RE: 2011: IN DEFENCE OF BABANGIDA
The article written by a seasoned columnist, Mohammed Haruna in his Wednesday back page column of June 2, 2010 on the above subject is interesting. It is very true that since Babangida announced his intention to join the race of 2011 presidential contest, there has been barrage of condemnations and criticisms by media columnists and other concerned citizens of Nigeria against General Babangida's presidential ambition for reasons that are now in public court for public scrutiny.
Although the veteran columnist, Mohammed Haruna might have his reasons why to certain extent, he would not want to support Babangida in his desire to become the President of Nigeria next year, Haruna nonetheless feels that some of the issues advanced against Babangida's presidential ambition are not weighty enough to prevent him from taking part in the forthcoming country presidential election. This however provides Haruna the avenue of putting up a bold-face defence for Babangida.
Mohammed Haruna has right to defend Babangida or even attempt to exonerate him completely of all his evil machinations that earned him "evil genius". But Haruna should have just made his point clear without down playing the views of his other columnists or other persons with their valid points against Babangida's 2011 presidency. Perhaps, Haruna might be right in his assertion that the simple annulment of June 12 presidential election of 1993 is not enough to draw Babangida's name in the mud or disqualify him from achieving his 2011 presidential ambition. What about the tension, logjam and tragedy that trailed the annulment? Should we also forget the thousand casualties including deaths of citizens precipitated by June 12, 1993 presidential election annulment?
If Nigerians can forget about the tragic death of Dele Giwa in 1986 because they had no substantive evidence to prosecute the alleged perpetrator, can we say of the same on the issue of the oil windfall in the 1991 gulf war? If Babangida could not explain, as the Commander in Chief, how the gain of the oil windfall was expended, should he not be held liable? What about the IMF loan he collected in 1989 in the name of assisting the tertiary institutions in Nigeria? This matter and that of the removal of oil subsidy created furor among the Nigerian Students. Specifically, BUK, UNIJOS and UNIIFE students were locked out of their classes for three months. Babangida's tenure witnessed fundamental disruption of academic activities in Nigeria.
Still, can Mohammed Haruna, on behalf of Babangida tell us the beneficiaries of Babangida's SAP and SFEM? What about his institutionalization of corrupt practices in the country, which the country is still battling teeth and nail today? Haruna seemed to have shared the belief that apart from the media court, Babangida has not been formally charged or tried of all these criminal tendencies. The question is who should have tried Babangida? Was it the three month old government of Chief Ernest Shonekan who battled with the seed of discord sowed by Babangida's annulment of June 12 election, or was it the government of the late Head of State, General Sani Abacha who served in the Babangida's eight years (mis) rule?
We still want to know who should have probed Babangida. Was it General Abubakar Abdulsalam's one year regime that quickly handed over power to civilian administration or Obasanjo that Babangida saved his ass in the 1999 PDP Jos convention to become the civilian President of Nigeria that would have probed Babangida of his bad governance? This was in addition to the fact that that both Obasanjo and Babangida are of the same military class and background. They would always like to cover the misdeed of one another until the day of reckoning.
In 2000, Babangida had the opportunity to defend and clear himself before the Oputa Panel but he failed to do so, perhaps, as a mark of guilt and now, what does some one wants to tell us about the Maradona of Nigeria? Mohammed Haruna should understand the fact that though Babangida has not been tried or charged in the last 17 years, it does not make him innocent of all the fact against him or competent of fostering his old tricks and therefore, think that he can still stage a come back to once again test the will of Nigerians.
As for age, one does not think that it should be a factor against Babangida's ambition but at 68 and having served the country for eight solid years as the President and Commander-in-Chief of Nigeria, the country has gained enough of his knowledge and experience. It will now be good for him to stay away and enjoy his life. The likes of Babangida should not come back to preside over the affairs of the nation again to avoid turning back the hand of the clock, and this will certainly not profit the nation. This piece of advice is not for Babangida alone. It should also go to the ears of General Muhammadu Buhari, General Aliyu Gusau and their likes that are nursing the dream of becoming President in 2011.
The incumbent President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan should also be told that the country cannot have credible poll in 2011 if he, as the Chief Presiding Officer of the nation participates in the race. It also makes no difference if he has never met his proposed substantive INEC Chairman or not. A judge no matter how impartial and just should not preside over his case. How can he appoint an umpire for a game and at the same time wants to be a player, knowing full well that he who pays the piper will certainly dictate the tune. If Mr. President insists on joining the 2011 presidential race, I think there is no need of plundering the country's resources into an election that will not be credible, free and fair, sincere and honest. I suggest that the presidential election should not take place, instead, on 29th May 2011; Dr. Goodluck Jonathan should just make a broadcast of succeeding himself as President of Nigeria without election.
Above all, we still have competent men of God and integrity that have also been tested and trusted and among them we expect the people of Nigeria to decide who should hold their trust in 2011 poll. Therefore, we should avoid tying down our strings to Babangida, Buhari, Gusau and even Jonathan. These personalities are recurring decimals in our recent political history. So, they should step aside for a new trusted blood to be injected in the socio-economic and political system of the country.
Saka Raji Audu writes from Kano and can be reached on his email: [email protected]