Two things that many Nigerians do seem to know little about former President Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida popularly called IBB are his unflinching influence and unpredictable disposition in the Nigerian political game. Those who could recall the skeleton of his speech when he left the seat of power but which he has continued to influence from Minna is “step aside”. Although it is a military term, it has continued to remind the writer of that day, the 17th of August, 1993 when IBB displayed at the highest level his political astuteness, chivalrous patriotism, exceptional statesmanship and inspiring gentlemanliness.
It was a day IBB told Nigerians and the world that Nigeria, unlike any other country on the mother earth, was greater than any individual. IBB, unarguable conducted the freest and fairest election this country has ever witnessed in the past. But he believed that the peace, unity and prosperity of the country were not to be compromised for individual, ethnic, religious or regional sentiments and manipulations.
For those who may yet not know the implication of the phrasal verb “to step aside”, the man searched his heart, consulted with the people that mattered then and now and decided to give peace its due course in the country, but with the ever glaring intention and plan to come back one day when the people have realized that he did well and therefore call him to duty. If it is the will of God that 29th May, 2011 be the beginning of real change for our beloved country, let say a big ameen.
The Nigerian and international newspapers have of recent been awash with the news of the ploys for the return of the Nigerian political colossus to Aso Rock. Maybe the dream I had about these unfolding events over fifteen years ago will turn out to be true. But I think this is not a proper avenue to discuss it. However, the greatest news in the dream is that Nigeria will remain united, stronger and attain development.
The unity of this country has often been threatened with regional demands. All over the world, countries are uniting together to be stronger. That is why the unity of Nigeria should be paramount. It is also why the president must be the person why cannot toy with the unity and strength of the country. Former president Obasanjo was primarily made the president because of his love for the unity of Nigeria and if he achieved anything for Nigerians, the greatest was the sustenance of our indivisibility at the time our then nascent democracy let the people loose.
IBB is one Nigerian who has strived to keep the country united and strong in several aspects. I need not mention his achievements during his leadership as a soldier. He has every right to aspire to rule Nigeria under a democratic setting. Nigerians should try him in a democratic atmosphere and see his genius turn this country around for better, because events of the past showed that he possesses the experience, the guts and the vision for a greater Nigerian in a democracy.
While in Abeokuta recently, IBB spoke as a true, patriotic and detribalized nationalist. He was of the opinion that for the nation to make any appreciable progress, it must practise true federalism which he insisted was the issue for Nigeria. He backed the Uwais report on electoral reforms as the way forward in resolving the country's myriad of political challenges.
Hear him speak, “There is no such thing that I am the only solution to Nigeria's problems. I am not the absolute solution to Nigeria's problems, but I can only make my contributions.
Nigeria is the only country I have, at least, I have a contribution to make. What I want is for all of us, politicians, to be very tolerant. If we are tolerant, we will be able to move the country forward.”
Already, several rallies have been staged for the presidential ambition of the genius. A great number of political bigwigs in the Southern part of the country have openly and secretly endorsed him. In Anambra State, for instance, politicians gathered in Awka to openly drum support for IBB. Others are doing so individually and from the look of things, there may be a house-to-house campaign for IBB presidential bid.
For me, Nigeria needs the best heads to push it forward. Some of those who criticize human beings sometimes pretend to be saints. No man is ever free from mistakes, however minor. There are those who so much about repairing Nigeria, only to eat their words and become the worst enemies of democracy and the nation when they succeed in joining the leadership. Such people know themselves. So, considering the critical moment our country is facing, Nigerians should consider the best for 2011. They should defeat ethnic, religious and transcend political workings for the real change we all desire.
The simple fact is if God says IBB will be the next president of Nigeria, no one can stop it. How soon we tend to forget the story of former president Obasanjo who left the prison to Aso Rock Villa. Or the recent comeback of the like of Ribadu and el-Rufai who did their best but because they stepped on the toes of some 'untouchable' men, according to human assessment, they were hunted and chased out of the country.
IBB has been attending public function, preaching the way forward for Nigeria. I do not think he is doing so merely because of his presidential ambition. No one needs to be told that he has been consistent in defending the unity and indivisibility of Nigeria. The allegation that he instituted corruption in Nigeria may be far from the truth. The bare truth is that since independence, Nigeria has been dependent on foreign nations for its development. According to experiences with African countries like Ghana, Zimbabwe and South Africa, it is hard to develop when the real economy of your country is controlled by foreigners especially those of the Western world. All our past presidents have not been able to pull out of this trend. But for one who has been in the system and has studied this veiled foreign policy on our development, the tendency to affect a change is stark.
The media which fought for democracy should sustain the tempo with which it defeated military dictatorship. They should continue to fight for the complete enthronement of democratic tenets and values. When former president Obasanjo became a civilian president, there were certain things he did to improve Nigeria, at least to his conviction, but which would have not be possible as a uniform man. So, IBB will definitely add values, unlike before, to the lives of Nigerians. If truly he will contest under any party – preferably the PDP – he will surely be the candidate to beat. However, we shall continue to monitor events until the incumbent president declares interest.
Muhammad Ajah is a writer, author, advocate of humanity and good governance based in Abuja. E-mail: [email protected]