Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Article: Much Ado about Ibrahim Babangida…The Media Trial!

                                [Ibrahim Babangida]

There is no doubt that I am an avid fan of General Ibrahim Babangida, fondly called IBB by his admirers and haters alike. Even in the midst of the hue and cry by a disgruntled few, who feel they have the right to carry out a media trial given their utopian monopoly of the press, over his declaration to run for office of the President of Nigeria. What in the world has IBB done that all those clamoring for his head have not done, or will not do when the opportunity comes? What moral pedigree and justification does the anti-IBB elements parade, to condemn the efforts of a great son of Nigeria to join the race in turning Nigeria around for the better? Why haven’t all those calling for IBB’s head gathered evidence of all their allegations against him in all these past years and taken him to court since they know better than the authorities created for such purpose, instead of making blind and baseless accusations on a gentle man who has served his country diligently. What has this man called Ibrahim Babangida done, that has been proven beyond reasonable doubt in a court of law, to deserve this character assassination and image battery?

I will try to give a few answers to these questions and elaborate on them. First and foremost Nigerians should know that there is not one Nigerian including these anti-IBB campaigners that would take up the reigns of power and not have passionate criticisms from opposing camps and even from within their clique! No matter how sincere their efforts in governance.

This is purely a case of calculated attempt at stopping IBB from running for the post of President of our great Nation Nigeria, by certain elements who are judiciously intimidated by his decision to join the race. A pre meditated campaign by certain groups and individuals to stop the emergence of ‘extreme popularity’ because it is very glaring that Nigerians love the man IBB.

Coining a phrase from the words of Umberto Eco (the Italian medievalist and philosopher) “now I have come to believe that the man IBB is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret him as though he had an underlying truth” .

What excites me most is, that the maxim which states that ‘great men are born and not made’ is highly typical of Ibrahim Babangida. The distinguished General with a “diverse identity”. An enigma to those who don’t understand him, a true hero and an astute leader, a good father, and a loving husband. A man who pursued his dreams with a deep sense of commitment, a man who knew where he was going from day one, a man who did not just jump on the bus to go for a joy ride. That is Ibrahim Babangida.

A story goes that when growing up, his parents asked him where he would like to work and he said he would love to work in the Army. Lo and behold, he dreamed it, he willed it and he lived it!

During his days as military president, the structures of his policies were logically and aesthetically brought to the fore, well tailored to suit the yearnings of the people. Though he later learnt the hard way that a chain is no stronger than its weakest link.

IBB became a phenomenon and his opponents were foisted with a complex of inferiority that tend to disarm them each time the General ruffles his feathers. IBB has proved to be an adroit leader, who has shown more superiority than any other leader in the history of this Nation Nigeria. A man given to accommodating negative criticisms, from a disgruntled few, with his gap toothed smile and would never dignify his detractors with a reaction.

In the midst of all the slandering, name calling and persecution, his opponents keep forgetting he initiated most of the critical policies which several governments after his, built upon. In order words he laid the foundation in areas such as Privatization, deregulation, liberalization of the banking sector, telecommunications liberalization amongst others. And let us give it to him, he conducted the freest and fairest election in the history of Nigeria!

IBB declared his intention to run for the office of the President of Nigeria and all hell broke loose! Suddenly people are crying wolf where there is none, chaos when there is none, confusion where there is none and trouble; all, being objects of the mind. The media has suddenly been inundated with series of corruption allegations against IBB, none of which has ever been proved!

Let me humbly ask these questions to those opposed to IBB running for President on account of spurious allegations of corruption. Has these allegations ever been proven in any court of competent jurisdiction? Seriously, on what basis do they want IBB disqualified? Is it based on some prophesy by some prophet?

IBB has not been found wanting by any court of law and has no record of conviction for fraud neither is there any official gazette indicting him for dishonesty and therefore he is qualified to seek public office in compliance with constitutional provisions. IBB deserves a shot at the presidency as much as any other citizen of this country. For crying out loud, , it is his fundamental human rights to vie for any elective position!

If any individual or group are opposed to the ambition of IBB in democratically seeking the office of the President, they should go about it democratically by either producing their own candidate or get nominated by a political party, then take the battle to the polls! That is the most decent thing any civilized society would do. In fact that is the main essence of politics and elections!

The past few weeks in the press has been dominated by the IBB declaration with the anti- Babangida elements at work, the same individuals using different media outlets in order to paint a picture of a “nationwide outcry” over the declaration by IBB.

As the election timetable edge closer, Babangidas’ figure looms large over the political landscape and these individuals feel threatened, and I do not blame them because they have every right to be threatened by a man whose personality seems ‘larger than life’.

Honestly, General Ibrahim Babangida should be given a chance so he can test his popularity among the masses and in doing so the anti-Babangida elements can also test their popularity and acceptance as saviors of Nigeria, by garnering enough votes from the Nigerian masses to keep IBB away from the Presidency.

The truth is that these individuals know that they cannot muster enough votes to stop IBB, a man destined to lead and an exemplary leader with a large heart, so they take to media blackmail and trial in order to stigmatize the personality of this man IBB. Time does sail and we shall all bear witness to the events as they unfold by the grace of God.

The coming months will prove more exciting. Democracy has come to stay!

By C. N Nzewi