IBB At 75: A Reflection on Nigeria’s Phenomenal Leader By Abdulberqy Ebbo

On the eve of his birthday, I was a part of the team of journalists and well-wishers that visited him to interact with him and listen to his reflections on life, the nation and the world at large on adding another age of wisdom. It was an inspiring and exciting moment, being there and acknowledging his impressive modesty and philosophy of life, the society and politics.

Many times in the past decade, rumours of his death were carried in the media. One may think he was psychologically traumatised by such hoaxes. “It is not new,” he said. “They have done it to Zik, Shehu Shagari, and recently to Maitama and other statesmen. It is not new. Whether I like it or not, I will still die. They are only stating the obvious.” And then, as if to highlight the vulnerability of everyone of us, including the publishers of such false reports, he said, “The only thing we do not know about our death is, we don’t know the cause, time or the place.”

This religious disposition resonated in his recollections of the events of his life and experiences, and in this one may see how his late wife, Hajiya Maryam Babangida of blessed memory, created a vacuum in his heart nobody has been able to fill. “Although my children have individually identified ways over the years to fill this vacuum, which I’m thankful for, my wife had a better part of me.” He mainatained.

He praised her religious activities and philanthropy, and identified her role in the empowerment of women, especially through her remarkably effective pet project, Better Life for Rural Women, which empowered women and provided them with opportunities to learn skills and secure means of pursuing various entrepreneurial ventures and interest. There’s no doubt that Mrs Babangida was a First Lady of a class yet to be imitated by any, and it was sincerely for her true identification with, and passion for, the women.

At 75, IBB remains a model for many men in this part of the world. His marital status has been a topic of special interest and curiosity. He was handsome, charismatic, successful and yet that wasn’t an excuse to practise polygamy as his contemporaries. For a generation of youths who grew up with perception of marriage as adding more wife with every success or even failure, IBB is a lesson to embrace. This, perhaps, only highlighted the virtues of his late wife.

Aside from being a legendary figure in Minna, IBB’s mythical status is actually most referenced and discussed outside his place of residence. It’s easy to see why, as former military President of Nigeria, he’s a subject of endless and polarising debates over two decades after leaving office. His legacy in office is understood differently by those who tracked his career and government.

Growing up in Minna, it’s impossible to miss the former President’s impacts on the state capital and beyond. There were a lot of things that prepared my mind to understanding the national and international perspective of the enigma as I came to properly grasp his life and its essence as a military officer, administrator and politician.

One mistake we make in Nigeria is attributing what we perceive as a leader’s failure to him alone without the recognition of those who contributed to what some considered failed, including the critics themselves. Sometimes this error is out of a personal resolve to embarrass, without critically studying the circumstances.

However, the most charming trait of IBB is his treatment of his critics. He embraced them, even though he could antagonise them. He engaged them, even though, as a military leader, his subordinates would’ve easily moved to eliminate such forces.

The most vehement critics of his policies like the nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka, and the foremost journalist-turned-educatinist, Tai Solarin, were appointed to serve in his administration. Soyinka served as Chairman of Federal Road Safety Commission and Solarin was Chairman of The People’s Bank, which was established to provide loans and credit facilities for the poor to start or sustain their businesses.

That visionary thinking was what made IBB different, the fact that he found his critics’ expressed ideals appealing and even gave them a platform to contribute their ideas towards the growth of the nation. Though one may see why he’s blamed for the failings of those he recognised as capable hands to fix the rots of the nation.

As the debate over his stewardship as Nigeria’s most analysed and studied leader continues, here is wishing this phenomenal man Allah’s infinite mercy and benevolence, for Allah is the only impartial Judge of Deeds. Happy Birthday, General!

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Ambode Sacks Fashola’s Sister, 75 Others

Lagos state governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode yesterday hit his predecessor, Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola hard below the belt with the sack of the immediate past governor’s sister, Ms Yinka Fashola as the General Manager of the Lagos State Residents Registration Agency, LASRRA.

Ms Fashola was not the only target of the sack, other family members, friends and associates of the former governor appointed into various agencies and parastatals were equally booted out in an order sacking 76 of them at a go. A statement to that effect yesterday said the governor approved the dissolution of all Boards of Parastatals and Agencies of Government in the State.

