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IBB and the Nigerian youths

The general argued that he had waited for a new generation of Nigerian leaders to emerge but to his dismay, none has emerged with the…

The general argued that he had waited for a new generation of Nigerian leaders to emerge but to his dismay, none has emerged with the credibility to take the country to its required destination. In his words to the BBC: “I introduced youth politics in 1989, but I have seen they are not ready to bring about change now.” He added: “I left government 17 years ago. They should have been leaders now.” He further stressed that the youths do not have the relevant experience to take on the responsibilities of the country.

What knowledge does he have regarding the problems of an average Nigerian youth of today in order to determine their capability/incapability of leading the nation?

Who are the Nigerian youths he is talking about who have performed below expectations ever since he (Babangida) left office?

On what scale has he placed the likes of Nuhu Ribadu, Donald Duke, Nasir el-Rufa’i, Babatunde Fashola, Orji Uzor Kalu, Hon. Faruk Lawan and a host of other aspiring Nigerian youths who mean well for the country? Nigeria has a cream of educated intellectuals and patriots who can move the country forward both economically and democratically but they are denied avenues of doing so.

For those who do not know this man or those who may have forgotten, this is the first Nigerian president to keep Nigerian university students at home for almost a whole year in the guise of confrontation with ASUU. This led many a Nigerian youth to become victim of circumstances. Ever since then, our educational system has been bastardised. Now, he unapologetically reappeared to insult the collective intelligence of the Nigerian youths asserting that they cannot perform. What an insult!

Again, it was during this man’s regime that primary school teachers embarked on a strike for the first time due to the bad handling of the sector. As for the June 12, 1993 elections however, IBB cancelled the presidential election believed to be the freest and fairest before formal results were made public. He usurped the democratic process by annulling the results and rationalised his infamous action, claiming he and the NDSC had uncovered evidence of massive electoral fraud. Funny enough, he never presented any evidence to the Nigerian people and never released the June 12 results till date.

Aggrieved citizens in the Southwest responded to Babangida’s announcement with public protests and civil disobedience campaigns which later turned violent.

After the nullification of the June 12 elections, his regime’s arrests of human rights and prodemocracy advocates increased. The regime detained leading supporters of Chief Abiola who is the apparent winner of the June 12 election.

There are credible reports, however, that his regime solely relied on arbitrary arrest and detention as a means of silencing its critics and made a series of decrees systematically restricting press freedom. In other cases, the regime charged journalists with conspiracy or sedition for publishing materials that were critical of the government or which the government deemed inflammatory without proven justification. The intensification of such attacks on the press resulted in the closure of six media houses, i.e.  The National Concord owned by the apparent winner of the June 12 elections, The News, The Punch, The Sketch and The Observer.

During his regime in June 1986, the NLC decided to protest the murder of four Ahmadu Bello University students by the police. Babangida detained the labour leaders. Again in 1987, many labour leaders were thrown into detention. They included then NLC President, Ali Chiroma,   Secretary General, Lasisi Osunde, spokesperson, Salisu Nuhu Mohammed and Treasurer, Steven Oshidipe when the NLC demandedthe  a new minimum wage and placed adverts showing the regime lied on oil subsidies.

 In order to cope with reduced oil revenues, his regime adopted an indigenous Structural Adjustment Program (SAP) in 1986. While the SAP was a success in some respects, the economic conditions of the average Nigerian remained difficult because of the widespread unemployment, inflation and underemployment. Budget deficits financed by money creation pushed inflation into the 80 to 90 percent range during 1993. In contrast however, the elites continued to prosper at the detriment of the poor masses who are the majority of the Nigerian population that lived in poverty.

The leadership challenges faced by Nigeria is because the old guards are not ready to give way to new, fresh and aspiring minds.

Let me reiterate here that Nigeria will never achieve any meaningful economic, political and social transformation so long as these obnoxious cliques are allowed to continue steering the affairs of our state.  They keep rotating the affairs of the state without any atom of development.

 Kamal writes from Abuja. Email: [email protected]

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