I watched with solemn gloom when I noticed the evident presence of eminent government personalities at the 71st birthday celebration of the gap- toothed, past Military Dictator of Nigeria, Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida. The current Vice President, Arc. Namadi Sambo did not hold back words of adulation as he was quoted to have said -
“As a statesman, we are proud to say that you have played and still playing your role to ensure peace, progress and prosperity in our country. We wish you many more years, many more years, many more years and many more years.” – (http://www.vanguardngr.com/2012/09/sambo-lauds-ibb-for-promoting-peace-unity-among-nigerians/)
In my own opinion, it was him Babangida who tore away the last thread on our fabric of integrity as a nation. His Structural Adjustment Programme sent inflation spiraling from 5.4% in 1986 to 40.9% in 1989) and by the time prices had skyrocketed and poverty had eaten deep into pockets and pots of families, men and women who would never have stolen a dime from anyone did not mind changing figures as civil servants in order to make ends meet. Teachers lost interest in their passion to transform younger generations and concentrated on buying and selling.
Those who could have held on the reins of truth were thrown overboard with constant lashing of information on the flashy lifestyles their colleagues enjoyed as a result of their ill gotten wealth. Who would have wanted to be left out anyway?
It was in the days of the Babangida that white elephant projects became the order of the day in government circles. Government agencies would award projects, release money to contractors, commence work on a small portion of the project, maintain media hype, share the rest of the money between the contractors and agency officials and never complete the project. Successive governments noted how this strategy perfectly worked on Nigerians and did not fail to adopt it. Typical examples are the modernized railway project by the Obasanjo administration in 2006, the 6,000 megawatts promise by Yar-adua administration in 2009.
Babangida prided himself at so adept in swaying Nigerians that he named himself the Evil Genius. The annulment of the 1993 polls remains fresh on the minds of those who witnessed it and though he may have accepted responsibility for the act, I don’t think posterity will ever forget and leave out justice from being served.
As at 1993 when he was eventually hauled out of Aso Rock, Nigerians had been schooled in being’ smart’ and ‘knowing your way’ which empowered us to know how to excellently initiate and execute illicitly without getting caught.
Thank God that history, once etched cannot be erased. We may look away or feign dementia but the day truth would be recalled, then the Honour Rolls will be rewritten and those that belong to the Hall of Shame will take their rightful positions.