_C. E. Oyibo
I. B. Babangida, a certain retired Nigerian army general who is notorious for having participated in practically every mutiny and coup d'état in the history of the country, and who eventually foisted himself on the Nigerian populace as “President” from August 1985 until August 1993 recently posited, essentially, that the Nigerian youth has neither the aptitude nor capability to run the affairs of the country.
In order to proceed, we must understand Babangida’s frame of reference: he was only 25 years of age when he participated in the July 1966 army mutiny—his foray in the world of military coups—which, from all accounts, consisted chiefly of going door to door of military barracks, massacring officers and soldiers of a particular ethnic extraction. From IBB’s standpoint, then, the Nigerian youth who has failed to demonstrate a modicum of murderous propensity by age 25 is basically an unmitigated loafer and, therefore, incapable of running the affairs of the country.
__And, Babangida, more than anyone else, would know about the systemic destruction of the Nigerian educational system between ’85 and ’93. For there is now little doubt that his systemic de-funding of and general hostility towards the educational sector, his hounding and imprisonment of university student activists and suppression of university faculty and academic staff, were all aimed at dumbing-down the general population so as to enable him easily achieve his nefarious goal of “President”-for-life.
Delving into the putrid details of Babangida’s debasement of the Nigerian society and his devastation of its economy over the course of his eight years as “President” will prove to be less damning an indictment of the man’s state of mind at this juncture than the substance of a recent spat he had with another retired general: one-time head of state and another time president, Olusegun Obasanjo. Suffice it to say the argument between the two was, incredibly, as to who, of the two, is a bigger fool!
That Babangida, Obasanjo, and their generation have failed Nigeria is not in question. What one finds most insufferable today is not that they failed to provide the Nigerian youth with the most basic of opportunities to develop their potentials over the course of the cumulative 16 or so years they ruled the country, nor that they continue to be regular fixtures—increasing senile fixtures, to be sure—on the political landscape. What one finds beyond the pale is that they have now taken as a favorite pastime the meting out of assorted unprovoked verbal assaults upon the Nigerian youth.
But, would one blame a pair of geriatrics for lobbing insults upon us, when we appear to have ceded our citizenship as well as the political space to their generation, and when at the most virile stage of our lives we project the portrait of an emasculated generation?
The Nigerian youth must take Babangida’s assault as a call to sober reflection.