Flag off the presidential campaign of Nigeriaâ€™s former self-styled military president, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (retd) in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital last week. Because of his antecedent as an anti-democratic element, many, however, did not take him seriously. And it came to pass that the rally flopped spectacularly last Thursday as Babangida failed to show up. He must read the writing on the wall that it wonâ€™t be an easy ride for hisÂ bid to return to power, what with the stiff opposition he is facing from the students in tertiary institutions, pro-democracy activists, civil society groups and well meaning Nigerians.
He no longer has the monopoly of guns to ride rough shod over the people. It is the same people he trampled upon as military dictator that will determine his fate even before the 2011 presidential race kicks off.
The Ibadan rally couldnâ€™t really get off the ground because of the threat by the National Association of Students (NANS) in Oyo State to disrupt it. The students took that stance because they said he did not have any democratic credential. As a face saving measure, he sent one of his minions, Abdulkadri Kure, a former governor of Niger State, to represent him. In his usual quixotic posturing, Babangida claimed that three governors in the Southwest are in support of his inordinate ambition. He also pleaded with the people of the region to support him.
Babangida will continue to run from pillar to post in his quest to return to power but will fail in the end because he cannot pull the wool over the eyes of enlightened Nigerians who know how he introduced the structural adjustment promamme and devalued the naira, obnoxious policies that contributed immensely to the economic downturn we are experiencing in our country today. He also truncated the democracy he is trying to be an apostle of. When he was in power between 27 August, 1985 and 26 August, 1993, he shut down many media houses and jailed journalists whose reports were critical of his administration. It was during his inglorious regime that the Editor-In-Chief of Newswatch magazine, Dele Giwa was killed through a parcel bomb on Sunday, 19 October, 1986.
If he is not suffering from delusion of grandeur, what makes him think Nigerians, especially the people of the South-west he is now courting, will line up behind him instead of other credible candidates who will vie for the same exalted post? IBB is deceiving himself that he can sweep under the carpet the annulment of June 12, 1993 presidential election won by Moshood Abiola. The cancellation of the result of that free and fair election triggered a chain of tragic events which Nigerians and relatives of those who died are still smarting from. To many, the wound IBB inflicted on them when he was in power is yet to heal.
There is so much resentment against IBB that those who are goading him to contest donâ€™t wish him well. They are only interested in milking the war chest he said he has set aside for the election. Any party that fields him as its presidential flagbearer will suffer a similar fate as the toxic candidate himself: utter rejection at the polls by the electorate. He doesnâ€™t need to look into any crystal ball to know the grim fate that awaits him at the polls if eventually he picks the ticket of any unlucky party. In 2011, voters will be so enlightened and discerning that they wonâ€™t be hoodwinked by the empty promises of those who seek power to line their pockets and not to serve the people.