Friday, December 14, 2018 2:32 pm
By Azuka Jebose
A few days ago, a picture of a sick and former Nigeria’s Military Head of State, Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida circulated social media. I was one of those that published the headshot of the ill Statesman, his face, perhaps, partially disabled by strokes. I posted the picture with a caption seeking answers. I asked if he had a stroke?. But the answers and reactions were stunning. A majority thought I was being insensitive, inhuman and disrespectful of the old man. They felt I was judging the former Military Head of our dear native land. I do not judge people… I am not God. So I will not judge Babangida.
But there is accountability. Babangida as head of Nigerian State must be held accountable for how he ruled Nigeria during his tenure, his failures and achievements. Accountability is not Judgement. Go and befriend your dictionary… Babangida was a mega failure and babanla corrupt con soldier. He was ruthless then and perhaps, still is… He raped Nigeria. He stole from us and sacrificed our young lives for his greed as a leader. We were young and innocent during the 80s when he peppered my generation with austerity measures, deceptive and ineffective economic policies that further worsened our years of sorrow.
We hoped on our nation-state and leaders, to redirect us to a better tomorrow then. Our tomorrow never came. It became a yesterday of anguish, agony and killings. He infested and inflicted us with pain and horror with his “babalawo” economic policies and violated, with impunity our human rights, extending such terror to even his best friend, Late Maj General Mamman Vatsa, a beloved writer-soldier and former Minister of the then Federal Capital Territory: He murdered Mamman Vatsa and Dele Giwa, our profound journalist.
Major General Mamman Vatsa and Babangida grew up together as childhood friends and enrolled same time at the Provincial Secondary School, Bida between 1957 and 1962… They attended the same military training school and were commissioned as officers the same day. They were 5 and 6. Mamman Vatsa was Babangida’s best man in 1966 when Babangida wedded his late wife, Oshimili goddess, Mariam, daughter of Asaba.
In December of 1985, while Nigerians were prepping for the Christmas holidays, Mamman Vatsa was arrested and charged with treason. The news shocked the nation. The average citizen did not believe the Babangida’s propaganda for his reasons for arresting the Minister of Federal Capital Territory, as Abuja was designated. Various organizations including the Student Union orgs and Nigeria’s best playwrights: Prof JP Clark, Prof Wole Soyinka and Prof. Late Chinua Achebe, pleaded with the Babangida administration to reconsider its Treason charges against Maj Gen Vatsa and spare his life. Babangida was stubborn. He was not ready to forgive his best friend. So on March 5th 1986, Babangida, as head of State signed off on the execution of his brother and friend “following a military conviction of him for his participation in an abortive coup of December 1985. Vatsa and Babangida belonged to the ” northern soldiers elite caliphate”.
He did not spare his own best friend: he cooked up allegations of an alleged coup and before Nigerians could go to bed that evening, he executed Vatsa, leaving Domkat Bali, the Head of the Supreme Military Council, with the responsibility of announcing the execution during a 7p.m televised address to the nation. The horrific death of Vatsa would impact his family, especially his wife who retired to their farm, lived for almost two decades before she too died. She never recovered from that betrayal of friendship and brotherhood by Babangida. Vatsa’s first son died a few years ago. You see how Babangida, your today’s idol, destroyed a family to hold onto power.
Seven months after he executed Maj General Vatsa, Babangida ordered a letter bomb to be delivered at the home of Nigeria’s finest and fearless journalist, Late Dele Giwa. On Sunday morning of October 19, 1986, at breakfast, Dele Giwa was decimated by a blast from an envelope which had the Presidential seal on its top left. He was having breakfast with his London correspondent, Kayode Soyinka. By the time Late Thomas Umoru and I( From The Punch Newspapers), got to the hospital at Ikeja that Sunday evening where Giwa’s body was deposited, Dele’s body was cold: all we saw was a shredded and severely burnt body, his penis was attached to his shredded torso by a single vein. His waist and lower abdomen were shattered; his intestines swam in the gushing blood which mixed with his faeces. He was placed on a slab in the veranda of the hospital, awaiting a transfer to the morgue. Dele Giwa was smeared in his own blood. This was the work of Babangida you want to pray for, today. Where were God and Allah when he committed those atrocities.
Babangida mortgaged our nation’s economy to IMF, borrowed babanla loans to service a failed economic policy without exit plans for it’s inflation. Inflation was near 1,000 percent, unemployment was highest in our land. University graduates couldn’t find jobs, retrenchment of workers became normal in an abnormal time. Cost of living and minimum wages could not even give us a minimum lifestyle. Wages of workers were not paid or were delayed, teachers’ salaries too. Homes and hospitals became funeral homes of those who died of starvation. Families struggled. Retrenched husbands were no longer heads of their households. Survival was a distanced prism. While Nigerians suffered, the supreme military council rewarded it’s members with rivers of oil wealth and lavished lifestyles: Theophilus Danjuma and Babangida today are enjoying those loots from our commonwealth while our citizens could barely afford three meals a day, husbands and fathers waited for months for paychecks or stories, those retrenched due to scarcity of raw materials for production sat at home, frustrated and hopeless. I lived those times as a young reporter for The Punch. Babangida battered and brutalized our economy with Structural Adjustment Program that destroyed our meager existence.
So to this Facebook generation, he achieved best by building the third mainland bridge? That na achievement?. No. That was a necessary project. The old Cater Bridge built by colonialists had lived out its span.
He moved to a new Federal territory as an achievement? You must be stupid. How did that impact the average Nigerian? Who owns most properties in Abuja? Your father fit buy land today for Abuja?
Babangida ruined our lives and days of glory. If you lived those years of his administration, you should know August 27 1984- August 27 1993. General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida destroyed innocent lives. Go and study your history. Get off Facebook. Get educated. Read your history to know the story. If I lie make Edumare, Ifa and Land punish me.
I pray for a comfortable managed care for his health challenges. It’s a huge challenge for the family of strokes victims where there are needs for managed care and assisted living for the patient. My mother suffered two strokes in 2008. She was paralyzed. My siblings and I went through tested periods caring for a once strong black, beautiful and compassionate woman, disabled by a stroke. She died in 2013. My mother was just an everyday citizen of Nigeria. She was you and I…She was not a Head of State, Babangida was. So let us remove sentiments and face reality. Babangida and other Military and civilian Heads of the Nigerian State destroyed our nation. Forget sentiments. We all have dates with death. Accountability matters.