Prior to Wednesday August 17, 2016, some major newspapers had earlier asked those who wanted to celebrate General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB) GCFR, to place advertorials in their respective newspapers. Many Nigerians had expected a bumper harvest of advertorials from those this benevolent gallant senior officer touched their lives positively. He touched the lives of Nigerians in all fields of endeavour, from banking, oil and gas, communication, to academics, maritime, politics, and the military.
I was looking forward to seeing lots of goodwill messages from his primary constituency – the military. No individual retired senior officer in his personal capacity put up any paid advert in any of the Nigerian dailies. I say individual retired senior officer in his personal capacity because General Abdulsalami Alhaji Abubakar GCFR congratulated IBB as a former Head of State. Even Major General Lawrence A Onoja CFR did so in his capacity as the President of Alumni Association of the National Institute (AANI). More interesting was that of the President of the 6th and 7th Senate of Federal Republic of Nigeria, Senator (Dr) David A. B. Mark GCON.
I sat back and reflected on my years as a Major in Dodan Barracks between 1985 – 1987, the number of now retired senior officers that benefitted from the benevolent military president. From service chiefs, to para-military heads, ministers, governors and chief executive officers (CEOs) of federal parastatals. I do not believe all of them are dead – God forbid. The least they could have done was to have rejoiced with their benefactor. One of the strongest and vibrant ex-Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) Cadet Association is the NDA course 3 Association. One had expected that the association would place a congratulatory advertorial for IBB. This is so because IBB appointed more Military governors from NDA Regular 3, than any other Regular course of NDA. More worrisome is the grave-yard silence from the three key players that contributed to his becoming the military president of Nigeria on August 27, 1985. They saw in him, an attribute of a quintessential leader, a visionary commander who inspired respect (not fear) from the junior officers below him. These were some of the factors that made them (the three Majors, then) to collaborate and execute his rise to becoming the commander-in- chief in 1985. That there is a grave-yard silence from these three key actors speaks volume. Is it that General Babangida over the years had ignored and abandoned these three gentlemen who played important key roles in his milipolitical career?.
Incidentally, these three though were military governors as Majors, never got beyond of the rank of Colonels before they left the military service. What has been the relationship between them and IBB? On the under hand, did the three retired Colonels turn their backs on General Babangida. Whatever may be a the case, there should never be sour relationship between them, so that come next year, by God’s grace, Nigerians will witness bumper birthday advertorials by IBB “boys”.
However, it is certain that the security chiefs that served under IBB may not want to take out any birthday advertisement, for obvious reason. They would rather personally visit the former military president in Minna to share the joy of the day with him, that is understood. One interesting thing to note is that more than seventy percent (70%) of those who took out adverts to congratulate IBB were mostly university students when he was in power between 1985 to 1993. As the General looks forward to celebrating many more birthdays ahead, I wish him good health, happiness, and peace on earth and hereafter, Ameen.
— Bako is former military administrator of Akwa Ibom State, he wrote in from Kano