African Leadership Failure: The Notorious cases of Gowon, Obasanjo and Babangida of Nigeria
by Chin Ce
IT’s inconceivable the indignity Nigerian people are made to suffer daily by having to endure the regular utterances of their failed leaders, notorious examples being Messers Gowon, Obasanjo, and Babangida.
These elements of fractured leadership never tire of every gale of chance to proclaim in their fraudulence, nonetheless, how their fascist (mis)governance was as God had willed it to happen to their country. Yet if these self styled political ombudsmen nowadays hadn’t squandered in their times the opportunities for peace, growth and transformation, choosing rather to eliminate progressive voices that sought to hold them to different account, Nigeria and, indeed, Africa would not have been in the mess it is today.
By his statements, two-time head of state, General Olu Obasanjo, would proffer his usual glib-talk of having’no apology, but explanation’, for their past deeds, which included zealously prosecuting a needless war wherein they massacred two million Igbo innocents. The question is long lost why civil society didn’t get them to spend the rest of their lives in prison, exile, or forcible seclusion. Even Shehu Shagari, a member of the failures, will be wryly remembered for the dignity of his quietude, if only in tacit acknowledgement of a messed-up four and going-to-five years of opportunity for democratic greatness under himself and his generation of co-travellers.
But not so for Obasanjo.
Olusegun Obasanjo 1937 –
A man of squalid clumsiness of mind and mien, analysed by his kinsman* as having a complex, any escapade of the man, whether in uniform or local agbada, has seen unmitigated disaster for the Nigerian nation since the late nineteen sixties of the Nigerian war.
Obasanjo will be remembered for his three years as military head of state after the assassination of his comrade Murtala Mohammed in the Dimka-led coup. In those brief years, his lame-duck foreign policy saw to a reversal of the Murtala braying that somehow enabled the nationalisation of British Petroleum in the fight for a free and independent Angola and some of Southern Africa. During Obasanjo’s uneventful, unremarkable, feudal-guided tenure, positive action was replaced with loud-mouthed sterility.
If we discard his ludicrous declaration in 1979 that Nigeria will become one of the ten leading nations of the world by the (twentieth) century, and his OFN programme, Operation Feed the Nation, which only panned down to kindergarten sing-song among school children, we are left only the memento of his commandeering adventure at Otta farms – a bogus land grab that still could not feed the general himself, until regrettable intervention by political interlopers brought his meddlesome portraiture back to state house in 1999 as ‘civilian’ president. The quote mark on civilian comes from our knowledge that there could be nothing civil about these Nigerians inebriated in mind-control by their armed forces – the reptilian robotoid mindset they had mistaken for, and kept calling, patriotism(1).
Ironically, our twentieth century which Obasanjo had predicted for Nigeria’s rise to world status was to culminate under his presidency in harrowing eight years of national corruption, abuse of power and sale of government assets in the name of a privatisation and monetisation policy. Allied with an insane bid to alter the constitution to award himself a third tenure, Obasanjo’s twice-failed despotism offered nothing to actualise the potential of a nation or improve the lot of the suffering majority of Nigerian people.
Rather, lacking in human compassion, a symptom of being stoked in occult demonism, Aso Rock under the author of such drivels as My Command and This Animal Called Man, slipped in positive international rating and descended in odium as one of the most corrupt governments of the world. His Financial Crimes Commision was first to morph into witch-hunt against political opponents, while a satanic band of his preferred sycophants and toadying hangers-on in his Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, fed fat on the cabalism and mediocrity of his civil dictatorship.
Having sponsored corruption at senate, bribing assemblymen to have his less-than-nationalist way with the constitution, Obasanjo’s leadership ended ignominiously, but not until he had succeeded in turning himself and his cult followers into millionaires from state capture and fraudulent privatisation exercises.
Is it the forgiving spirit, or illiterate disinterest, of Nigerian masses that regale these aged despots in the manner of Orwell’s Napoleon as they make their hogwash of pronouncements which further cast question marks on any real objective for the nation beyond primordial self interest? Both options defy any answer.
