Former Edo state governor and Nigeria Labour Congress president, Adams Oshiomhole has asked former military president, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida to apologise to Nigerians for actively contributing to the country’s current unpalatable sociopolitical state during his tenure as Head of State. Should IBB indeed apologise to Nigerians for his role in this? We’d probably accept one. However, there are bigger fish to fry with regards to holding the former Head of State accountable for decisions he made and actions he took as president.
Mr. Oshiomhole demanded the apology from IBB in his speech at the 5th Triennial Delegates Conference of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), delivered through the General Secretary of the National Union of Textile, Garment, and Tailoring Workers, Comrade Issa Aremu.
The former labour leader spoke to General Babangida’s suggestion to restructure Nigeria, in between which he also pointed out that the ex-military president had already previously implemented this suggestion as president between 1985 and 1993. The results of which were devastating to the economy.
“I thought that he should have apologised to the whole country, but there is nothing like that from him. But it is now fashionable for him to talk about restructuring. It was under him that the economy was restructured. He devalued the currency and downsized workers. It is important that we prioritise these terms.”
The poetically furnished speech in which IBB made the call for a restructuring of the country was part of an appeal to Nigerians to refrain from campaigns that encouraged hostility and division. Particularly in light of the devastating consequences of a war. An excerpt from it reads:
“…We need to tinker with our Constitution to accommodate new thoughts that will strengthen our nationality. Restructuring and devolution of powers will certainly not provide all the answers to our developmental challenges; it will help reposition our mindset as we generate new ideas and initiatives that will make our union worthwhile.”
While we continue to weigh the merits and demerits of restructuring the country at this time, it is understandable that such statements would irk citizens such as Mr. Oshiomhole. This is due to the fact that they have witnessed the actions of leaders such as the general in positions of power, and their lingering effects on the economy first hand.
For instance, IBB played prominent roles in military coups in Nigeria, as well as the cancellation of the results of the June 12 elections that led to riots in the country for decades. Agree or not, these parts of our history occurred in systematic bids to restructure it, one way or another. Therefore, in the face of the ‘failed attempts’, an apology – or a thousand – would be in order.
Yet, given the fact that Nigerians have to live with these poignant memories of the effects of political leaders who come and go and leave a rubble behind, can apologies alone fix us?
Rather than ease off, the plight of Nigerians seems to plunge with each emerging administration that promises a change or a difference. Elections have become just another opportunity for temporary and organised enrichment, and Nigerians are neither provided with nor able to afford certain basic amenities.
We would certainly take apologies from past Nigerian leaders like IBB. Even from sitting President Buhari. But, we would also take sociopolitical reformations, developed infrastructures, social and economic inclusion, and improved standards of living and education, please.