BABANGIDA AT 80 CELEBRATIONS ARE IN ORDER.
BABANGIDA AT 80 CELEBRATIONS ARE IN ORDER.
“The most uncharitable critic of IBB, after experiencing four other administrations (Shonekan, Abacha, Abubakar and now Obasanjo) readily concedes that but for the annulment of June 12, 1993, IBB would have been an untainted hero.” Double Chief Duro Onabule, Chief Press Secretary to IBB.
(IBRAHIM B BABANGIDA (1985-1992): LETTING A THOUSAND FLOWERS BLOOM.
To the governments with which we must compare the Babangida regime, we must now add Yar’Adua, Jonathan, and now, six years of President Buhari. While not asking for an answer to be made public; and, not now ready to offer any comparison myself, there is no doubt in my mind that anyone old enough to remember the situation in Nigeria from August 1985 to 1993 has reached his own conclusion. Journalism has already been recognised as the first rough draft of history. Those in the media in 1991, and even most of those there now in 2021,, might not realise that they were/are writing the history of their era.
Perhaps, the assistance that I can give to those wanting to refresh their memories is to ask them to go to the National Library and request for copies od newspapers during that era. The differences in the front page news of 1991 and 2021 will be startling. I just went through the exercise myself. And I came across something astonishing, some of which was not included in the book mentioned above. The two together illustrate why those still judging Babangida only on the basis od June 12, 1993 election are ignorant of how history is written in enlightened societies. No individual leader or government is judged only on one issue – after spending eight years in office.
VALUE ADDED TAX, VAT.
“There are times when a leader must move ahead of the flock, go off in a new direction, confident that he is leading his people the right way.”
Nelson Mandela, 1918-2013, VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS, p 124.
I was not an admirer of IBB when he was in office. But, I was also not a blind critic. I took my position based on what his government introduced. Some, to me were not good; others were incredibly so great, they were years ahead of the rest of the country. One such outstanding contribution to our country’s economic development was the value Added Tax, VAT. The vast majourity of the vocal elite were against it. I was one of a small minority who supported it. The media, then populated by economic illiterates and socialists was almost unanimous in its condemnation of VAT. Writing for VANGUARD on Monday at the time, I found myself crossing swords with more established columnists on VAT. I repeatedly told them that history would vindicate IBB for approving the proposal brought by Dr Kalu Idika Kalu – former Federal Minister of Finance.
History has already given its verdict in favour of Babangida for having the courage to go against the wish of the vast majority of Nigerians and deciding in their interest. Today, VAT every month drops over N120 billion into the Federation Account for sharing among the three tiers of government. It is the largest single source of revenue for governments in Nigeria.The critics have been silenced for ever. I only wish they have the decency to say “Thank you”.
STATES CREATED BY IBB ADMINISTRATION
“Grace under pressure”. That was how Ernest Hemingway, 1891-1961, defined courage; which to me is the greatest of human attributes.
Babangida had it in abundance. Most Nigerians have forgotten his heroic role in bringing Dimka’s coup to an abrupt end when he walked ito the premises of Radio Nigeria, unarmed, to confront a drunk bur armed Colonel Dimka. One false step and he would be dead; and the history of Nigeria would have been different. Earlier in his career, he had on the battle field risked his life to save his colleague Duba who was mortally wounded unless evacuated. Babangida, risking his own life volunteered to go and carry Duba. The two officers lived long enough to become Chief of Army Staff, CoAS. But, of all his acts of courage, to me, his most remarkable must have been increasing Nigerian States from 19 to 30 in a span of six years as military President. Perhaps it is divinely ordained that he will live to be 80 and to see the states in 1987 and 1991 celebrating their 34th and 30th anniversaries of state creation.
State creation was not pioneered by IBB. It was started during the civilian government of Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, the Prime Minister of Nigeria until 1966. The coalition government he led, consisting of NPC and NCNC members had ganged up to create the Mid-Wes Region out of the Western Region in a bid to weaken Awolowo’s AG – which controlled the Western Region. General Gowon had created 12 states out of the foue he inherited at the end of the Civil War, 1967-1970. General Murtala Mohammed increased the number to 19. Bringing governments closer to the people was among the major objectives of IBB’s government. He was convinced that a more balanced devepolment would result from creating more states.
