￼By Gbenro Olajuyigbe
‘if the truth shall kill them, let them die’ -Immanuel Kant
Bisi Alawale was a very promising young man, my friend and course mate at the University of Benin in the 80s. An adventurous patriotic cool headed young man, his life was tragically terminated by stray bullets from Ibrahim Babangida’s repressive soldiers who were rolled out by Babangida to seal the fate of the June 12,1993 Election he lawlessly annulled.
Bisi was killed on the street of Lagos among other protesters who stood against the dastardly act of the megalomaniac called Babangida. Like, Bisi, hundreds of Nigerians were pulled down into early graves by Babangida’s army of fortune. My like who were on the streets protesting the manifestly tragic treason committed by Babangida against the State of Nigeria had sheer luck to have escaped his State oiled terror.
The least that I can do to the memory of Bisi and others killed is not to allow their arch- killers and haters of democracy metamorphosed into teachers of democratic and just governance.The least is not to allow Babangida escape with the revisionist narratives he is polluting our airwaves with, using Arise Television platform as image laundry loobe.
Those of us who were witness to history know that Babangida killed one Nigeria, he stifled unity and murdered national tranquility . Successive regimes are just poor pall bearers giving indecent burial to a country survived by walnut- like- ethnic children, as executors of a dastardly written Will of a power drunk General! For the sake of the young ones, Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, a General in the Nigerian Army was a military President.
He overthrew Mohammadu Buhari, the General that ended Nigeria’s second republic’s democratically elected government of Alhaji Sheu Shagari through a coup d’etat executed by him in conjunction with Babangida, who served as his Army Chief of Staff before booting him out in another coup d’etat. It was under Babangida that the June 12, 1993 elections, the freest and fairest election in the history of Nigeria were held.
The election was a watershed in the history of Nigeria that has encumbered with ethnic and religious considerations. Nigerians from all nooks and crannies of the country rose above primordial sentimental attachments to religion and ethnicities by speaking in unison through their votes that validated election of Chief Moshood kashimawo Olawale Abiola and Alhaji Babagana Kingibe on a joint ticket as President and Vice President respectfully on the platform of Social Democratic Party (SDP).
The duo were Muslims and there was no resistance on this basis to their election. Neither any from the Christian side nor from the Muslim side. Aside from this feat, Abiola, a Yoruba man was voted for over and above his opponent, Alhaji Bashir Tofa of the National Republic Convention (NRC), of Hausa/Fulani extraction in Kano, his home state and other places in the North. This was the first time in electoral history of Nigeria that this sorts of unison and nationalism were achieved.
However, rather than using it a building blocks to strengthen national cohesion, Ibrahim Babangida, the then maximum ruler used it to weakened the resolve of Nigerians to coexist as one united nation by unilaterally annulling the election.
By this singular unpatriotic act, Babangida demolished democracy, stabbed unity and dragged the nation through horror of national carnage and tragic mistrust that crippled the nation and demobilized her citizens from building common front for nation building and national development.
Babangida blew a golden opportunity, punctured the soul of unity and shrunk capacity for nationalism.
The opportunity costs of his obnoxious action were that Nigerians receded into their clans to build reinforcement against one nation.
This de-citizenship actions frustrated capacity for national revival, mobilize people around ethicist ideas and opened the door of Nigeria to unbridled dictatorship and oppressive governance that consequentially followed under General Sani Abacha, another species of a terror regime.
Under Abacha, Nigeria became open grave and abattoir for human flesh with sundry state sponsored violence and killings that ultimately ended the lives of Kudirat Abiola, the wife of the winner of the June 12 election, Chief Alfred Rewane, Baugada Kaito, Bisi Alawale, my friend and several people that were hounded into untimely death. Also, Abiola, the winner of the election did not escape the fatal fate of avoidable gruesome death incumbent of Babangida’s annulment of election outcome.
It is nothing but truth-telling to say that Babangida precipitated unprecedented national anarchy, fueled fear and insecurity and pushed Nigeria and Nigerians into abyssal bottomless pit, making national recovery difficult and national cohesion hardly possible.
His reign as an unelected President did not possess the candor, honor and exemplary grace needed by a knowledge bearing teacher for him to now become a person to teach Nigerians the qualities of who should be the next Nigeria’s President.
A man who as young President in 1993 that annulled election won by a barely fifty four young man to now at eighty years old pontificating his desire to have a President less than sixty years elected is hypocritical, if not mischievous. Babangida has lost the grace of becoming a pathfinder to a new Nigeria.
A man who turned Nigeria to forest of fire a synopsis of unending tragedies does not have the criteria of teaching principles of leadership.
Nigerians do not have anything to learn about patriotism and courage from a man who threw his nation under a moving train in order to safe a ‘friend’ as he claimed in his recent inglorious interview.
Thank God that Abiola was able to respond to Babangida’s claim of friendship with him while alive. Indeed, in the words of Abiola, ‘with a friend like Babangida, no one needs an enemy’. Babangida suffered flight of human spirit.
He became stranger to compassion and transcended into a national traitor who raised himself up for judgment of history. A nation with sense of history would have buried Babangida in sepulchers reserved for midday demons.
He was a soldier like Ephraim in the Bible, who prepared for war but turned back on the day of battle. History will remember him as a player who worked against his own victory by scoring own goal.
No matter how long he lives, he should not be allowed to be a guide to the future he destroyed. We must apologize to devil if we allow his parody(devil’s), the ‘ evil genius’ to wear the cassocks of sainthood he shamelessly sew for himself at 80! History already have epitaph for him at the close of day, ‘here lies in this belittling grave the troubler of a nation who stabbed the past to murder the future!’ Happy 80th birthday to Baba, the Traitor -General of the federation!
Gbenro Olajuyigbe is the Executive Director of Emergency & Risk Alert Initiative
Babangida, the unworthy teacher
￼By Gbenro Olajuyigbe