I have Tremendous Affection for IBB & OBJ, But...
By Femi Fani-Kayode Newsdiaryonline
Sun Aug 21,2011
I have the honour and privilege of knowing both of these elder
statesmen and I have tremendous affection for them both. I
served in President Obasanjo's government and I gave him my all.
He in turn gave me the opportunity to serve my country and for
that I am eternally grateful to him.
However we must put sentiment aside when looking at this issue.
Whilst I do not subscribe to the view or accept the notion that
the Obasanjo administration was a failure and that it did not
achieve anything, I do believe that Obasanjo made a grave
mistake and indeed inflicted a deep spiritual wound on himself
by insulting General Ibrahim Babangida in the way that he did.
Calling Babangida a fool at seventy does not help matters and
frankly it befuddles and beclouds the issues.
Obasanjo should have responded to the issues raised by Babangida
with far more restraint and he should not have insulted him. I
am not in the least bit surprised that Babangida responded to
those insults in the way that he did. You do not call me a fool
at 70 the day after my birthday and expect me to keep quiet and
smile, no matter what or who you think you are and no matter
what may have provoked you. Those
that are around Baba today should have told him that. He left
himself wide open for a solid counterpunch and a devastating
right hook there. I have said it before and I will say it again,
you cannot repay good with evil and get away with it for long.
The bible says "He who repays good with evil, evil will never
leave his household". Let me give you two reasons why I am
referring to this scripture in this context. The first reason is
because President Obasanjo would never have become military Head
of State in 1976 had it not been for the fact that Col.
Babangida (as he then was) courageously and single-handedly
disarmed Lt. Col. Dimka and foiled his coup attempt after the
latter and his group had successfully assassinated the then Head
of State, General Murtala Mohammed. Had that coup been
successful Obasanjo would have been shot by Dimka as well and he
would never have gone on to succeed Murtala Mohammed. Had it not
been for Babangida's unflinching
loyalty to the government of the day and his decision to
follow General T.Y. Danjuma's orders to the letter and
courageously confront Dimka at the radio station, disarm him and
crush the coup, Obasanjo would not have been in a position to do
all those wonderful things that he mentioned that he did when he
was military Head of State between 1976 and 1979 because he
would have been shot. That is the first reason that he should be
grateful to Babangida. For the second reason let us fast forward
by 20 years from 1979 to 1999.
Again President Obasanjo has to be eternally grateful to General
Babangida because had it not been for the latter he would not
have been released from jail, pardoned, rehabilitated, funded
and installed as President in 1999. This is an incontrovertible
fact. Obasanjo went on from there to become one of the greatest
Presidents in our history and his record of performance between
1999 and 2007, in my view, is first class and second to none.
The records are there for all to see and the facts speak for
Yet the truth is that Babangida must take some credit for that
too because he was instrumental in making him President in 1999.
When I was in government we had our differences with Babangida
from time to time but he always responded to us with restraint,
dignity, calm and self-respect regardless of our provocations
and our moves against him and his boys. Most important of all he
stood solidly by those boys. The man is a strategist and he
appreciated the fact that patience is a powerful weapon. For
that he won my respect. For me this whole matter goes to the
very character and leadership abilities of these two men. The
truth is that the loyalty and support that an individual gives
to any leader must be reciprocated and any leader worth his salt
knows this. A leader that takes his followers for granted and
takes pleasure in the destruction, humiliation, travails, shame
and political persecution of his own loyalists is not a real
leader but something else.
On the other hand the leader that stands by his loyalists
through thick and thin and that reciprocates the commitment,
love, support, compassion and loyalty that he receives from them
is a true leader. As far as I am concerned that is the
difference between OBJ and IBB. Babangida recognises these
things and is loyal to his own whilst Obasanjo does not. My
prayer is that the rift is settled quickly.
Chief Femi Fani-Kayode was the former spokesperson to President
and was later appointed as Minister of Culture and Tourism; he
as Minister of Aviation for Federal Republic of Nigeria.