Babangida Democracy -


Babangida’s Strange Face As We Celebrated Democracy Day

By Emmanuel Aziken



Many will chuckle at how General Ibrahim Babangida and his enablers celebrated the June 12 Democracy Day holiday last Wednesday.

For all those who sought to bury what many regard as the most animated demonstration of democratic expression in modern Nigeria, last Wednesday must have been a nightmare.

It is a stain that will forever dot Babangida’s legacy. He would go down in history as one of Nigeria’s greatest leaders who brought to birth so many needed institutional reforms that helped Nigeria transit into a modern economy.  

However, all his positive reforms were swallowed by that broadcast that annulled the mandate the majority of Nigerians bestowed on Chief Moshood Abiola.

It is a lesson for leaders. It is also a special lesson for those given oversight of election management bodies. Nigerians can well see the way that Professor Mahmood Yakubu is regarded after failing to explain to Nigerians the technical glitch that clouded the 2023 General Election. It is a glitch that has ruled him out from the positive side of history.

Last Wednesday’s Democracy Day celebration was especially pointy as the chief celebrator happened to be one of the most formidable pro-democracy proponents during the years of military rule.

President Bola Tinubu’s place in history as a champion for democracy will remain in a dignified position in the annals of history.

His speech on that day was also dignifying. Not only did he look presidential in delivery, his list of the heroes of democracy also cut across tribe and tongue.

President Tinubu said several right things in that speech. It is no surprise that your correspondent counts that speech as about the best Tinubu has delivered since he became president.

However, it wasn’t perfect as there were about three negatives.

The first was the scant mention of Chief MKO Abiola, who laid down his life for the struggle. Abiola was only mentioned in passing in the fourth paragraph of the speech.

The roll call of the heroes of democracy conspicuously left out two prominent champions, Kofo Bucknor-Akerele and John Odigie-Oyegun. While Tinubu led the struggle from abroad, Bucknor-Akerele was a thorn in the flesh of the Sani Abacha junta at home.

Odigie-Oyegun was also with Tinubu in the struggle from abroad. Remarkably, the two conspicuous proponents were people who fell out with the president following the advent of the Fourth Republic.

The gist in some quarters was that they were left out because of the personal beef they had with Tinubu after 1999.

If it is so, that action diminishes the presidency rather than dignifying it. The president of Nigeria must be seen as the father of all who should bestow national honour irrespective of past personal proclivities.

Another minus on that glorious day was the unveiling of what was announced as the largest painting on canvas in the world. It was said to be the painting of President Tinubu. But others doubt. Some in acknowledgement of the poor work claim the painting is that of Tinubu’s brother or of someone looking like him.

Regardless, lifting such a painting of the president couched as the largest work on canvas in the world in a country with about the highest number of the poor is a contradiction. It shows a lack of empathy. Some have said that the president may not have been aware of this, it being the work of some palace sycophants.

President Tinubu showed a great sense of modesty in not listing himself and his wife, Oluremi among those listed in the list of democracy champions. That is despite the sacrifice he and his wife paid for the struggle.

So, it was out of place for those who made the painting to project him as if he were the only champion. Even if the organisers must present the largest work on canvas as coming from a country with the highest number of the poor, they could as well have made a collage of various champions putting Abiola at the centre.

It was also worthwhile hearing President Tinubu assert that the true essence of democracy was not the cyclical conduct of elections as was done in the former USSR and communist countries with predictable 99% turnout.

From this speech and despite the unpalatable nuances, the president has given hope of his readiness to forge ahead for a better and more democratic country.

He should be encouraged to walk the talk and demonstrate the leadership that the nation dearly needs.

Our First Lady, Senator Oluremi Tinubu was once quoted as having said that her family had been so blessed.

Now what the Tinubu family needs is a legacy of good governance that would enthrone the patriarch of the family in the hearts of Nigerians.

He should not live to regret as President Babangida surely must be regretting. Despite the military bravado of refusing to apologise for the sin against Nigeria in the annulment of June 12, Babangida would definitely not have been in the best of moods last Wednesday. After all, for a man who repeatedly sends messages to Nigerians on important occasions, he was totally subdued on June 12.

There was no message to congratulate Nigeria on our Democracy Day

Send Us A Press Statement Advertise With Us Contact

 And For More Nigerian News Visit GWG.NG

Click to comment


Exit mobile version