Ibrahim Babangida: A Lion To Be Caged

In recent times, General Ibrahim Babangida’s visit to Ogun, Delta, and later Edo State had generated mixed reactions and feelings among Nigerians. In Ogun State, he said he was consulting. In Delta State, he confirmed he will be running for the presidency. In Edo State, the presence of Babangida was an embarrassment to the governor in particular and the gathering in general during the one man, one vote rally organised by Governor Adams Oshiomhole in Benin.

Babangida is a citizen of this country. He has every constitutional right to contest election into any elective office of his choice. But there are reasons for the sustained protest against his presidential ambition. Before I delve into the reasons, let’s go down memory lane. Nigeria got her independent on October 1, 1960. Notable Nigerians fought for the independence, constitutional reforms, freedom of speech, fundamental human rights and the rule of law.

After independence, Nigeria moved six years into civilisation. In 1966, rebel soldiers went on the rampage. They killed as many prominent politicians  as they could. Some of the victims were Tafawa Balewa, Ahmadu Bello, Akintola, Okotie Eboh, Maimalari, Ademilegun, etc. They created so much confusion and ended up throwing the nation into three years of civil war between 1967 and 1970.

The end of the war did not signal a return to civil rule. Far from it. The civil war ended in 1970, but the military junta took over power and held tight to power until 1979 when they grudgingly handed over to civilian adminstration headed by Alhaji Shehu Shagari.

In 1983 December, the rebels came back again, chasing the civilian government out of power. They suspended the constitution which is the fundamental laws of the land. The rule of law became a luxury even the rich could not afford, freedom of speech became an aberration, members of the fourth estate of the realm became fugitives in their homeland with unannounced death sentences hanging on their necks. Quite a good number of them found refuge in other countries.

Ibrahim Babangida was part of the military junta from December 1983 to 1985. And from August 1985 to August 1993 when he stepped aside, he actually headed the junta government. Now he wants to return to power after stepping aside for 17 years.

What reasons can we give for a self-styled democrat seeking elective office of the president of our country next year after participating and actually leading a military junta for upward of 13 years? In reality, he spent more than two terms while he was in power.

There is a theory that Big Animals naturally are not afraid of spider’s web. The laws of the land and the structures on ground to enforce the laws are like spider web too weak to bring to book powerful animals like Babangida. That is why people like him will always return to power. In Nigeria, vagabonds in Army uniform bought with tax payers’ money plot and execute coups. When the putsch turns out to be a success, nobody asks questions, certainly, not the police. It is when it fails that it becomes a crime. It was Babangida that was the chief coup plotter while he was still in service.

The other theory as to why Babangida will participate in illegality is because of his belief that national interest and national security must override the rule of law. So we have seen why Babangida is a professional at circumventing the rule of law at getting at his goal using national interest and national security as excuses.

In the United States of America, Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 32nd president, who was in power from 1933 to 1945, put up the same argument. When the second world war broke out, the United States was neutral initially. Within two years, an increasing friendship from the presidency especially towards the British government, and an American declaration of a national emergency in May 1941 naturally exposed the United States as being passively behind Great Britain. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour brought about America’s active participation in the war. But two issues stand out: firstly, the president’s immediate order of retaliatory attack on Japan and Germany meant the United States was in a state of war. The technical implication is that since the president did not deem it necessary to obtain congressional approval before going to war, the action was seen as an abuse of the rule of law.

Secondly, as the war progressed, the president and his security advisers perceived without concrete evidence that American citizens of Japanese descent were a threat to their war effort. They decided that all Americans of Japanese descent must be detained without trial until after the war in 1945. After the war, they were released. But quite a good number of them died in detention.

The constitution did not say any person or race should be detained when the United States is in a state of war. Wherever Franklin D. Roosevelt and his security adviser got their idea from still baffles students of American history up till date. The president’s argument that Americans of Japanese descent constituted security risk then, and that national security should override the rule of law if only during that emergency period of war was certainly not welcomed by the American public.

Back home in Nigeria, Babangida cannot cite national security as reason for the coups that he participated in from 1983 to 1985 and for taking over power for eight years and annuling the freest and fairest election in June 1993. Nigeria did not experience any emergency situation to warrant all the detrimental actions he took during this period.

If Babangida was circumventing the  rule of law at getting himself properly positioned in the seat of power using national interest as an excuse then, today, he cannot come up with such cheap excuse and hoodwink the people.

That he has asked some of his agents to tender apologies on his behalf means he is admitting he is a failure to say the least.  He says he is apologising for annuling the June 12,  1993 presidential election. But he is keeping quiet on the death of General Mamman Vatsa. He is keeping quiet on the Dele Giwa issue. He has tendered a public apology. Yes, when a harmless man tenders a public apology, forgive him. But Babangida is different. He is like a leopard that never changes its spurs. He cannot be trusted. Babangida should just limit his politics to Niger State and forget 2011. Nigerians won’t give him another chance again.


