Yesterday I wrote about Charles Soludo’s article published in Vanguard Nigeria. It occurred to me that I had left out one important note of shame.
Any Nigerian who would stand in unironic praise of former army officer Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida’s so called economic achievements, as Soludo does in the aforementioned article, ought to be greeted with a roar of reproach so loud, it threatens to upend any accomplishment that person may be said have to their name.
Nigeria’s military ruler between 1985 and 1993, Babangida was effectively, and forcefully, succeeded by the now deceased former General Sani Abacha until the latter’s death in 1998. Between the efforts of both these men, Nigeria became a nation barely existing beneath a fog of fear and terror instituted by military regimes that had lost all command discipline. The population was neither safe on the streets nor in our homes. There is a generation of Nigerians whose childhood memories consist in terrified trips to and from school. Where every military road block and stop and search check was a reminder that one day you must die. Where a wrong word said to an often drunk or drugged up military officer was liable to get the driver forcibly dragged out of the car, beaten, and shot in the street or in the army barracks. So you will excuse me if I do not jump to agree with Soludo’s painting of Babangida as Nigeria’s answer to Lord Maynard Keynes.
Further it comes as a shock to me that Nigerians not only allow Babangida’s continued and free existence within our society but enable him to feel safe enough to engage in public commentary, as he did only a few days ago. In most other countries such men as Babangida are too terrified to live amongst the population once they have been removed from power and they retain the most basic sense of self respect by passing out their days in exile in some foreign territory. I fail to comprehend why our own population has not seen fit to impress upon him the good sense of doing the same.