A TMV Editorial
Most successful nations have a period in their history when either their citizens or leaders overcame personalities or cultural mores which had impaired their progress. Only after transcending their impediments to success were the nations able to attain and maintain international prominence. Such a time is long overdue for Nigeria and a major barrier it must trample is Ibrahim Babangida, the Genocide General.
While considering a title for this article, this phrase–Baban Kisa–meaning the father of murder in Hausa language–was considered because it properly defined Babangida and because it is eerily similar to his name. However, Genocide General prevailed over Baban Kisa because the non Hausa speaking world would not recognize it. Needless to say, either of the names appropriately describe this former Nigerian dictator since his activities, past and present, continue to claim lives.
Before delving into the reasons why Babangida is the Genocide General, here is some background information on this very adversely consequential Nigerian. After deposing General Buhari in an internal power struggle on August 27, 1985, Babangida quickly began dipping his hands into Nigeria’s treasury, showing himself to be commander and thief rather than commander in chief. Babangida also became the chief of mischief, using government funds to buy and reward favors, while punishing individuals or regions he deemed hostile to his agenda.
Among the regions he targeted for sanctions was Plateau State because of its strength and Christian influence in the Middle Belt and Northern Nigeria. The primary measure he took to undermine Plateau State was dividing Jos (the capital) into north and south counties. This enactment provided a mechanism for the Hausa guests to aspire for an emirate in a Christian tribal territory. As Plateau natives vehemently opposed this plan, it triggered a political crisis which graduated into the armed conflict that began on September 7th 2001. Sadly, Jos and other parts of Plateau State are still under military occupation because of the evil that was sowed by Babangida over twenty years ago.
Besides sowing the seeds of turmoil in Plateau State, Babangida also laid the foundation upon which the modern Hausa Islamic insurgency stands. First, he inducted Nigeria into the Organization for the Islamic Conference (OIC), dividing Hausa loyalty between Nigerian citizenship and OIC membership. The repercussions of Nigeria’s OIC membership must not be under-appreciated since it created a Hausa Middle Eastern alliance which bolstered jihadism by providing resources from global Islamic Institutions. Moreover, it declared Nigeria a Muslim nation, though Christians, tribal worshipers and agnostics are the silent majority.
Sadly, Babangida’s damage to Nigeria did not end when he was chased out of office after his bid to succeed himself as a civilian president failed. When his successor, General Abacha was later “prayed to death” and out of power by the desperate fasting and prayer of poor Nigerians, Babangida quickly used his old influence to ensure that power was handed to a fellow Islamist, General Abubakar.
To understand the significance of Babangida’s intervention, General Abubakar used his brief period in office to create a provision that would allow for sharia law in the North when he oversaw the revision Nigeria’s constitution. This calamity made it possible for proceeding Hausa politicians to enact sharia, turning Nigeria into an ungovernable nation of two laws. Moreover it provided a platform for Hausa jihadists like Boko Haram who now kill for the purpose of defending and expanding sharia law.
If the consequences of Babangida’s past activities are the only things ailing Nigeria today, the situation would not be as dire. Documents surfacing are revealing that the general is actively involved in the ongoing Hausa Islamic insurgency. As he is involved in this deadly campaign whose aim is to drive out southerners from the north and to deplete the collective small tribes of the Middle Belt, Babangida is rightfully the Genocide General.
As we prepare to release our findings on Babangida’s current activities in Nigeria, here is an important submission: Even if Babangida’s hands have been clean since his departure from office, Nigerians cannot afford to have a known criminal like him freely walking and enjoying ill gained wealth and power with impunity. Thus Babangida must be hauled before the courts to account for his looting of the Nigerian treasury and for the murder of many, including military officers like General Manman Vatsa during his rule. Nigeria will not progress until it is willing to take such measure.