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Bamgboye:Obasanjo vs Babangida: Between two wrongs


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Bamgboye:Obasanjo vs Babangida: Between two wrongs

By Vincent Bamgboye

 

LIKE most hapless Nigerians, one has been reading the unfolding war of words between Generals Olusegun Obasanjo (OBJ) and Ibrahim Babangida (IBB). The drama kicked off with IBB insinuating that his eight-year administration between 1985 and 1993 was better for Nigerians in terms of achievements than OBJ’s wasteful eight years as civilian president from 1999 to 2007. One would have expected these two elderly clowns to allow history and the Nigerians, whose psyche they assaulted for so long to be the ultimate judge of their times in office as Nigerian leaders. No! The revisionist in an average African leader would not allow the sleeping dog to lie. Rather they came out to remind us of the poor leadership that has beset the Nigerian nation since her nominal independence from Britain.

What set off the war of words was the interview given by IBB to mark his 70th birthday during which he criticised OBJ’s administration. OBJ replied by cataloguing his achievements in office while calling his erstwhile friend a ‘fool at 70’.  They probably thought we suffer from amnesia.

One lived in Nigeria through what is now known as Murtala Mohammed/Obasanjo’s military administration (1975-79) and the Babangida’s administration (1985-93). That Murtala Muhammed/Obasanjo administration completely destroyed the Nigerian civil service by beheading it and setting it back by tens of years. The mediocrity and corruption we have in the Nigerian civil service today originated from that Murtala Muhammed/Obasanjo’s administration. It set back the Nigerian education system by indiscriminate introduction of fees and killing of innocent students. The only achievement of that administration was handing over to a democratically elected government. That ensured OBJ’s sainthood in an African continent noted for sit-tight leaders.

The less one says about IBB’s administration the better. Eight years of administration that made corruption a national policy is not what one wishes to remember in haste. That government had had the unenviable record of wasting a large generation of senior and middle cadre military personnel in Nigerian history through unexplained air crash, premature retirements and coup plotting. The Mamman Vastas, Martin-Luther Kings, Gideon Orkas and the national investments in them, were all wasted by the IBB administration.

IBB’s Structural Adjustment Programme set the Nigerian socio-economic development back by a generation. The Nigerians are yet to recover from his ill-thought and poorly implemented programmes. There is still a lingering question about what became of a 12 billion dollars windfall during IBB’s administration. We haven’t heard the last of the Okigbo Panel’s report.

To add insult to our injury, IBB administration conducted the longest political transition in the history of any nation that led the Nigerian nation to almost disintegration. He can claim to have conducted the freest election in Nigerian history. Of what use was a free election whose result was cancelled by its shameless conductor? The cancellation of what became known as June 12 election will forever hunt the Babangida’s administration.

The second coming of OBJ was a political arrangement between IBB, his military cronies and the political class. They arranged OBJ’s freedom from prison and subsequent national pardon thus freeing him to contest for the Presidency. The situation was so bad that the cowardly real Nigerian politicians were afraid thus they needed an ex-convict to save them from the ambitious military boys. The achievement of OBJ’s civilian administration was modest and I will not waste time recounting them here. His failures were equally heavy. Most of us will remember him, without much affection, for lumbering us with an ailing President Umaru Yar’Adua who died in office without any impact on the Nigerian polity.

One of the greatest achievements of OBJ was preventing IBB’s second coming. It was IBB’s belief that OBJ would step down after a term in office thus setting the stage free for his return to power. The wily old fox in OBJ played along, wrong-footed IBB and set the stage for eternal conflict with the Minna powerbroker by not only spending a second term but persuading Alhaji Umaru Musa YarAdua to contest knowing fully well that IBB would loathe to contest against him. The jettisoning of the Peoples Democratic Party’s rotational arrangement in 2011 Presidential Election (spearheaded by Obasanjo) that saw the emergence of President Goodluck Jonathan was, for IBB, the last straw. At 70, time is against IBB thus the bitterness and the subsequent vitriol he poured on his senior military colleague.

However, if these two are fools, the generality of Nigerians they had kicked around for so long are no fools. We know that there is little to choose between these two evils.

 

 

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Updated 7 Years ago
 

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