|Seyi Oduyela||Monday, September 6, 2004|
Hyattsville, MD, USA
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OWNERS OF NIGERIA (III)
n October 1986, on a Sunday two things happened to Africa and one particularly affected Nigeria. Samora Machel of Mozambique died in a plane crash, Dele Giwa, the founding Editor-in-Chief of Newswatch Magazine was killed through a letter bomb. It was a shock to us all; a new dimension into killing in the history of Nigeria was launched. Sadly no one has been named officially for the killing. The reason is clear, we all know it. That the government killed Dele Giwa. Which government? What do we mean by government? Not you, not me. We know that Nigerian government does not involve us the masses, the government is personified in the leader, so when we say government, we mean, Badamasi Babangida. Will Florence Ita-Giwa serve under Babangida if he becomes Nigerian President?
This is so crystal clear. No individual in Nigeria had access to what was used to kill Dele Giwa except the military. Giwa had received a call from Halilu Akilu that morning to confirm if he was in. we do not know why he was killed, but the rumour is that he had information on Gloria Okon. Gloria Okon was arrested by the Buhari/Idiagbon government for drug trafficking, she was detained. And few days later, the news came that she had died in detention of food poison. Who killed Gloria? We were waiting for that when Buhari was toppled. Well some people benefited from the death of Dele Giwa, the chairman of the board of director of the magazine, chief Alex Akinyele became a minister under Babangida. It was said that dele Giwa had information on what actually happened to Gloria Okon.
We do not know if this was the reason. Someone also died around that time, Dan Archibong, Military Governor of Cross River State under Babangida. It was reported that he died in a car accident on his way back to Cross River. He was in Lagos on the invitation of the Military President Babangida. But we did not see the car that killed Archibong, was he driving alone at the time of the accident? Was it a collision of two cars? A governor under the military as we know travel with escorts, but what happened to Archibong? He got killed on the Gloria Okon-related issue.
Odeleke, husband of Bola Odeleke the woman Bishop, until his death was a Colonel in the Nigerian Army. He was in Abuja to attend a meeting summoned by President Babangida, what we later heard was that, while on short break, Odeleke was killed by a hit-and-run car in Abuja, in day light! The hit-and-run driver was not arrested. But where did this happen? Who was there to know it was a hit-and-run driver. Someone must have been watching to see it happen, but who was this 3rd eye? Why was his funeral rushed? They didn't even wait for his wife to see his remains before burial. Why the rush? They didn't want them to see that he was shot and not knocked down by a car. Just as Archibong was killed and arranged like an accident.
While the killings go on, the military government of Babangida opened the way for Advanced Fee Fraud. He started the Finance Houses; fraudsters to swindle used this. Forum Group was one, Ade Bendel, Fred Ajudua, late Maurice Ibekwe and others.
On education, Jubril Aminu was made the Education Minister and we had 6-3-3-4 from the government, we also had nomadic education. According to the 6-3-3-4 policy, we have 6 years of elementary education, first 3 years of junior high school, second 3 years of senior high school and the last 4 years for university education. No mention of Polytechnic or College of Education.
You spend more than four years in Polytechnic, first two years for Ordinary Diploma, and you might decide not to go back for your Higher National Diploma, the College of Education has three year for Nigeria Certificate in Education (NCE). At that time, Teacher Training College education was scrapped. Surprisingly, the scrapping took place in the South it did not affect the north. I did my National Youth Service (NYSC) in Borno State, Buba Marwa, then a Lt. Col. Was the Governor of Borno State (1990-1991).