“The Governor while stating that the dissolution takes immediate effect, however disclosed that the Civil Service Commission, Judicial Service Commission and the State Independent Electoral Commission are exempted.

“Governor Ambode commended the modest contributions of the members of the dissolved Boards, just as he wished them well in their future endeavours”, the statement added.

Meanwhile, the Governor has also approved the appointment of Mrs. Abimbola Shukrat Umar as the new Accountant General of the State. Mrs. Umar, prior to her new appointment, was the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

A holder of the degree of Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Economics (1983) from the University of Ibadan and Master of Science in Corporate Governance (2013) from Leeds Metropolitan University, Leeds United Kingdom, Mrs Umar is also a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria and Nigeria Economic Society.

She also cut her teeth for over 15 years in the private sector, particularly with the renowned KPMG International before joining the Lagos State Civil Service as Chief Accountant in 2002. Her appointment, according to the statement, takes effect immediately.

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75 North-west Reps-elect Support Gbajabiamila, Says Chanchangi

About 75 members-elect of the 8th House of Representatives are in support of Minority Leader of the House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila as the next speaker, Rep Ahmed Rufai Chanchangi has said.

Speaking to newsmen in Abuja, Chanchangi (APC, Kaduna) said they were convinced that Gbajabiamila has all it takes to lead the House having led the opposition party for the past eight years without any blemish.

“I think, to me and to the returning members of the House, there is no conflict at all. The only person in the race is Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila. Apart from him I can’t see anybody in the race because when you are talking about someone being in the race, the first thing to be taken into consideration is your home support base.

“So, for me the only person that is contesting is Hon Femi. I am from the North-West, we have almost 90 members from the North-West. Kaduna State in particular we have 16, from Kano we have 24, Katsina we have 15, Jigawa we have 11 and in Sokoto we have 12 members respectively,” he said

“What we have is almost one-quarter of the total honourable members of the House. And if you take a look at that statistics, from the 90 honourable members, about 75 to 80 are hundred percent with Femi Gbajabiamila and this is not because of party affiliation but because of what he did.”

He said there was no way that they would turn their back after all that he did for them including spearheading the emergence of Speaker Aminu Waziri Tambuwal as the number one presiding officer of the House.

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Speakership: Jibrin Promises Fresh Members 75% Committee Chairmanship Positions

As the June inauguration date of the House of Representatives 8th Assembly draws close, the chairman of the House Committee on Finance and speakership aspirant, Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin, has written first term members, promising them 75 per cent of committee chairmanship and deputy positions if elected speaker.

It means 75 per cent of the positions allocated to each state will go to first term members, Jibrin promised.

He added that, “To do this, I will have to step on toes. But if this will usher in the change and fresh ideas we crave for our dear country, so be it!”

Jibrin, in the letter said his speakership agenda include zero tolerance for corruption; transparency in legislative business; increase productivity and capacity building, continuity in legislative business and a special attention to first term members.

“I have carefully observed that all other Aspirants have shown little attention to this new group of dynamic in coming members.

“A key way to deepen the change is to effectively integrate you into the activities of the house, share experience with you, discuss your welfare as most of you are coming in with family and need to quickly settle down to the task ahead but most importantly put you in position of authority to bring in your fresh ideas and expertise in running the activities of the House.”Jibrin stated in the letter.

He reminded first term members of their numerical strenght and advised them to exploit to their benefit.

“You have the numerical strength. Do not waste it. You have what it takes to decide the kind of leadership we should have in the 8th Assembly. Do not allow yourselves to be relegated to the background. Do not allow yourselves to be used only as numbers to be counted in votes for Aspirants that do not appreciate your individual potentials and your fresh ideas. I urge you to unite and take charge! We are all equals!

“In me, Hon Abdulmumin Jibrin you have an ally that will lead the 8th Assembly and usher in a new dispensation of change. I will not be the Speaker of South South, East or West neither will I be the Speaker of North Central, East or West but your Speaker, The Speaker of House of Representatives of Nigeria!” he said.


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