Ibrahim Babangida 1941 –
Perhaps the more vexatious of the hypocrisy of Nigeria’s leadership failures is Ibrahim Babangida who ruled from 1985 to 1992. His seeming reticence these days might not be unconnected with a self-confessed preparation towards meeting his maker. This man’s ‘You-chop-me-I-chop’ regime, in the Nigerian parlance of corruption, like Obasanjo’s, presided over serial liquidation of Nigeria’s intelligent citizenry.
The official complicity in the gruesome murder of Dele Giwa signalled the end of bold investigative journalism for Nigeria. Today’s traditional or online media are awash with quackery, dumbed down in sensationalist trivia, replete with poverty of vision and housemanship, squarely from that horrendous despatch of Dele Giwa by military parcel bomb under Babangida in 1987.
While true patriots like the immortal Gani Fawehinmi who cried foul and sought justice were hounded and jailed by his gulag, inflation from the clueless Shagari austerity measures spiralled under Babangida’s structural adjustment programmes. Cronies and cohorts of queer psychological orientations ruled the nation by his nod. Babangida was making millionaires of his debauched minions across the length and breadth of a twice-impoverished country. A pervert’s gimmick of compromising credible Nigerians became his game. Wole Soyinka, Tai Solarin, Humphrey Nwosu fell unsuspecting victims of one man’s bid to widen the corruptibility and ultimate reductionism of progressive elements into lap dogs and hedonist ego worshippers of the emperor.
Finally and most unforgivably came the reversion of a positive national trajectory, where people had united in real ‘unity, faith, peace and progress,’ far beyond the vision of their rabble-rousing national anthem. Babangida’s junta annulled the only credible, free and fair elections of 1993 since the history of Nigeria for the simple unacknowledged reason it was won by a powerful, independent-minded Moshood Abiola from Nigeria’s west and not the nonentity, Bashir Tofa, from Nigeria’s north.
Yakubu Gowon 1934 –
Before these dissonant couplets was Yakubu Gowon, a pitiful no-brainer from Nigeria’s Christian north. This colonel-turned-general was nose-led by the feudal estate in the horrid sixties, along with his friend and colleague, Odumegwu Ojukwu, to help sink a whole country in internecine warfare he should have averted if only he had the honour to keep an accord.
Occasionally, these days, the inane octogenarian in Dr. Gowon finds relevance in pontificating national unity on the pages of newspapers. It is a rueful joke in learned circles how both Gowon and Obasanjo had retarded their nation states to pristine bankruptcy, signed off to go get some education they never really had in the beginning, and were back few years later with their PhDs in continental retardation.
Hypocrites on a national reprieve
Till date, these self commissioned institutions of national ridicule have not had the moral imperative, let alone the introspection of age, to own up to their roles in extinguishing an African hope. Gowon, Obasanjo and Babangida have preferred the rotten old path of farcically dissembling their historical culpability in parroting unity and faith, which apparently might just prove their endgame to the infernal.
And such is why Africa is forever slow to heal
A continent of chronic kleptomaniacs masquerading as leaders and fathers of nations has seemed the lot of Africa from its contact with the West. Many such regimes of KLEPTOCRACY are foisted upon the continent, empowering government and legislation in the hands of thieves. Evidenced all round Nigeria are thieving senators, thieving representatives and thieving governors. Which is why the ghosts of these looters, these hypocrites of unity, who cannibalised their nation under the watch of whole generations, must remain so sordid, and so reprehensible to collective sensitivities, as to be ostracised and exorcised, by every means necessary, from the personal or collective domain.
Where it is inevitable to engage our discourse on such awful humans who had incarnated upon our nation-space, let us suggest that no self-respecting writer, journalist, historian and educationist should fail to remind the readers, listeners, students and successive generations the amoral legacies of these murderers and desecrators of our general estate.
Only when some ugly facts of history are not brushed aside from collective memory might the people aspire to choose a new path of enlightenment. Only then might they rise to the moment of justice, enthroning progressive change with the new order they must vow to bring in through a grassroots-restructured political federation.
*It was Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka who first mooted the idea publicly by the year 2000 that the know-it-all Otta farmer must be suffering from incurable inferiority complex.
1.Fortunately it seems a collective Nigerian realisation that, after the Buhari misadventure from 2015, no retired general of any Nigerian army, navy, air (not excluding their eternally corrupt police) force should be allowed the commanding heights of national leadership ever again.