politicians and critics, including Fela Anikulapo-Kuti,
notorious for clamouring for the exposure of the oil money rogue Minister of an
earlier military epoch, were locked up without trial.
After consigning the vexatious matters that brought him to power to
administrative oblivion with the help of Shinkafi, his Secret Service guru,
Buhari announced his readiness to quit office. Idiagbon, as Buhari's
lieutenant, naturally insisted on taking over as head of state from his
apparently prematurely retiring boss. Babangida, who was Chief of Army Staff at
the time and a member of the Supreme Military Council, insisted it was his turn
to rule because he had been involved in virtually every military coup. The
quarrel split the Supreme Military Council members almost equally behind the two
Akilu had just returned from a
military training in India at the time and Babangida recommended him for
appointment as the head of the Secret Service. Idiagbon by-passed Akilu and
slighted Babangida by not consulting with him to confirm the new head of the
Secret Service from the army.
Gloria Okon was arrested
at the Murtala Mohammed Airport trying to smuggle cocaine out of the country.
Gloria claimed to be a courier for the family of one of the two high ranking
military officers deeply involved in the Supreme Military Council's palaver.
Gloria was quickly smuggled out of the country and a carcass burnt beyond
recognition of a human body, was left in her prison room to deceive the
authorities. As Gloria's drama was playing out, Abiola brought a large
consignment of banned newsprint into the country, forcing Idiagbon to insist on
the arrest of Chief M.K.O Abiola.
All sorts of
calamitous events kept rolling out at the time, including the arrest of one
Ikuomola for trying to smuggle a large consignment of cocaine out of the
country. He indicted a son of one of the Dantatas and they were both tried and
sentenced to death. The Dantata family mounted pressure on the Supreme Military
Council to commute the sentence to life. The issue heightened the division
among the Supreme Military Council members, with the Gloria Okon's high ranking
military benefactor, siding with the Dantatas naturally.
Idiagbon insisted that if poor people found with cocaine could be punished with
death sentence, why should the rich and affluent be spared? Idiagbon also
wanted the lawyer, (a Rivers state chap who had received some four million naira
as legal fees on the case at the time), to be shot along with the drug barons
for benefiting from the evil.
The schism between
Idiagbon and Babangida totally paralyzed the Supreme Military Council and it
could no longer function. Idiagbon forced compulsory leave on Babangida, under
close surveillance with tapped telephone lines and all. Chief M.K.O Abiola saw
the opportunity to save his neck from the newsprint saga by teaming up with his
friend, Babangida, and he provided the seed money for a coup.
Through the facilities of Abiola and the Dantatas, Yar Adua was brought
into the picture to help influence the Saudi Arabian monarch to extend a special
invitation to Idiagbon as a guest of the monarch, to perform the 1985 Lesser
Hajj in Mecca. Idiagbon felt greatly honoured by the invitation and took with
him to Mecca, most of his supporters on the splintered Supreme Military Council,
including Mamman Vasta.
With Idiagbon (who was the head
of the Buhari's regime in every sense of the word, and was very popular because
of his transparent honesty, patriotism, and discipline), out of the way, Buhari
(who was ready to vacate office anyway), was picked up like a helpless chicken
at Doddan Barracks, and dumped in jail. Idiagbon, against the coupists' advice,
returned home a people's hero, although locked up for several months too by
The day after Babangida's coup, I attacked it
on the front page of the Sunday Punch newspaper, as a ploy by the (IMF and the
World Bank) to marginalize the naira and destroy our economy, and Babangida was
described as a snake by nature and a stooge of the West. The Editor of the
Sunday Punch and his deputy at the time, Ayo Osintolu, and Bob Opone,
respectively, were suspended from their jobs. Ayo for six months and Bob for
three. I was unemployed as usual at the time, so, Babangida was handicapped
about how to deal with me immediately. I heard later that I was blacklisted for
all future government contracts and positions, even though my secondary school
classmate Rear Admiral Aikhomu (rtd) eventually became Babangida's deputy in
office. I never tried to find out.
Because of my
reputation as someone you could persuade with superior argument but impossible
to bribe out of his conviction, my best friend who was like a twin brother to me
at the time, Com. Wole Bucknor (rtd), was detailed to plead with me to drop any
further development of the IBB matter. Their strategy was to admit to me that
my observations were absolutely correct but that Babangida meant well for
Nigeria. With Babangida's antecedence, it was difficult for my friend to
persuade me, but Nigerian newspapers in general at that early stage of the
regime, were a little scared to publish and be damned.
