June 12 And IBB's Comic Declaration

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Former military leader, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, IBB, on Wednesday at Eagle  Square, Abuja declared his intention to contest the 2011 Presidential election at a  ceremony described as a comic experience.  Moyo Fabiyi writes…

With a hired crowd numbering about 7,000 people, former military president General  Ibrahim Babangida brought more theatre to Nigeria’s national politics on Wednesday, 15  September, 2010.
The theatre hall was the Eagle Square, Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory. Aside the  fact that his home state, Niger, shares boundary with Abuja, the scenario clearly showed  that IBB could not muster an average of 500 people from each of the 36 states of Nigeria.

One Prophet James commenced the theatre of absurdity with his opening Christian prayer.  An Islamic cleric had earlier prayed in Arabic. Gallivanting and demonstrating, Prophet  James derailed from his assignment of saying the opening prayer when he started to  prophesy that IBB would win the presidential election in 2011.

And to add insult to the injury this prophet had inflicted on Christendom, his guests  especially IBB clearly demonstrated that they did not believe in his prayers. IBB and  others around him did not remove their caps to show reverence to God, did not close their  eyes and worse still, they were laughing for the 15 minutes or thereabout that the ‘man  of God’ Prophet James was dancing about on the podium.

National Coordinator of IBB campaign team and the CEO of Daar Communications, Dr. Raymond  Dokpesi, was prancing everywhere with his moves and gestures. He needed nobody to tell  him he is not an orator. His welcome address was full of sound and fury signifying  nothing.

The most notable political bigwig at the event and a former President of the Senate,  Chief Ken Namani, an orator no doubt was the first to speak on IBB’s experience. Other  speakers including Niger State Governor, Muazu Babangida Aliyu were to follow the  bandwagon. Nnamani was of the view that IBB has what it takes to make the difference in  Nigeria’s unpredictable political terrain. You may call it a slip of the tongue or  whatever, just like the Niger State Governor Aliyu, twice referred to IBB as “President”  or “Mr. President.”

Delivering a speech, Aliyu admitted that the responsibility of the office of the  President of Nigeria was enormous, requiring a combination of competence, intellectual,  capacity, discipline, individual broad-mindedness, etc, but he did not tell his audience  how much of these qualities his political godfather, IBB, possesses at 69. He will clock  70 next August.

Aliyu, fondly called Chief Servant by his admirers in Niger State, had been battling his  political godfather and other interest groups to secure a second term ticket. He  described IBB’s declaration as a PDP family affair. However, he deserved the commendation  of right thinking political pundits for accepting that if IBB could not win his party’s  primary, “he will remain a loyal member of the PDP.”  This statement can only come from  somebody who is ready and willing to accept defeat. He ended his eloquent oration by  urging the supporters to go back home and register as voters for the 2011 general  elections.

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Then ‘Maradona’ himself mounted the rostrum for almost 50 minutes. Initially he was  communicating. But after the first 10 to 15 minutes, IBB became so confused that he was  no longer addressing issues but  dancing round salient issues. For example, IBB who  muzzled the press via illegal closure of media houses and disobeying court orders at will  during the June 12 struggle, promised to fight corruption by strengthening the EFCC and  the ICPC. Can a government fight corruption where there is no freedom of expression?

Worste still, IBB failed to mention a word on June 12, 1993 presidential election won by  his friend, Bashorun MKO Abiola who was later murdered in detention. IBB thought he was  making a political point when he asked that a three-minute silence be observed in honour  of the late President Umaru Yar’Adua. But his audience hardly observed a 3-second  silence.

What IBB lacked in courage on June 12, his erstwhile image mender and former Minister of  Information, Chief Alex Akinyele tried to make up for. The Ondo high chief pleaded with a  Yoruba adage: Bi a o ba gbagbe oro ana, a o ni reni ba sere, meaning if one does not  forget the misdeeds of yesterday, one may be left with no friends to play with. With the  adage, Akinyele indirectly urged the Yoruba of the South West Nigeria to forget June 12  or at least forgive his political mentor, IBB. But will IBB himself ever admit guilt when  recently he ordered reporters not to ask him questions on June 12 and the late Dele Giwa?   IBB demanded for three minutes silence (not the traditional one minute) for the late  President Yar’Adua.

But he did not remember MKO Abiola who is much revered by Nigerians. He also conveniently  forgot that during the 1999 elections, the North conceded the office of the President to  the South West for the first time in the political history of Nigeria and the two leading  presidential candidates were from the South West. He forgot the man who laid down his  life as a ransom for the present political dispensation.

IBB’s first daughter almost added confusion to the theatre when she almost  slumped. Mrs.  Aisha Shinkafi, wife of the Zamfara State Governor was obviously exhausted owing to the  long speech her father, IBB, was making. She almost fell off the podium when her younger  sister and her father’s aides supported and moved her off the arena for a few minutes.  Aisha was resuscitated and she returned to the podium a few minutes later.

Perhaps, the most comical of them all was Dr. Kunle Olajide, one-time General Secretary,  Yoruba Council of Elders, YCE who was said to be at the event to represent the South  West. The masters of ceremony and presenters of Goge Africa on AIT, Mr. and Mrs. Isaacs  did not mention Olajide’s name. nor did the Ekiti-born spent force introduce himself. In  fact, he kept bending his head as if he was hiding his face from someone.

Olajide posited that of all Nigeria’s rulers, military or civilian, none has benefited  the South West than IBB. But he failed to mention the fact that the same IBB was  responsible for the death of one of the most illustrious sons of Oduduwa, MKO Abiola, who  won the fairest and freest election in  Nigeria’s history.

Now that IBB has declared his intention to contest next year’s presidential election,  Yoruba are waiting for him when he comes to Abeokuta, Ibadan and Lagos to campaign.  Perhaps he does not even need the votes from all the South West states put together.