By John Akpaide
An open letter to Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida
January 29, 2015 – Brave General, it is traditional to start a letter by stating, “It is my pleasure to write you this letter.” I have followed this tradition countless times. But I must confess that never have I been more truthful in using that cliché than now. It is, indeed, a great pleasure, though you may not know me. And, unfortunately, I have neither wish nor desire of being personally introduced to you.
My decision to write to you was through fortuitous circumstances. I read on the Facebook wall of Mr Monday Ekong, an elder statesman, that you said the following: “The president came here to ask for my support, I had only fifteen minutes… When he came I told him that he made two political mistakes: first, was to lose Rotimi, the Governor of Rivers State. When the crisis was going on, Governor Rotimi was here to pay me a visit. I confronted him and he spoke to me very honestly.
Despite the problems, he was not ready to leave the PDP then. Gen. Obasanjo, myself and few others intervened in the matter as leaders of the party but the president did not foresee the current situation and didn’t take our advice seriously. Rotimi is one young man I like so much for his honesty.
He is very bold and always committed to his conviction. I told President Jonathan that the second mistake he made was to call Obasanjo a motor park tout. What an insult! That was wrong and the beginning of his problems. How many times had he seen Obasanjo insult Gowon? I told him that supporting him would mean to endorse the insult on Gen Obasanjo. I won’t. I advised him to go make peace with Governor Rotimi and Gen Obasanjo.”
Brave General, I must confess that I was intrigued, particularly with this thing about “not insulting people.” I agree with – instead of saying that an elder statesman is talking like a tout, you could say that he is talking like a farmer. But, brave General, you were the man who foisted one insolent evil General Sani Abacha on our dear nation. If you had not left him behind, Kudirat Abiola, Bagaudu Kaltho (a journalist), Ken Saro-Wiwa, Alfred Rewane, and a lot of others would still, probably, have been alive today.
You were still living in your beautiful mansion in Minna, when General Sani Abacha arrested General Obasanjo like a common criminal, handcuffed him, tried him for a phantom coup and gave him a life sentence. Brave General, was this not an insult? Was this not a graver insult than merely calling a statesman a tout?
Yet it is not on record that you went to Gen Abacha, your bosom friend, and told him, “How many times have you seen Obasanjo handcuffing Gowon or taking him to court? Go and make peace with Obasanjo.” Brave General, it is not on record that you told General Sani Abacha, when he formed the five political parties that you would not support him until he made peace with Obasanjo because supporting him would mean endorsing his “insult” on Obasanjo. Brave General, did you lose your courage? Or did you lose your balls?
You advised President Jonathan to go and make peace with Governor Amaechi. Brave General, tell me the truth, have you, as a general, ever gone to make peace with a colonel? Why did you not advise Amaechi to go and make peace with the President? Brave General, I hope this was not a calculated attempt to humiliate the President? By the way, brave General, what do you know about peace?
Are you not the man who was summoned to appear before the Oputa Truth and Reconciliation Committee set up by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo (then president) and you bluntly refused? The late Gani Fawhehini, had wanted you to appear and “make peace” over the Dele Giwa issue and let the nation know that you never had a problem with Dele Giwa. Brave General, you did not show up! Neither did your friend, Major General Buhari show up! Was this not an insult on General Obasanjo?
Brave General, you had an opportunity to make peace with Mamman Vatsa, who was your best man when you married. He even begged to meet with you and settle the matter. You did not make peace with him! May his soul rest in peace. Just like your friend Amaechi, Gideon Orkar was an honest, bold young man and committed to his conviction. You did not make peace with him. So this peace talk, where is it coming from – I suspect your lips not your heart?
Brave General, you ruled our country for eight years. Within the eight years, there were many cases of the killing of Christians in several cities in the north. Tens of thousands of Christians were killed and a countless number of churches burnt.
Brave General the perpetrators of these genocides and arsons were routinely arrested by the police and army. But do indulge me a bit and think, “Did you ever secure the conviction of any one for killing a Christian or burning a church?” JUST MENTION ONE NAME MY BRAVE GENERAL AND I WOULD GIVE YOU A MEDAL.
Brave General, let me help your memory though. Do you remember General Zamani Lekwot? He was the only one whose conviction (death sentence) was secured and he was a Christian, who led other Christians to defend themselves from rioters and looters in his community. He was only spared because of public outrage.
Brave General, in spite of the eroding effect of age, you should surely remember that the killings of Christians in the North intensified after you single-handedly smuggled Nigeria into the Organization of Islamic Countries.
The issue sharply divided Nigerians along religious lines. You should also remember the June 12 election, which you spent billions to conduct with no intention of handing over. Why do I think you had no intention of handing over? Because when you eventually were forced out of office on the date you said you were leaving, you said you were “stepping aside as a personal sacrifice.”
Brave General, I started by saying that it was my pleasure to write to you. I believe that I can now define my “pleasure.” I am happy that you are not supporting President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. He should rather fail (if God so desires) with good company, than win with bad company. I do not believe that “An Evil Genius” can support a Godly cause.
I pray for you everyday because the Bible enjoins us to pray for our enemies. I even like the gap in your teeth, though I have never liked what comes out of your mouth. God bless you brave General and may He keep you in APC.