Pulse Opinion: How IBB dribbled Nigerians like the Maradona he is

How IBB dribbled Nigerians like the Maradona he is

With all the confusion that trailed his recent letter to Buhari, IBB has shown that he is still Maradona.

Former Nigerian military ruler, Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida (IBB) wrote a letter, denied that he wrote one and then accepted that he actually wrote one—all in the space of a couple of hours last Sunday. It was yet one more proof that the man who was nicknamed ‘Maradona’ and ‘Evil Genius’ from 1985 to 1993, hasn’t lost any of his sinister tricks.

The content of IBB’s letter was in keeping with the prevailing Obasanjo narrative. President Muhammadu Buhari and his APC, IBB wrote, haven’t been particularly stellar in their responsibilities and shouldn’t seek another term at the center.

 

“In the fullness of our present realities, we need to cooperate with President Muhammadu Buhari to complete his term of office on May 29th, 2019 and collectively prepare the way for new generation leaders to assume the mantle of leadership of the country,” IBB’s first memo read.

“This is the time for us to reinvent the will (sic) and tap into the resourcefulness of the younger generation, stimulate their entrepreneurial initiatives and provoke a conduce (sic) environment to grow the national economy both at the micro and macro levels”.

Military intervention

IBB would go on to say how he recruited the best brains as military president, how he sacked Buhari in 1985 because “we had a clear-cut policy agenda on what we needed to achieve.

 

“We need new ways and new approaches in our political order. We need a national rebirth. We need a rebranded Nigeria and rebranded politics. It is not so much for the people, but for the institutions that are put in place to promote our political engagements.

“We must strengthen the one-man one-vote mantra. It is often ridiculous for me when people use smaller countries in our West African sub-region as handy references of how democracy should be. It beggars our giant of Africa status,” he added.

Rebuttal

Within minutes, a press statement ostensibly from the IBB camp, was denying the retired General’s authorship of the memo.

 

“It has been drawn to my attention a press statement on the state of the nation, particularly the 2019 general elections and beyond.

“Let me categorically state that as a former president and statesman, I have unfettered channels of communication with the highest authorities without sensational public correspondence, therefore, those views expressed over there are the personal views of the writer”, the statement from IBB read.

Acceptance

Before you could say ‘Maradona’, Kassim Afegbua who has worked as IBB’s spokesperson all these years, was on TV to stress that he didn’t know where the rebuttal came from and that the first letter was duly signed by his principal.

“The statement is in order. IBB did not hold any press conference in Minna. It was overzealous people that issued that statement of his denial. I wouldn’t issue any statement without his approval. Go ahead with the statement. I have spoken with him and he said he has not recanted the statement,” Afegbua was quoted as saying by Daily Trust.

 

ThisDay also claimed to have rang IBB who said “the second statement was issued by friends and had nothing to do with him, but expressed concern that his initial statement issued by his media aide, Mr. Kassim Afegbua, had been misrepresented by the media.

“According to him, what his statement titled, “Towards a National Rebirth,” emphasised was for a new breed of leadership to emerge through the electoral process, but was not intended to deny President Muhammadu Buhari his inalienable right to vote and be voted for in the 2019 elections.

“He was emphatic that his statement did not counsel Buhari not to contest the 2019 elections as depicted by media houses in their headlines yesterday.

 

“Also, enquiries from sources close to Babangida revealed that the confusion arose due to the pressure mounted by the former military ruler’s son, Mohammed, on his father to retract the first statement and issue a toned down version.

“Indeed, the sources informed ThisDay that the second toned down version was not signed by Babangida but his son who simply appended the retired general’s name to the revised statement.

“But when Babangida got wind of what had transpired, he instructed Afegbua to reach out to media houses reaffirming the validity of the first statement”.

The master Dribbler

So it came to pass that in one Sunday, IBB dribbled himself and Nigerians like he did as military president–in keeping with the cliché that old habits really do die hard.

25 years after he told us he was “stepping aside”, IBB hasn’t changed much. He hasn’t lost much of his skills. 

 

It is also ironic that IBB who annulled Nigeria’s freest and fairest election to this day, would sermonize on the sanctity of the ballot and democracy; and how “we must strengthen the one-man one-vote mantra”. But that is subject matter for another day. Hypocrisy is certainly a thing in these parts.

It is a season of letters to Buhari not to seek re-election, we reckon. When Abdulsalami Abubakar, Yakubu Gowon and Sani Abacha’s ghost pen theirs, we’ll be here to report and analyze them all.

These retired generals just won’t go away.

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