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Re: An Ex-Excellency prepares to meet his maker

Despite the endless nicknames General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida was given while in and out of office as President, Sonala Olumhense has been trying his hands…

Despite the endless nicknames General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida was given while in and out of office as President, Sonala Olumhense has been trying his hands on other names to pin on him. In 2010, he called him the “Monster of Mina” and by May this year, he added Shaka Zulu.
In history, Shaka is remembered for the good, the bad and the ugly things he did. Sonala remembered only the bad and ugly things, ignoring his good deeds. He said Shaka killed his half -brother to become King and murdered many other men, women and animals to mourn his mother’s death. He did not even for once mention that as the man who conquered more than 100 independent kingdoms and created a viable Zulu Kingdom, Shaka is known and acknowledged globally as a military and political genius.
How on earth could Sonala conclude that Babangida’s government was remarkable for only two things: Corruption and the deaths of General Mamman Vatsa and Chief Moshood Abiola?
Did Babangida invent corruption in Nigeria? No. The vice is as old as Nigeria itself.
Vatsa was convicted by a military court, established by a law put in place in 1976. While I agree that the death of Vatsa and the annulment of Abiola’s election are dents on the records of Babangida’s eight-year-old presidency, these two ugly events do not wipe away the fact that the man’s government assembled the best of brains in Nigeria to conceive and implement noble policies like the NERFUND, NEXIM, MAMSER, FRSC, ECOMOG, the Third Mainland bridge and realization of Murtala’s dream for a new Federal Capital. If Babangida’s government never did anything good, why have subsequent governments not screwed the nerve to reverse these policies?
Sonala referred to Maryam Babangida only once in his article. Even then he talks only of her death. This is the woman who founded the Better Life for Rural Women project that did a lot of good for Nigerian women. It succeeded in removing traditional prejudices and legal discrimination which made it impossible for women to access land of their own and credit facilities from banks. This was achieved through formation of women cooperatives which rose from 413 to 9,422 in four years. Using the programme as collateral, they were able to obtain technical assistance like fertilizers, credit facilities and improved variety of seedlings and high breed livestock from government and other agencies. The impact of these activities was instantaneous, nationally and internationally.
What provoked the most recent article by Sonala was a declaration by Babangida that he is not disturbed by false stories of his death because he is aware of the fact that he will one day go back to meet his Creator. Sonala then went down memory lane to recall an interview Babangida gave in 1985, where he nominated Shaka Zulu as his role model. He also created the picture of a Babangida trying to ape Shaka in brutality and evil for the eight years he ruled Nigeria.
For me as a Christian, I see Babangida’s interview as the best he has ever given. Salvation in Christianity is by Grace for those who have faith. Babangida in that interview expressed his faith in God and the hope to return to Him one day. It is only God through Grace that will save him and not the elaborate penance recommended by Sonala.
Emmanuel Yawe, a former Managing Director of Gongola Press, Yola, writes from Maitama, Abuja.

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