By Dele Sobowale
Forgiveness to the injured does belong; for they ne’er pardon who have done the wrong.” John Dryden, 1631-1700. VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS.
The first part of this two-part series ended rather abruptly. But, I hope that readers can still join the pieces and make a narrative out of it. Let me quickly summarise the last point made last week. First, Ambode, despite all outward appearances, was not totally isolated. He like other leaders – Presidents and Governors – had his own Kitchen Cabinet and perhaps the more powerful Bedroom Cabinet. Bedroom Cabinet had been described on these pages as those who can arrive at the Governor’s Mansion or Office and without filling any form and without delay walk straight to the Ogapatapata. Top on the list is the owner of “the Other room”. Others might include mother, father, brothers and sisters. They have access 24/7 and they influence decisions, if they are allowed 24/7. Because they have a vital stake in the outcome of this war, they will line up behind the embattled former Governor. You can bet on that.
Second, it is an axiom among close groups with deep secrets to keep that every measure must be taken not to provoke a former insider who knows too much. As a former Accountant General and Governor in the state, the man has had access to some hidden secrets which it would not be in the interest of a lot of top party leaders if they were divulged.
When working on my book, PDP: CORRUPTION INCORPORATED, I had asked a former Alliance for Democracy, AD, Governor, who had helped me with some funds if AD Governors were all clean. His answer was instructive. “No Nigerian President or Governor, if he is thoroughly investigated, will escape punitive sanction. Some are just more blatant than others.” If that statement is true, at least two important people are directly at risk if this palaver continues much longer. It is in their interest to get involved and start the mediation process which will avert the opening of a can of foul smelling worms.
At this point, readers might be wondering why the urge to put a lid on this ugly incident. The matter is simple. Lagos State has unfortunately become, at least for now, a one-party state. The major opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has virtually disintegrated. At any rate, none of its leaders can be relied upon to govern Lagos State better than the Progressives have done. Destroying the Lagos APC now will create a major political leadership vacuum which cannot be filled immediately. For, the state and the Eko Heritage Group spoiling for war, a victory, if attained might be pyrrhic in nature.
“Truth that’s told with bad intent/ Beats all the lies you can invent.”
William Blake, 1757-1827
Am I then arguing that there should be no probe of the Ambode administration? The answer is “Yes and No”. Yes, if we are also ready to start from 1999. After all, to the best of my knowledge, there is no statute of limitation on when a government can be investigated. In France and Israel, former Presidents have been tried more than 20 years after leaving office. No, if the exercise is going to be limited to 2015 – 2019. That will be discriminatory and it is obviously not intended to instil good behaviour in Governors. At any rate, unless a great deal of pressure is brought to bear on him, Ambode will not go down alone. Like the Biblical Samson, he will bring the roof down on everybody.
The matter is complicated by the fact that “substantiation” of the allegations made by the EHG were largely provided by APC members in the state House of Assembly. Had they been made by the PDP, the party and many members of the public might have dismissed them as part of dirty politics played in Nigeria. But, these are APC members literally accusing a former APC Governor of corruption.
Most Nigerians would recollect the National Leader of the party in August last year proclaiming that “Ambode had done well”. Vice President Yemi Osinbajo asked Nigerians to “vote for APC because we are not corrupt”. President Buhari came to Lagos to commission Ambode projects just before the elections and lavished encomiums on the former Governor. Were all these false testimonials? And what should Nigerians make of leaders who mislead them if the allegations turn out to be true?
It is for this reason that the leaders of Lagos APC and nationally must step in and settle this matter before it gets out of hand and consumes a lot of people.
A word is sufficient. If they don’t, I wait here, my “pen” ready like an AK-47 ready to fire. I hope it won’t come to that – for the sake of Lagos State.
LAST LINE. Every statement made above has taken into account that Ambode has remained silent despite the deluge of accusations against him. Because nobody should be judged without giving him a chance to state his own case, I presume he can defend himself. As an old adage told us “no matter how thin you slice the bread, there are still two sides to it.” I am waiting to hear the other side.
DESPITE JUNE 12 BABANGIDA WAS OUR GREATEST LAWGIVER IN THE LAST CENTURY – 3
“It was a display of courage. You can relate what he did at the NBC [Radio Lagos at the time] to what he did at the war front when he single-handedly evacuated Duba who was shot under heavy enemy fire.”
Major-General Mohammed Magoro.
“It was brave action. He is brave and fearless. It takes a lot of courage for one to go and face people who are armed, more so for someone who was listed among those to be killed. Babangida was one of those listed to be killed in that coup.”
Major-General Gado Nasko.
The two tributes were taken from my new book, IBRAHIM B BABANGIDA 1985-1992: LETTING A THOUSAND FLOWERS BLOOM.
One of more amusing aspects of writing that book was the sharp contrast which the attempted coup by Colonel Dimka presented between two of our former military Heads of State – General Olusegun Obasanjo and General Ibrahim Babangida. When the news of the assassination of General Murtala Mohammed spread through Lagos, Obasanjo, as Chief of General Staff, CGF, and second in command, allegedly removed his uniform and went into hiding. A search party had to be organised for him to come and take charge.
Meanwhile, Babangida was ordered to go to Radio House where Dimka was still broadcasting to the nation and blow up the place. He went. Instead of blowing up Dimka and innocent civilians who were in the building with Dimka, he went into the building unarmed and confronted his former friend who was already drunk and wielding a pistol. The building stands till today. Babangida is still alive. His courage foiled the coup.
But, that was the second time he had put his own life on the line for our country. At least these can be said about IBB; he was not a pepper-soup joint and beer parlour General. He was a brave combatant who placed his life on the line when he saved Duba who later became a Chief of Army Staff. He repeated it when he confronted Dimka and saved Nigeria from unknown bloodshed. No other General in Nigerian history had done anything like that. Courage has always been the rarest of human attributes. As history has revealed, wearing an army uniform does not by itself connote bravery. That was aptly demonstrated by Obasanjo allegedly taking flight instead of standing and fighting to foil the coup. At any rate, at the time our first military officers enrolled in the army, war was a distant possibility. The Civil War was the acid test and we know the heroes. IBB was definitely one of them.
Despite these encomiums, the book, IBRAHIM BABANGIDA 1985-1992: LETTING A THOUSAND FLOWERS BLOOM. is not a PR job for Babangida who I never met until over fifty (50) pages of the book had been compiled. Even after we met, he was never interviewed or asked to explain anything.
This was going to be a honest inquiry into how Nigeria was governed from 1985 to 1992. The book deliberately terminated in 1992 in order to remove the emotions attached to June 12 – which had made most people in the country forget that the government did other things apart from organising elections. Even for one of IBB’s severest critics in those years, the excursion into our past was an eye opener. It revealed how little we are aware of what is going on around us.
Limited quantities of the book are now available for sale,
PROMOTING READING CULTURE
Copies of IBRAHIM BABANGIDA 1985-1992: LETTING A THOUSAND FLOWERS BLOOM will soon be sent to ALL Nigerian universities free of charge. They join Obong Victor Attah’s books RESOURCE CONTROL and IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL – which had been given to the universities free. In addition, Attah’s books as well as my own VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS and PDP: CORRUPTION INCORPORATED are now available on-line for reading. Babangida’s book will soon join them. Henceforth, you can read our books anytime, anywhere, anyhow, on the go and for less than the price of groundnuts or even a newspaper.
Contact us on: www.delesobowale.com