Ibrahim Babangida has become the most criticized former leader of the Nigerian State specifically on account of corruption and recently alleged suspicion of being a Boko Haram sponsor. This Minna born General, said to have married his late wife Maryam according to both Islamic and Christian rites is widely believed to have institutionalized corruption in Nigeria.
This same General used the genius in him to dribble all the Nigerian politicians of recycling reputation in his never ending political transition which led to the proscription of all political parties in 1992 and the formation of NRC and SDP, two government parties with rightist and leftist leanings. Babangida made a mess of political ambitions of Adamu Ciroma, Bamanga Tukur, Arthur Nzeribe, Shehu Yar-adua among others and he dribbled them into the dustbin of politics in the order of Argentine footballer ,Diego Maradona.
The attempt to dribble MKO Abiola was the watershed that led to the fall of Babangida in 1993. The Nigerian people got tired of his dribbling skills and mobilized enough pressure that he had to abandon Aso Rock in August 1993 for Chief Ernest Shonekan under the security watch of late General Sanni Abacha.
During the Babangida era, corruption became so magnified that the Shagari era was described as Introduction to Corruption. When one of the military governors cornered state wealth to his pocket in a brazen manner, the then Chief of General Staff, Admiral Augustus Aikhomu , described the exercise as misapplication of public funds and not misappropriation. A whopping $12billion dollars of gulf oil windfall was said to have vamoosed under his nose such that an irritated General Sanni Abacha had to commission an enquiry to discover how the funds disappeared or was spent.
Babangida introduced discretionary award of oil block to Nigerians and Conoil was the first indigenous oil company to benefit from the largesse. Discretionary oil block involves a situation whereby a head of State after a sumptuous meal of amala and gbegiri soup could decide to reward the experienced cook with oil block as a compensation for satisfying his stomach with such a local delicacy.
Recently elder statesman Edwin Clarke at the 2ndState of the Federation lecture organized by the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies in Abuja alleged that Babangida is among the mask behind Boko Haram. According to Clarke ’’ IBB should have spoken on the Boko Haram issue long before now, why has he been silent all this while? Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has visited Maiduguri, why have IBB and General Buhari not visited the place?’’ Babangida promptly replied by calling Clerk a senile man and in his defence he made a statement which appears a bit reasonable. Acording to his spokesman “IBB has since left the political turf for the younger generation of Nigerians. He has said repeatedly that he will no longer be an applicant in the political industry in Nigeria until Allah calls him home. Rather than crucify General IBB for nothing, Chief Edwin Clark should blame the corruption in the system and the several incompetence and inadequacies of the present system”
Babangida had left office since 1993, almost twenty years now and successive regimes had the opportunity of reversing whatsoever wrong Babangida did. Abacha, Abdulsalami, Obasanjo, Yaradua and now Jonathan all had twenty years now to correct the ills of Babangida and yet the situation had not improved substantially. The Tony Elumelu Committee Report and the Farouk Lawan Committee Reports all alluded that N1.3 Trillion naira and N1.7 trillion naira respectively was wasted on power projects and subsidy bills and it was not under Babangida regime.
Babangida annulled the freest election in Nigeria in 1993 and successive regimes elevated annulment to the more you look the more your votes disappears in instances of monumental rigging. The 1999 elections widely believed to have been won by Olu Falae were rigged in favour of Obasanjo. The 2003 and 2007 presidential election which Buhari was believed to have won was rigged in favor of Obasanjo and Yaradua. What Babangida introduced in 1993 have been digitalized and amplified by successive regimes that Nigeria has become an experiment in rigging technology.
Olu Falae was robbed in 1999, Buhari was robbed in 2003 and 2007 and most states and local councils in Nigeria had public officials selected through flawed and fraudulent electoral processes and nobody appears to now have the solution. Babangida is certainly not behind these. The corrupt system brazenly elevated is frightening and threatening his presidential ambition.
Babangida increased fuel price by about 50kobo from 20 kobo in March 1986 to 70kobo in March 1991, while successive regimes have increased it from 70kobo in 1991 to N97 in 2012.
Babangida was alleged to have killed Dele Giwa through letter bomb. Under successive regimes including civilian regimes Bola Ige, Harry Marshal, Ugwu, Oyerinde among others were allegedly killed by politicians.
Therefore Babangida is not the major problem of Nigeria. Some regimes after him had proved worse than his. Obasanjo regime received in 2005 the same revenue Babangida got in his entire eight years. Some South South states have received in eight years the same amount Babangida received in eight years and yet all these funds are now hidden in foreign accounts.
The discretionary award of oil block first introduced by Babangida has been elevated to the level whereby mistresses are compensated for good night sleep with oil blocks worth billions of dollars as though it is Keke Napep (tricycle) that is being distributed.
Babangida introduced corruption into Nigeria but it is obvious that we cannot continue to blame Babangida for all our woes when successive regimes had all the chances to reverse the ills and the challenges have overwhelmed them. Blaming the evil genius for increasing corruption in Nigeria is simply playing politics with corruption. Successive regimes should endeavor to move the nation forward and correct the ills of the past. If the government of the day has evidence that Babangida has hand in Boko Haram activities, they should stop the politics,sanction him appropriately and save further loss of lives or else hold their peace and allow us put our fate in God.