Luckily, it did not take too long for Babangida to begin to reveal his secret
agenda. He had removed Idiagbon/Buhari from power to douse the heated
allegation at the time about illegal drug links and to help the IMF/World Bank
ruin the naira and open up the Nigerian market as dumping ground for American
and European junk and decadence. The marginalization of the naira suited
Babangida's Machiavellian streak to blunt prospects of mass protests with abject
poverty, hunger, and basic survival pre-occupations. For example, the
terroristic power of massive foreign exchange loot in a private hand, is
limitless as a tool for forcing pauperized populace to acquiesce to the
self-perpetuation antics of a potential despot.
Babangida's first pronouncement in power was to shock the nation by adopting the
civilian title of president. He did this because of a secret personal ambition
kept to himself, to transit into life president in the mould of Presidents Nasir
of Egypt and Eyadema of Togo, and also because of his agreement to make Chief
Abiola his Vice President for collaborating over their 1985 coup. Abacha kicked
against Abiola becoming Vice President because he was eyeing Babangida's seat in
a possible future coup of his own and wanted to remain the defacto next in
command, in military terms, for eventual easy take over excuse.
Babangida promised Yar Adua a short-lived military transition after
which he would hand over power to Yar Adua. That was why Yar Adua kept boasting
during the early stages of Babangida's regime, that no force on earth could stop
him becoming the next president of Nigeria. This prompted Obasanjo's statement
at the time that Yar Adua must have forgotten something at the state house.
Babangida was so single minded, self-centered, and
power-drunk, he single-handedly forced OIC membership on Nigeria without respect
for our supposed religious secularity. He used every means imaginable to assert
his power. Spiritual, criminal, everything was fair in his ruthless power
game. The gods of the Marabouts became privileged guests at Aso Rock, lacing it
with severe witchcraft, which was later vigorously sustained by Abacha.
If the physical failed, the metaphysical was handy in the human
blood bath for power. Blood was the language in the cultish game for total
control. Fear gripped the land. Who was going to be the next victim? Life was
scary and worthless. I bet, corridor of power social acolytes of the time like
the Arisekolas, Adedibus and the Akinyeles, could write blood-cuddling
masterpieces on the mysteries of the season. Assassinations were rampant,
sophisticated and comprehensive, incorporating bombings and dare-devil forages.
Media houses were burnt or closed down, and critics of government were murdered,
incarcerated or hounded into exile. Plane loads of promising young army
officers lost their lives in questionable circumstances. Others appeared to
have been sacrificed in distant land civil wars.
Ejigbo military Hercules crash that killed an elite corp. of army captains and
majors returning to their Jaji training base, is a typical example of the
terrible human carnage visited upon us at the time by a desperate tyrant bent on
holding on to power indefinitely at all costs. The plane was doctored and it
crashed a few seconds after take-off from the Murtala Mohammed airport. No
rescue attempt was ordered or made until 24 hours after the crash and even then,
the inadequate facilities of a private company, (Julius Berger), were relied
upon. Forty-eight hours after the crash, a warm body was still found suggesting
that some lives could have been saved if rescue operations had commenced minutes
after the crash.
Apart from the needless assassinations
of possible opponents and rivals for power, there were totally senseless ones
too, such as the death of Murtala Mohammed's first son immediately after
visiting the seat of power. It was generously reported in the press at the
time. The allegation was that during the friendly, private visit, the young man
was asked if he would be prepared to do a job. The young chap said he could not
say until he was told what the job was. When told that he was to help
facilitate the elimination of Chief Abiola, the young man said he couldn't
because Abiola was like a father to him. The host then quickly dismissed the
suggestion as if it had been a joke and asked how the young man travelled to the
state house. "By private car," the young man said. "You are going about
without security?" the host asked, pretending to look alarmed, and detailed some
security officers to escort the young man to his Minna destination. The body of
the young man was later that day found in his car on the route between the seat
of power and Minna.
Bongos Ikwe's son by a girl friend,
who later married Oga, also lost his life in suspicious circumstances. Bongos,
in press interviews at the time, denied knowing his son's mother who, in fact,
is the junior sister of Bongos' best friend and music partner on an RKTV
programme in the early 60s. Despite denials, Bongos' most popular recorded song
'O Mariana' could not conceal the anguish of the jilted lover.
Perhaps the most stupid, irresponsible and callous murder of them
all was that of Dele Giwa. The death was a classic example of desperate,
high-handed, dirty and mean, under-the-carpet cover-up state terrorism.
