His style of leadership, coupled with the fact that he reigned at a time when the legendary Argentine footballer, Diego Amando Maradona, dazzled the world with his dribbling skills on the field of play, earned him the nickname “Maradona”. General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, Nigeria’s self styled Former Military Head of State and self proclaimed “Evil Genius”, is a sly character, gifted with cunning, famous for prevaricating on national issues, skillful at issuing vague and ambiguous statements, and master of doublespeak. He is at it again. This time it is about a press statement issued by his spokesperson, Prince Kassim Afegbua last Sunday, in which he commented on the state of affairs in the nation and allegedly asked President Muhammadu Buhari not to seek a second term in 2019. Hours after the release of the press statement, another press statement allegedly emanating from the gap toothed General was released denouncing the initial press statement issued by Afegbua. The second press statement did not ask Buhari not to run in 2019 but said that the Former Head of State would explore other channels in communicating his thoughts about the state of affairs in Nigeria to President Muhammadu Buhari. However, in a new twist to the story, IBB spoke to THIS DAY newspaper on Monday, and affirmed that he indeed authorized the initial statement issued by Afegbua, and that the second press statement was issued by his “friends” on his behalf. Meanwhile, the Inspector General of Police, Mr Ibrahim Idris had declared Mr Afegbua wanted for defamation of character just hours after the release of the second press statement.

I have read both press statements and the only difference between them is where IBB allegedly asked Buhari not to seek a second term. I must say though that in the initial press statement issued by Afebua, IBB made a subtle, veiled and indirect call on President Buhari not to contest in 2019, while in the second statement there was nothing of such. I say so because in comparison to the press statement issued by Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, calling on Buhari not to contest in 2019, IBB’s press statement lacked direct, brutally frank, concise, and precise words. He seemed to be making suggestions rather than definitive statements unlike OBJ who employed more of the latter than the former. Arguably, the difference in the choice of words is a reflection of the difference in their personalities.

Here are some posers which might help us resolve this conundrum with Solomonic wisdom. Is it possible for Afegbua to release a press statement on his own without authorization from his principal? Did Babangida make a complaint to the IGP about the altering or the unauthorized release of a press statement in his name by Afegbua? On whose instruction did the IGP act upon to declare Afegbua wanted? A declaration which is illegal anyway presuming Afegbua was guilty because he was not given up to 24 hours to present himself to the Police authorities before he was declared wanted. More so, this is a civil matter and not a criminal matter so the proper thing to do is to file libel charges against Afegbua in a civil court and that should be the call of IBB not the IGP. The release of a press statement by General Babangida barely two weeks after Obasanjo’s missive to Buhari, both counselling him not to seek reelection in 2019 could be indicative of something fishy. Perhaps, it is reflective of the outcome of the meeting held last year by Generals OBJ, IBB, and Abdulsalami Abubakar at Babangida’s hilltop mansion in Minna, Niger State, while Buhari was battling for his life in a London hospital. Meaning, we should be expecting General Abubakar to be next in line to launch a missive at Buhari asking him not to run in 2019.

I am really not surprised at this whole brouhaha over IBB’s press statement. He has done similar things in times past. I fear Afegbua could be the fall guy in this latest episode. I think that the time has come for Prince Kassim Afegbua to sever his relationship with a General who has manifested more of cowardice than courage in civil life. A man who cannot deliver himself from the hands of his friends. The same friends who piled pressure on him to annul the June 12,1993, Presidential Elections, Nigeria’s freest and fairest, since independence in 1960 till date. The IGP is a meddlesome interloper in this issue. It is curious that he was quick to act on Afegbua but is lethargic on the issue of killings by Fulani herdsmen. Probably someone in Aso Rock is jittery about 2019.




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