By SOC Okenwa
Following the former President, Olusegun Obasanjo’s bombshell of a missive sent publicly to President Muhammadu Buhari few weeks ago General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, former military President cum dictator, had issued out his own scathing statement last Sunday by his long-serving Spokesman, Kassim Afegbua. The press release was tailored, as it were, towards passing a vote of no confidence in the incumbent President’s administration. Obasanjo’s bomb of a letter was hard-hitting and unsparing enough but that of Babangida was more profound, more undiplomatic, more uncharitable and more disdainful of Buharism. It was brimming with historical events and mindful of the past and present. And the future above all.
While OBJ accused Buhari of many things including nepotism and incompetence Babangida called for a “digital” revolution to replace the present “analogue” presidential situation on our hands. Obasanjo is used to finding fault in every President except himself, this we know to be true. But in finding fault in anyone occupying the high office he often comes out as a moral voice of reason in whom much is still dependent upon. But the same thing cannot be said of Babangida, so his critical take on national issues raised more suspicion, question than it answered.
Soon after the first statement released by Afegbua hit the national news headlines online another counter statement, this time purportedly signed by IBB himself, hit the scene seemingly countering what Kassim released and denying ownership of the content. Confusion set in and Babangidaism, in its bizarreness, was brought forward to national attention once again. Babangida is nearing his grave, so he must have thought that he should intervene now before it is too late! But he needs not to worry for history has reserved a place already for him in infamy.
Whereas OBJ’s anti-Buhari tirade, issued and signed by himself from Abeokuta, generated some fire and fury across the federation for its characteristic pungency the IBB first literary salvo provoked certain expected uproar leading to some unease at the seat of power. The premier epîstle (followed later by the second) caused an instant confusion simply because of the source. Between the Spokesman and the principal there appeared to be a definitive miscommunication or misrepresentation or both. For one, Babangida has effortlessly muddled up everything around him and about him as a master of subterfuge. For another Kassim Afegbua seemed to have exploited IBB’s age-induced ebbing intellectual power and energy to foster his political ambition.
But by standing by the initial statement authored and distributed on his behalf by Kassim IBB proved not to be a coward. He had owned up to the statement even though the messenger served his selfish political interest to some extent. Now Afegbua is going about telling whoever cared to listen about his future political plans as if he was waiting for this moment all his life to use IBB’s name and national appeal or notoriety to ride to power at the local, state or national level.
Following the two diametrically opposed statements bearing Babangida’s name Afegbua was declared wanted by the Police authorities over what he had claimed emanated from the Minna ‘Prince’ of the Niger. He turned himself in and was allowed to go home after interacting with the law enforcement agents in Abuja. And subsequently, in what amounted to state-orchestrated intimidation, Afegbua was invited over by the DSS and after interrogation he was left off the hook. There is no way the security agencies could have ‘nailed’ Kassim on this one because IBB is very much alive and kicking, radiculopathy or not. It would have amounted to criminal scandal if IBB had not owned up to the statemant issued by his Spokesman on his behalf.