Consequent upon the annulment of the June 12, 1993, presidential election, obviously won by the late Alhaji M.K.O. Abiola, Nigeria headed for the precipice. It took the fleeting emergence of Chief Ernest Shonekan for some fragile stability and graveyard peace to be achieved.
Shortly thereafter, the late Gen. Sani Abacha came on the scene by dismissing the interim government headed by Chief Shonekan through a coup. The bespectacled General clamped a lot of people into jail and routinely made the prison yards nationwide the habitation of real and imaginary ‘troublemakers’, particularly the advocates for the restoration of democracy to Nigeria on the vociferous and popular NADECO platform.
On the heels of the revalidation of democracy by General Abdulsalami Abubakar, who assumed leadership following Abacha’s death, it took massive persuasion to get Olusegun Obasanjo to return to power as a civilian head of state. One of the dignitaries that visited the Ota farm settlement of Obasanjo immediately after his release from incarceration was former head of state, General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida (IBB), GCFR. The mission was to encourage OBJ to accept the responsibility circumstance had thrust on him with Abiola’s controversial transition.
That trip was long before OBJ eventually became the country’s president and began to drive rough thereafter, forgetting where he was coming from, God’s intervention in his rescue from Abacha’s gulag and his antecedents generally. Astonishingly, almost all the people who played key roles in the enthronement of OBJ as Nigeria’s president gradually became his targets for witch-hunt, assault and needless embarrassment. It must be underscored that OBJ is a very amnesic, vindictive and pretentious human being—all traits resoundingly confirmed by events before, during and even after his wasted eight-year presidency!
While in office, OBJ established the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFFC) with its first chairman as Alhaji Nuhu Ribadu. At the outset of this laudable agency there were dispassionate efforts at rooting out corruption and other criminalities from this clime. Along the line, the agency derailed and became OBJ’s instrument for humiliation, intimidation, oppression, subjugation, suppression and witch-hunt of all manner of ‘enemies’ and their perceived friends.
So, without recollecting the roles IBB and former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, among others, played pursuant to his disastrous presidency in terms of political strategy and moral backing, he covertly unleashed the EFCC on them, including the APC National Leader Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Ribadu graciously confirmed this at the presentation of a book in honour of Abiola by Dr. Tunji Dare not long ago and further made a testament to futile pressures on him to criminalise Tinubu at all costs!
The relationship between IBB, Mike Adenuga and OBJ informed this essay in the light of IBB’s congratulatory message to Adenuga on his diamond anniversary on April 29, 2013, as published in major Nigerian newspapers, including The Sun, naturally (extracts below).
Shortly before the end of his tenure as third-time president of this country, OBJ reopened the missing $2.8 billion Gulf War accruals (windfall) and declared that all those involved in the looting of the money will be tried in obvious reference to IBB whose government was in power when the incident happened. In fact, there were talks that IBB may be arrested to explain the alleged misappropriation! That never happened apparently because of the backlash such jaundiced inquisition will elicit.
The next victim of OBJ was the chairman and principal owner of Globacom, Otunba Mike Adenuga, Jr. (GCON). As usual, the EFFC was let loose on ‘Mr. Glo.’ What were his offences? His enduring friendship with IBB and parleying with Atiku instead of supporting his clownish third-term fiasco! Not surprisingly, the EFFC furiously went after Adenuga.
What were the additional charges? ‘The Bull’ was allegedly fronting for IBB in the ownership of Globacom! When that script was torn to shreds, the EFCC and its principal (OBJ) could not understand why and how ‘The Guru’ should be the core stakeholder in the multi-billion telecoms project (forgetting that he is one of the world’s 258 richest men, according to Forbes magazine). So, the next thing was to get to the root of the suspicions through the invasion of Adenuga’s home and offices on Victoria Island in a Gestapo way in search of implicative documents, unsuccessfully.
At a point in the ensuing drama, the EFCC made a volte-face and said it was IBB’s son, Muhammed, who held his father’s purported equity in Globacom! The victimisation got to a point that when Adenuga travelled to Paris (which is routine) during the EFCC siege, the combative agency issued a vitriolic statement that he had fled the country to foreclose arrest and the misinformation spread like a hurricane and people were calling me to find out the truth and the multi-billionaire’s whereabouts as a corporate affairs strategist in one of his companies then! Overall, the EFCC brouhaha ended in a fiasco as there was no iota of truth in its principal’s weird imagination and despotic machination.
The point must be noted that Adenuga was vindicated at the end of the day. It took the courageous, unquestionable, unimpeachable and trustworthy intervention and royal guarantee of Kabiyesi Alaiyeoluwa, Oba (Dr.) S. K. Adetona, CFR., when Adenuga returned from France shortly after the unwarranted invasion of his person and institutions to broker a final resolution and emancipation of ‘Mr. Glo’ from the unnecessarily vindictive and jealous clutches of OBJ when he was in power for the last time! Never again!
Now the vintage message from IBB to Dr. Mike Adenuga, Jnr., GCON, on his 60th Birthday, which, I am sure, most people did not flag! It is instructive and partly goes thus: “…The fact that you treasure the virtue of true friendship and loyalty to any cause you believe in gives you the cutting edge. I am eternally grateful for all the troubles you had to go through because of me in the hands of a regime that tried to derail our friendship and relationship.
“Even when you came under severe pressure by that same regime which I helped to nurture (emphasis mine), to blackmail me in order to hang me, you remained eternally loyal and steadfast. Only a businessman of character, sound upbringing and virtue could choose friendship instead of his economic empire.
Only a man of delectable poise, with an open mind and fear of God, would choose to sustain an age-long relationship instead of sacrificing same at the altar of avarice, greed and economic interest. “Such tribulations are prices we have to pay for true friendship…I remain grateful for being a true friend indeed.”
The foregoing extracts speak volumes of the uncanny character of the Ota farmer! Who can name the symbol of devilishness for me? I already have an exemplar in the person of…as if you didn’t know! Do I need to add that the instructive anniversary message from IBB for The Bull—and to the bully from Ota—made my day? I read it voraciously and internalised the import of it all.
I implore those who did not read it to get a copy (as published by most national newspapers on April 29, 2013) and digest it for personal edification generally and especially for its moral component.
My only grouse about the IBB message is that it was not declarative enough—it sounded like that of a lachrymose General. Not the tough and unambiguous IBB that we know! Nevertheless, the point was not lost. And remains evergreen, hence this candid reflection