By BALA MUHAMMAD MAKOSA
I happened to know about General Babangida before he became the Nigerian President; this was because most of the northern elites were looking at him as an icon of the region worthy of emulation. If you enquire about reasons they regarded the man as an icon, they will say, “He fought for the well-being of Nigeria.”
At that time Nigerians were worried about the social and economic deterioration in the north and Nigeria at large; many people were yearning for Babangida to come and salvage Nigeria, especially the north.
After General Babangida toppled Buhari’s administration and became the Nigerian Military president, most of the northern elites were optimistic of the man, as a true patriot and great son of the north. Northerners began to disparage his administration, accusing him of not favouring the northern region in all aspects. This accusation continued till the end of his administration.
Meanwhile, with the recent northern summit held in Minna Niger State, which Babangida was also in attendance, I happened to dig and understand why he doesn’t favour the north while he was the Nigerian president, and now he is playing positive roles for the region. The response I got was quite simple and precise; “it was because Babangida swore by God he will steer the mantle of leadership without favouritism in favour of any region of the country”. I was really convinced with this simple response, but nevertheless I began to assess the role of Babangida in the well-being of the north, and the nation at large, now that he is not the Nigerian president. I happened to gather these facts:
Due to the current happenings in the nation, “General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida as a deserving patriot warned those questioning the unity of the nation that they will have to fight people like him, the same way they fought him when he was in the military during the Nigerian civil war. He insisted that Nigeria’s unity is a settled issue and cannot be revisited by forces which have recently emerged around the fiasco over the subsidy removal.
Other issues he said are settled as far as the nation is concerned include the federal structure, its republican character and its capitalist economy. General Babangida specifically took on the groups who have emerged in defence of President Jonathan and his policy on subsidy, and who are alluding to the possibility of a break-up of the nation in the event that the President himself, or his administration is harmed. He said he is willing to fight again to preserve the unity of the nation if need be, in spite of the fact that he is71 years old, and still carries a bullet in his body from the last civil war.
Moreover with mission was to bring the crisis rocking northern part of the country to an abrupt end, Nigeria’s former military head of state, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, alongside other notable sons of the northern soil including General Abdulsalami Abubakar and other northern leaders recently when they converged in Minna to chat the way forward for North and Nigeria in particular.
Gen. Babangida, while dropping hints over the concluded meeting noted that they convened with the aim of offering lasting solutions to the innumerable problems beleaguering the region especially in the area of security and economic challenges.
According to him ‘security of lives and property was not only the responsibility of the government but religious, traditional leaders and prominent people.’
With the aforementioned roles being playing by General Babangida in recent years for the sake of the north, we can conclude that the man perhaps is now gearing to salvage the region from its deteriorating state as being said by the predominant people of the region.
During his reign as military president of the Nigerian nation, Babangida was really accused of not favouring the north, as has been mentioned from the beginning of this article. Now that the man Maradona is being witnessed playing new roles in the affairs of the region, can we ask: Is he the Icon of the north? Let’s have responses from well-meaning northern people.