He started tentatively by creating two – Akwa Ibom and Katsina states out of Cross River and Kaduna States respectively – in 1987. Then, right in the middle of the transition to civil rule, scheduled to start in 1992, he created the largest number of states by any national leader. The following is the list of states created by Babangida.1. Akwa Ibom — 19872. Katsina — 19873. Abia — 19914. Adamawa — 19915. Delta — 19916. Edo — 19917. Enugu — 19918. Gombe — 19919. Kogi — 199110. Osun — 199111. Taraba — 199112. Yobe — 1991
Obviously, anybody holding elective office in any of those states; or who has been appointed to lucrative positions on account of being an indigene of any of these states owes the good fortune partly to the creation of the state in 1987 and 1991. I strongly believe that these fortunate individuals, female and male, past and present owe IBB a sense of gratitude. They include governors, military and civilian, Ministers, Senators, Members of Federal House of Representatives, Speakers of States Houses of Assembly, Executive and non-Executive Directors of Parastatals and other Institutions, Justices, Commissioners, VCs of Universities, Registrars of Polytechnics and Principals of Unity Schools, Commissioners of Police etc. Each of them should remember that he might not have been there if the state was not created.
Since this is only an introduction to the series of articles on Babangida at 80, permit me to mention that IBB created more institutions than all the other national leaders put together. I will just mention some of them for now.
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, Decree 48 of 1989, given the more permanent pandemic of various types of harmful and illicit drugs ravaging our youths is one for which its author deserves, bot only our gratitude but, a national monument. Nigeria was largely a transit country for hard drugs when it was introduced. Many questioned the urgency or the need for it at the time. Enforcement was lacklustre for years after a visionary leader introduced it. Perhaps, if successive governments had taken the decree seriously Nigeria would noy now be at the risk of losing two generations of our young people to drugs. Our expected leaders of tomorrow are losers of today. It is quite possible that no family is spared the ordeal of dealing with drug addiction and its consequences. Few laws passed by any other government, before and after, has been as essential and beneficial to Nigeria.
The Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC, Decree 45 of 1988 is another ageless decree; whose benefits are impossible to quantify. Only God knows how much higher road accident fatalities would have been with the “corpers”. Every life saved after horrible accidents is a testimony to uncommon leadership at the topmost level.
Permit me to stop here for now.
HOW TO JOIN THE CELEBRATION
VANGUARD is committed to celebrating IBB; and I feel deeply honoured to lead the parade. To be candid, I would have considered this role impossible five years ago. But, research and the truths revealed to me make it inescapable for me to undertake it.
Three ways are open for participating in this celebration.
One you can publish an advert. Two, you can write a tribute or testimony. Three, you can request for invitation to a COVID-19 compliant lunch.
All cash-backed adverts must be received by August 14, 2021. Babangida’s birthday comes up on August 17, 2021.
All requests for lunch invitations and invitations will be concluded on August 19, 2021. the lunch is in Lagos and on August 22, 2021.
Everything will end up in an album which will be delivered to Babangida. Copies will be made available to the IBB Library, Minna, VANGUARD Library and the National Library; as well as to those wanting them on request.
For more details, please contact the following numbers: 0808-982-8929, 0906-378-7310, 0703-813-4844. If all else fail, call me 0708-137-2829 email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
It was William Shakespeare who said, “I hate ingratitude in a man more than lying, vainness, babbling drunkenness..” VBQ p 103. I totally agree with him. And I believe there are thousands of Nigerians ready to wish President Babangida a Happy Birthday and Many Happy Returns. I have booked my own full page colour advert for August 17, 2021. Join me if you can.
I WAS IN NIGER STATE; SAW HORRORS
Because it will be uncouth to be planning this project without informing Babangida, I travelled to Niger State and Minna to brief him. I was there for three days. Our appointments usually scheduled for afternoon time, it was opportunity for me to go into some rural areas around Zungeru, Dr NNamdi Azikiwe’s birth place and along Bidda-Minna highway. Niger being the state with the largest land mass; and a major food basket, what I saw was an eye-opener regarding the great famine Nigerians will experience this year and in 2022. It was horrible…..