  1. nigerians be wise and wake up from your slumber.that cheif is not a chief and dont know IBB.we must place nigeria above tribal sentiments.IBB is the man that nigeria so much need now.why cant we let bygone by bygone and move this country forward.anybody compiring IBB to Abacha is not been truthful to himself.i still miatain that giving to the situation of nigeria.IBB is the man to lead us come 2011

    • If the industry ( a miniaturized sector of the nation), retires her leaders at 60, I dont know why a the whole nation will recruit hers at 60+, its such a paradox, BABANGIDA, VISIONARY LEADER ?Far from the truth THIS PEOPLE ARE YET TO DISCOVER THAT EVERY MAN MUST BE HUMBLED TO DISCIPLINE BY “THE PRINCIPLE OF TIMES AND SEASON THAT MAKES A TRUE LEADER”. Its a protocol of life that “energy level and the ability to deliver diminishes with age”,if they have lived right, we should be hearing of their children now. BABANGIDA, VISIONARY LEADER ? Education for all? water for all? housing for all? I used to tink nigeria will turn to heaven in the year 2000 while i was small,its high time these people recognized that they have overgrown the age of correct positioning, they need a re-orientation. There is nothing mystical OR COMPLEX about life, life is practical, they have misused the days of their enlistment, they HAVE overgrown the age of adjustment,Nobody dares transplant a 2year old tree, but we can transplant a 2month old tree; we can bend a fresh fish to a desired shape, but its only God dat can bend a dry, smoked fish and not break it) by now they should be decorating their achievement, but they have mis invested the energy of their youth, their posterity is now been threatened but they have overgrown the age of stardom, they should withdraw to their shell, and accept defeat
      BABANGIDA, VISIONARY LEADER ? I need help oh! at what age do they enlist people for boxing contest (feather weight, light weight, heavy weight, u can’t be older than forty). The pursuit of vision is forever likened to a race, boxing contest, or wrestling (1Co 9:24 … 26 ), so the oldest man in the last olympics was 42 yrs, the demands for leadership is not less, at what age do they enlist for soccer (under 17, under 21, under 23, super eagles),and u must be a player before u can be a star, at what age do they recruit into the army ( 20 … 30), at what age did david confrot goliath to rescue his nation (16yrs), at what age did Joseph rose to salvage the destiny of egypt (30), at what age did jesus rose to rescue the human race (he began at the age of twelve sitting with the lawyers he finished at 30 setting the captives free). I beliv this is RHEMA, a word!!! from the throne of grace to THEM and every UPCOMING LEADER, JOHN MILTON SAYS: As the sun shows the morning so the childhood shows the man, most african live to make a living, very few live to make an impact, cos they ar yet 2 discova “The law of timely discovery for striking accomplishement”. African youths are awake, I use dis platform to implore fellow upcomin leader.
      Wake up and make ur destiny count for God and humanity, lets investo ur time in readn, study, informatn huntn and explorative study, enlargn our capacity of information in drivn the visn dat god has given us, equipn ourselves to match ur task.
      How old was john dell when he became the CEO of dell corp, how old was micheal faraday when delivered d whole world from physical darkness into prevailing light,how old was Benjamin Fraklin when he, a primary 2 school holder single handedly negotiatd d french support for American freedom,how old was John D. rockfeller when he rose to become America’s first ever billionaire with a passion for the people so much dat his charity foundations are still speaking today, how old was Marthin luther King when he fought for the DIGNITY of the black race and 2day they evn travel to America sitting on thesame table with the whites, a majr accomplishment of a passionate, selfless visionary leader
      If they have brain, they will know that politics is one of the several aspect of humanendearvours in the world, ITS AN ABUSE TO INTELLIGENCE TO BELIV ONE CANT MAKE A CHANGE WITHOUT BEEN IN POLITICS, Africa has been delivered.Let those old rags REST go and rest

  2. Oosh or what ever u call yourself should speak for yourself because people like you are selfish and ignorant. The so-called ”chief” has told you he benefited from IBB and he is not happy with it. are you sure u will benefit from IBB or regret voting for him.people like you are pathetic, ignorant and dump and IBB likes such people.

  3. chief or what did you call yourself.
    Nigerians nor readers of this great magazine are not fools. Ibb can never mingle with betrayals like you. Ibb has all the right in this whole world to contest the next presidential election. thank God it is one man one vote. A fraud like you is not good enough to speak for us, our vote will please for us all. Allow nigerians to reject Ibb through their votes. For your information, you will be surprised that we that never benefited directly during his former administration are eager to see him become the president again.
    allow your heart to bleed for yourself and family.

    fellow Nigerians during the election vote for who you want to vote for. dont allow some fools speak on our behave. we should let them know that we can easily differential good from bad.

    it is my opinion to allow Ibb to contest again.

  4. IBB is my good friend and he made me rich during his term. I was at his palace when he was crowned the Emperor of Minna late last year. At that time his wife was alive and he jokingly said he will contest 2011. I was aginst this but I didnt say anything at hilltpo, if I did, he will get rid of me because the guy is capable of doing anything and is above the law of the land. Nobody can advise him against it because he will not listen. In fact, Abacha was better that IBB because he was more human and accommodating. If he wants to be the president next year he has the weapno and none of us can stop him except almighty GOD. He can buy his way back to Aso Rock because he is the only one above the law of the land. If IBB really want to help, he can consult with the Emirs to make him the Emperor of the North rather than president of Nigeria. Nigerians forgot something, i.e. wher did he get his mponey from. I am one of the beneficiaries of IBB but my herat is bleeding because of the unborn generations.

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