He comes in guile, street sophistry and mercurial intensity. He snoozes with mother luck as companion and keeps suavity and charm as sweet sakes. He hit the star waves in uncommon terms through sheer unique portraits of instinctive adroitness and transgressive commitment to style. He is Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, an unmistaken General of the Nigerian Army and hearts, who ruled the country with feisty and evasive strong arms between 1985 and 1993.
In conventional terms, a godfather which many are wont to ascribe to him is a male godparent, a mentor. In crime, he is the Boss. In ancient Sicilian culture, he was expected to help in the upbringing of the baptized child, almost like a third parent. Twice in the just ended week, he rocked the nation with throbs of his weight behind the fledgling Social Democratic Party, SDP led by Olu Falae who was on stage with him while in power as Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF. It ricocheted and thudded with thunderous rebound.
The Godfather. Hot on its heels, he reminisced on the evergreen annulment of the June 12, 1993 Presidential Election, presumably won by the late MKO Abiola, an event and topic stuck in his throat and which he rarely touches. The Boss. In the world of the Godfather, he never loses control or gets angry. If a bolt of lightning hits his friend, he will take it personal. In Mario Puzo’s The Godfather Trilogy, the dandy ex- military ruler approximates essential strains in standards and service. So when Vito Corleone bragged that “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse” or “Never tell anybody outside the family what you’re thinking again”, it falls perfectly into his sartorial ambience and eschatological worldview.
In and out of power, he has lived with the sobriquet of ‘Maradona”, the Argentine super football maestro renowned for his prodigious dribbling skills. Elsewhere, his exploits have been likened to Nicholo Machiavelli’s The Prince, an extended treatise on how to acquire and maintain political power. In both interfaces at the turn of the week, IBB rang with the frightening sonority of recognizing in quick breath the presence of a few caterpillars in order to be acquainted with the butterflies.
He chewed out Machiavelli’s honoured words that “To understand the nature of the people, one must be a prince and to understand the nature of the prince, one must be of the people.” As Prince of power, he bends the force of his arguments, renews his spirit of enchantments. He swims in a tide perfectly made for his bubbles. In real times, he haunts the tempest and laughs at the gunman.
He can feel the exhilaration of prince hood and the sensual warmth and beauty that go with acclaim. He is hardy, inured with the times, toughened by the sprawling conditions of socio-political scatology. His sinuses are of great dimensions. He feels with the heart and has faithfulness in the little things. And he dotes on this space, ever since he “stepped aside”. Princes do have complexes – at times blunt, rude, and strong- at times good, enduring, understanding- and sometimes even stupid. As a real man, he only lies when he wants to pull a surprise. As a macho man, he wakes up to his ideals, whether noble or ignoble.
As a strong man, he protects the heart, he doesn’t play with it. It takes a real man to stay put, to give up one night stand for a ‘woman he can’t stand one night without’. His vote for SDP and his heady retreat into June 12 election fiasco are deep mementoes of a searing future of hope. Real men can’t be stolen. Strong men stay faithful. The real power of a man is in the size and shape of his commitments. Space is the place and he does not need to be one to be another, because a man has to have a code, a creed to live by, no matter his job, beliefs or instincts.
Born on August 17, 1941 in Minna, Niger state, he was a key player in most of the military coups in Nigeria. Until last week when he expressed interest for the SDP, he was a member of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. His wife, Maryam, with whom he had four children died in 2009.