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Why I am not a Babangida man, by Ayo Opadokun

*He won’t receive my support

By Jide Ajani, Deputy Editor

Ayo Opadokun was Secretary General of the pan Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere.  Thought to be a supporter of Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, Opadokun explodes in this interview, debunking claims linking him in any way with the former military president. Excerpts:

General Ibrahim Babangida has been making statements lately about leadership in Nigeria. How do you see those statements of his?
When people who have been in power start running commentaries on ideals which they did not do when they were in office, you should start asking yourself what is the purport of their new argument.  I see IBB’s new posturing as an evil design to cajole the unsuspecting members of the public to imagine that perhaps he has something to offer. If a man had presided over the affairs of this nation for eight years and the resultant consequence is that he brought the Nigerian nation low, he corrupted every public institutions in the country, perverted all our value systems, so much that there is no ethos we as a nation can hold on to.  He, principally, is responsible for the underdevelopment of Nigeria today.  He brought SAP and used it to undermine the economic situation of Nigeria.  When he took over, it was N3 to $1 and by the time he was leaving it had become between N80 or N90 to $1.

You are believed to be one of Babangida’s men.  In fact, you are seen as one of those who would make his re-entry smooth?
I totally reject any ideas suggested by anybody, from wherever it is from whichever rank who wants to say I, Ayo Opadokun, has been or is a Babangida man, I reject it.  I have never been a Babangida man.  There is nothing that connects me with General Babangida.  I think some mischief makers are in the habit of lumping everybody on the street together.  I am not a chorus boy.  We have never had any interaction, really.  At functions, we might meet but other than that we have never had any reason to relate.

Sorry-O!  The basis of my being here for this interview is premised on the understanding in some quarters that you are an IBB

(cuts in) Which quarters, who is this person lumping me?  Who are the people saying so?  Mention.

There was a time it was said that your expulsion from Afenifere …
(cuts in) No! I was not expelled; I was told to step aside as Secretary General of Afenifere but I eventually resigned.

But there was a time when you were said to have helped Babangida prepare a position paper….?
(cuts in again)  Foolish talk; I never did any such thing.

It sounds strange because the basis of my coming here was….?
(cuts in) And I say it is foolish talk.  I never have.  I’m not one of them on the street there.

Okay, on a neutral basis.  Since you’re not a Babangida man…?
No, I am not.
At a time like this, don’t you thin k Nigeria needs a leader that is tested and one that can be firm?  He’s talking about effective leadership?  Don’t you agree with him on that?
I do not agree with him at all.  Let me repeat that the argument that he is trying to make has been completely punctured and deflated by the emergence of Olusegun Obasanjo and the way he ran Nigeria down for eight years as a civilian ruler.  When Obasanjo handed over in 1979, Obasanjo became an instant hero; became a member of the Eminent Persons Group of the Commonwealth.

We know the state department assisted him with his Africa Leadership Forum at Otta on account of that and people thought that if a man had been so sentenced to prison and was already serving up to three years, before Abacha died, that if such a person were to emerge, he would be so humble to serve the nation but he was a disaster.  Power, education, what did we get? UNESCO said 26% would be appropriate for education but Obasanjo was still arguing as to whether it should be between 1 and 3%. Healthcare?  So what would anybody tell us now.

This same Babangida and the current National Security Adviser, NSA, Aliyu Gusau Mohammed, brought Obasanjo in 1998/’99.  We are yet to recover from IBB’s eight years.  Look at all those fanciful projects, Peoples Bank, MAMSER, DFRRI, where are they today?

To crown it all, he annulled June 12, 1993 presidential elections.  If Babangida were a civilian leader, he would have done two terms.

Look at the way he made politicians go on a wild goose chase.  I was Director of Organisation for the Peoples Solidarity Party, PSP, we came first; people donated things to us believing that a new beginning was coming.  Meanwhile he knew what he wanted and ended up with his two parastatals.  The same person now wants to utilize the political arena.  He will not receive my support.


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