Dele Giwa's problem was that he stumbled on some documents
about Gloria Okon in London and after interviewing her, threatened to publish
the story while allegedly letting it be known that he could be persuaded to
withdraw publication with a cash bribe of US$21m plus N200m. Alternatively, he
was ready to settle for the position of Information Minister, which Tony Mommoh
was occupying at the time. Dele Giwa's blackmail unfortunately misfired unlike
an earlier one involving Mr. Lawson, the founder of the Nigerian Grail Movement
who was alleged to have been arrested and locked up in London for money
laundering problems. Mudashiru, the military governor of Lagos state at the
time of Lawson's travails, was alleged to have stopped the publication of
Lawson's story by bribing Giwa with the land and C of O of the Newswatch
Dr. T.C. Nwosu, the renowned Nigerian author, and
I, came out in defense of Mamman Vasta, (when he was arrested for coup
plotting), in a joint statement published as a news item at the time, in the
Nigerian Guardian newspaper. We said it was a lie to accuse Vasta of trying to
stage a coup to take the IMF conditionalities. This was the first time anyone,
(civilian or military), would come out openly to defend an alleged coup plotter
in Nigeria, and Vasta who was our friend and colleague in the Association of
Nigerian Authors (ANA), took our support to heart, and arranged for some
documents on his kangaroo trial for coup plotting to be smuggled out to us.
One of the documents we received was on Gloria Okon. We
could not use the information in Nigeria at the time because no newspaper would
dare publish it, so I arranged for Ejike Nwankwo, my bosom friend, to take the
documents to his senior brother, Chief Arthur Nwankwo, who was in political
exile in London at the time. The idea was for Arthur Nwankwo to have the Gloria
Okon's story published in the Manchester Guardian, but Arthur decided to delay
publication until he could use the immunity of the Nigerian Senate, which he was
aspiring to join in Babangida's best time as a member, to make the story
Senior members of the Ministry of Information, and of the
Daily Times at the time, and a director of Newswatch, were not totally ignorant
about what was going on in Babangida's government. In fact, Abacha at a point,
asked the boss of the Ministry of Information to frame up Dele Giwa. The boss
being a principled and die-hard journalist, argued that it was difficult to
frame up journalists.
Babangida's boys went ahead to
frame up Giwa anyway. Three days before they killed Dele Giwa, Col. A. K.
Togun, the deputy Director of Babangida's State Security Service (the SSS),
invited Giwa to his office and accused him of involvement in the importation of
arms while linking Giwa with other persons alleged to be trying to stage a
socialist revolution in Nigeria. At the meeting, agreement was reached, and
Babangida, through his emissaries, promised to meet Giwa's terms. Two days
before Giwa's murder, Akilu allegedly phoned Giwa's home to ask for direction
because Babangida's ADC "has something for him, an invitation or
Dele Giwa allegedly invited the overseas
editor of Newswatch at the time to be around. Obviously, Giwa took the
president's promise more seriously than his colleagues at the Newswatch. This
was why, when Giwa received the parcel and confirmed that it was from the
President, his guest's first reaction was to dash off to take cover in the
toilet adjacent to the room where Giwa opened the parcel bomb. The guest
escaped death by the whiskers and blasted eardrums. Tagum, when asked by
Airport Correspondents on October 27, 1986, about Giwa's bombing inadvertently
confirmed the blackmail reason for Giwa's death when he said: "We came to a real
agreement and one person cannot just come out and blackmail us. I am an expert
on blackmail. If a motorcycle man suddenly dashed in front of a car and the
driver kills the motorcycle man, another motorcycle man who was there would not
say the motorcycle man who dashed in front of the car was wrong. He would say
the driver killed him, not that he killed himself"
Arab terrorist, who was recruited to collaborate with a University of Ibadan
chemistry don especially for the task, produced the bomb. The terrorist is
alleged to have gone with Major Buba Marwa, Ogbeha and Gwazo, in a Peugeot
station wagon car with fake license plate numbers, to deliver the bomb at Dele's
home. On arrival, they were told that Dele was not in, so they laid ambush
near-by to watch movements in and out of Giwa's premises.
As soon as Giwa was spotted entering his house, the allegation continues, the
Arab terrorist offered to go and deliver the bomb, but his colleagues in crime
stopped him on the grounds that a white man would look too suspicious for the
job. Marwa, accompanied by Ogbeha, are alleged to have delivered the bomb to
Dele's son at the door, after which the crime team drove off to Mafoluku where
they burned their delivery car. The same day, the Arab terrorist was flown out
of Lagos, first to Kano, and eventually out of the country.
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