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, the notorious examples being Messers Gowon, Obasanjo, and Babangida.
These fractured elements of Africa’s debased 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 ombudsmen hadn’t squandered in their times the opportunities for peace and growth, eliminating progressive voices that sought to hold them to different account, Nigeria and, indeed, Africa would not have been the mess it is today.
By his statements, two-time head of state, General Olu Obasanjo, would proffer his usual glib-talk that he has ‘no apology, but explanation’, for their past deeds, which included prosecuting a needless civil war wherein they massacred two million Igbo innocents. The question is long lost why civil society didn’t have these specimens of humans spend the rest of their lives in prison, exile, or silent seclusion. And why not? Shehu Shagari, a member of the cabal of failures is wryly remembered by many for the dignity of his quietude, if only in tacit acknowledgement of having messed up four 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, mind and mien, analysed by his one of his kinsmen* as suffering from incurable inferiority complex, every escapade of the man in uniform and 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 commander-in-chief Murtala Mohammed in the Dimka-led coup. In those brief years, his lame-duck foreign policy witnessed reversal of the Murtala braying that somehow saw the nationalisation of British Petroleum in the fight for a free and independent Angola and all of Southern Africa. In Obasanjo’s uneventful, unremarkable, feudal-guided tenure, positive action was replaced with loud mouthed sterility.
If we discard the ludicrous declaration in 1979 that Nigeria will become one of the ten leading nations of the world by the end of the (twentieth) century and his OFN programme, Operation Feed the Nation, which soon panned out to kindergarten sing-song among school children, we are left only the memento of his commandeering adventure at Otta farms – a bogus acquisition that still could not even feed the general himself, until regrettable intervention by meddlesome political interlopers brought his portraiture back to state house in 1999 as ‘civilian’ president. The quote mark on civilian comes from Nigerian experience that there could be nothing civil about one whose avowed temperaments have been inebriated in the mind-control mechanism of the armed forces, the predatory robotoid mindset which they mistake for, and keep calling, patriotism(1).
That end of 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 allow him 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 literary drivels, to wit, 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 machinery 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 aged despots strutting around in the manner of Orwellian Napoleon and making a hogwash of pronouncements which further cast question marks on their real objective for the nation beyond primordial self interest? Both options defy a simple answer.
Ibrahim Babangida 1941 –
Perhaps the more vexatious of the hypocrisy of Nigeria’s leadership failures is Ibrahim Babangida whose seeming reticence nowadays might not be unconnected with his confessed preparation towards meeting his maker. This man’s ‘You-chop-me-I-chop’ regime, in local Nigerian parlance, 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 mainstream traditional and 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 Fahewinmi who cried wolf and sought justice were hounded and jailed by his gulag, inflation from the clueless Shagari austerity measures spiralled under Babangida’s structural adjustment programme. Cronies and cohorts of queer psychological orientations ruled the nation by his proxy. 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 tolerance, unity, faith, peace and progress. 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 clueless nonentity, Bashir Tofa, from Nigeria’s north.
Yakubu Gowon 1934 –
Before these strange dissonant couplets, Yakubu Gowon, a pitiful no-brainer from Nigeria’s Christian north, had been nose-led by the cabalists of the feudal estate in the horrid sixties to help sink a whole country in internecine warfare he should have averted if only he had the steel and honour to keep an accord.
Occasionally, these days, the inane octogenarian in him finds relevance in pontificating national unity on the pages of newspapers. It is currently a joke in local 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 of National Reprieve
Till date, the commissioned hypocrites and institutes of ridicule among the comity of civilised humanity 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 farcical dissembling of their historical culpability. Rather to keep on parroting unity and faith seems their endgame to the infernal.
And such is why Africa is slow to heal
A continent of chronic kleptomaniacs masquerading as leaders and fathers of nations has seemed the lot of Africa with its contact with the West. And so a legacy of KLEPTOCRACY was 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 past looters, these hypocrites of unity who cannibalised their nation under the watch of whole generations, must remain so sordid, so contemptible, so morally 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 these vile groups of humans who incarnated upon our nation space, no self-respecting writer, journalist, historian and educationist should fail to remind the readers, listeners, students and successive generations the amoral legacies of reprieved murderers and desecrators of our general estate.
Only when these ugly facts of history are established upon the collective memory might the people of Nigeria breathe new air 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 restructured 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 of 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.