In the north then, after the first three years in high school, students are transferred to Teachers College to complete their last three years in High school; they also have Senior Science secondary School, something that does not exist in the south. Though their Instructional Laboratories were well equipped, there were no teachers to teach. They buy uniform for their students, feed them, and even give them transport fare to go home and come back to school. It was a ploy to slow down our education in the south. The 6-3-3-4 was just a ruse; it has not showed any meaningful impact on the social-economic development of Nigeria, because it was not meant for that, neither did the nomadic education made the northern nomads educated. I taught JSS I-III Christian Religious Knowledge, SS I-II English Language and Economics and the SS III Literature in English, this I did with BA (hons) religious studies. My friend and roommate, a graduate of Biochemistry from the University of Ilorin, now a Medical Doctor, taught Chemistry, Biology and Mathematics. We were not given any extra allowance for all these. We lived on our 350 naira/month allowance. It was at Government Girls Secondary School, Gajiganna, Borno State. The village had no electricity, we lived on generator for 6 hours daily, from 6pm-12am. It is on Baga road, few miles away from Lake Chad. Funny enough that is where the NNPC depot is located and it is just about 1 hour from late general Sani Abacha's village.
In 1987, Chief Obafemi Awolowo died. It was a shock to Nigerians, not because the death was untimely, not because he died at a tender age, but we were not expecting that the man would die so soon even at his age. He was seen dead on the floor in his bathroom. What could kill Baba Awolowo? They said cardiac arrest. Is this true? The rumour then was that Pa Awolowo committed suicide after he was confronted by IBB on some findings. Let us say this is true, (which can never be anyway), what could have been the issue that Chief Awolowo would have to take his life for? The life he did not take during the treasonable felony trial. If he did not commit suicide, what killed him? It is known that one of his last visits was to Dodan Barracks, the landlord of Dodan Barracks entertained him. Did he drink tea like MKO Abiola?
It was Babangida who created the concept of NEW BREED Politicians. New breed politicians with the backings of Old Politicians. The late Musa Yar'Adua, Bola Ige, Adamu Ciroma, and others were banned. Yar'Adua saw something in Atiku Abubakar, and asked him to resign from the Customs to join politics. Atiku left Customs in 1991 or thereabout to become a new breed politician. Babangida asked the politicians to form political associations, they did, but he eventually gave them NRC & SDP. He wrote the constitution and provided money for them to run the parties. Our politicians without any iota of principle jumped at it, since all they wanted was power, they do not care how they get it. They organised primary elections, surprisingly Yar'Adua won in the West beating Falae. This feat was achieved with the help of the amala and gbegiri politician, Lamidi Adedibu. Babangida annulled it, banned them, and MKO Abiola came on the scene. Before this time, MKO Abiola never saw anything wrong in Babangida's goal post shifting, he was IBB's spokesman, appealing to Nigerians to bear with IBB and support him. I save the rest on Abiola till when I get there. I never believed Abiola will rule Nigeria. I had told my friends in 1993, they didn't believe me, we fought over this and I think they owe me apology now.
On May 30 1989, we Nigerian University students embarked on what was called SAP riot, but it was a peaceful demonstration to liberate ourselves from perpetual economic slavery of Babangida and his colonial masters. The then Gbenga Olawepo (NANS PRO) and a student of University of Lagos, was in South Korea to represent Nigerian Students at a world conference. Babangida had sent his SSS as Nigerian students, but the then Olawepo went and presented the true situation of Nigeria at the conference. We all saluted his courage then. This was embarrassing to Babangida, who declared Olawepo wanted, at that time Gbenga Komolafe, Student Union Speaker of University of Ibadan was also wanted. Olawepo was eventually arrested when he came back to the country; Komolafe too was arrested at Dugbe in Ibadan. Both were first detained at Shangisa, but got transferred to Kirikiri when they caught their middleman who went to deliver message to Mr. Femi Falana. The SSS man was arrested and sent to another jail, we don't where and what happened to him till date. These guys were in detention for 6 months or more than that. At this time, 6 Universities were shut by Babangida for their involvement in the Anti-SAP demonstration. The Universities were not opened untill November 1989 from May 30. This actually marked the beginning of irregular academic calendar in our Universities, and it also greatly affected the exchange programme with foreign universities, many professors left our universities and things have not been the same since then.
After their release, they came to UI and we drove them round the campus in a Coaster bus, I remember, it was at night. Unfortunately, now it was a waste. We have lost Gbenga Olawepo. He is not dead, but politically he is gone. I almost cried the day I saw Olawepo on the NTA Tuesday live defending PDP and Obasanjo's government. At first, I didn't believe it was the same Gbenga I had listened to at rallies in the 80s, passionately talking about our beloved country, Nigeria, can now align with the same people who jailed, maimed and totured him. This is a crazy world. Bode Ojomu has also become a government contractor and a PDP member. Ojomu had been involved in student union activism from his days at the Oyo State College of Arts and Sciences (OSCAS). Then Gbenga Komolafe was the President and Bode was the Speaker, but when they got to UI, they both changed position. I will dwell more on this when I get to "Repositioning Student movement." On this, I intend to trace the origin of the present crisis rocking the student movement in Nigeria and make some suggestions. I could not believe my eyes the day I saw Bode Ojomu at the Defence Headquarters in Abuja. This was in 2000, he was there as a contractor and later discovered that he is a card-carrying member of PDP. I still salute Adewale Bashar and Gbenga Komolafe who stood firm on their ideology and did not falter. Today, like the Apostle Paul, Gbenga Olawepo a former anti-Babangida is now Pro-Babangida. This is a tragedy!
It is very sad to see him thrown out of PDP in a disgraceful manner. Obasanjo, using Atiku as a smoke screen expelled him from PDP. Olawepo, late Harry Marshal and Emmanuel Ibeshi were pro-Obasanjo elements in PDP, but a plot was hatched by Atiku and with Obasanjo's approval, they were expelled without regard to court's restraining order. We shall talk more on their expulsion under Atiku in part V.
In 1990 April 20, we woke up to another Marshal song, it was a revolution, not a coup. Contrary to general opinion, it succeeded, but they were not able to seize power. I said it succeeded because we all got the message of the proponents of this revolution. For the second time, we failed to yield to the wake-up call. The first time was in 1967 when Odumegwu Ojukwu started the revolution, it was termed civil war, and Obasanjo is now claiming the glory of ending the war leaving out the likes of Benjamin Adekunle and the important role Pa Awolowo played in ending the "war." The second call came from Major Mukoro and his group, Gideon Orkar paid with his life. Rather than support them, we termed them tribalists. The likes of General Oladipo Diya, then GOC 82 Mechanised Division in Enugu came on air to condemn the revolution, Raji Rasaki too in Lagos did not support it. Though Ishaya Rizi Bamaiyi claimed the glory of stopping the revolt in Lagos, it was General Zidon Gandi who actually deserved the glory. Zidon was in Ikeja Cantonment as a Commander at that time, but because Zdion has problem expressing himself, alll he said on that Sunday was "the dissidents have been dislodged." This was a turning point in Babangida's life. But for Sani Abacha, Babangida would have been dead by now. What did Abacha do? He saved and haboured Babangida and his family on that Sunday night. Where was Babangida's deputy, Augustus Aikhomu? Oh, he was in a boat holding party with friends.
Though the ECOWAS Monitoring Group ECOMOG was set up to give helping hands to fellow West African countries, but the genuine intention of the creator was to settle score with the 123 Brigade Battalion, Ikeja Military Cantonment because of their alleged role in the April 20, 1990 revolution. They stayed in Liberia for two years and was later disbanded. The military under Babangida, according to his former Chief of Army Staff, Salihu Ibrahim, was an "anything goes military." Under Babangida we had a military infected with corruption, this period produced a large number of military millionaires. Promotion and appointments were not done strictly on merit but on godfatherism. Babangida's regime laid the foundation of what Nigerians later experienced under late Sani Abacha.
On September 26, 1992 another Sunday, over 168 mid-riff officers were killed in a plane crash at the Ejigbo swamp, Lagos. The Officers were the 15th Course of the Senior Division of the Command and Staff College, Jaji. It was the first time in the world that a nation's military will lose such a number of officers in an accident in a day, not even in war situation.
I shall conclude Babangida in the next part and begin with MKO Abiola.
What was the link between Abiola and the Military? What about the ITT, June 12 and all that?
Thank you for all your comments. Stay tuned.