Dear Risen Christ … why leave Idiagbon behind?

Image result for idiagbonFirst, let me state clearly …. Military rule is an aberration.

Nigeria, has been blessed with two military Governments of note: Those of General Muritala Ramat Mohammed, and his Chief of Staff, Supreme HQ, Lt. General Olusegun Obasanjo who was his deputy then. The regime lasted from 29Th July 1975 to 13Th February 1976. By the way, he was not known as OBJ then.

Obasanjo, is lucky to have cashed the goodwill of “Mohammed and Associates” twice. First when Mohammed was assassinated in 1976, Obasanjo replaced him as Head of state and commander in Chief of the Armed forces. Again, when the dark-goggled despot – General Sanni Abacha imprisoned and later assassinated the Northern Presidential hopeful – General Shehu Musa Yar’adua, followed by the ‘Neutralization’ of Basorun MKO Abiola the winner of the June 12 1993 Elections, the Northern power brokers were more comfortable with handling over to Obasanjo, who is of the same Egba (Abeokuta) stock as Abiola.

Eight years down the line, when the 3rd Term project failed, Obasanjo’s scheme to hand over to the Late Umaru Musa Yaradua, the younger brother of the assassinated northern presidential hopeful was simply a move to say to power … “Return thee, power to where thou came from”.

The second Government of note is that of Brigadier General Mohamodu Buhari (Now fondly called GMB) and Colonel Tunde Idiagbon who was the Chief of Staff. The regime lasted from 31st December 1983 to 27th August 1985.

Idiagbon was a no-nonsense military officer, who served as the de-facto Prime Minister, not just a deputy. Both of them never smiled to, or with Nigerians, but Buhari sometimes smiled to foreigners and cameras. Somehow, the mesmerizing smiles of their gap toothed successor, fooled us all!

Whereas Buhari was leading, Idiagbon was doing most of the policy explanation and clarifications. He was the engine room of the administration.

Buhari/Idiagbon’s reign is best known for two things: his passion for the eradication of indiscipline in Nigeria, with the introduction of the War Against Indiscipline (WAI) and The change of currency that caught quite a number of people of guard, especially those with illicit wealth.

Before WAI, queues only existed in dictionaries. The second name of cities like Lagos was Chaos. Order only existed in heaven, not in Nigeria. The frowning Generals changed all that. They brought order into the lives of Nigerians, and once again, things worked. Foreign Exchange scams, Import license and Duty rackets, lateness, indolence etc were taken head-on by the administration. The result was a nation that made significant progress within this period. Never mind the reversal instituted by their successor, General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida (IBB).

The golden era ended when IBB took over Government, under the guise that nothing was working in Nigeria again. “Hospitals have became mere consulting clinics” was a phrase I clearly remembered in IBB’s inaugural speech. He left with the same hospitals being abodes for Cockroaches and rodents, where no doctor could even consult.

General Idiagbon was not without one or two unexplained actions. The retroactive law that was used in executing two drug pushers was indeed draconian. That one caught me off-balance. In another instance, when the rule was that all baggage must be checked at the Airport, which was the middle of the surprise currency exchange, 53 Suit Cases belonging to the Emir of Gwandu and his family were cleared at the Airport, without proper security checks fueling the speculation that they were filled with Pound Sterling and US Dollars. In another incident, the Government banned minors, those less than 21 years of Age from performing the Holy pilgrimages. In fact, The Buhari-Idiagbon regime was overthrown while Idiagbon was on Holy pilgrimage.

He returned to Nigeria in the company of his then 13-year old son, who should not have gone to Hajj as a minor by the rules of that time. That he returned to come and face his successors is a mark of courage and uncommon leadership even till date. Most people in his shoes will have sought political asylum in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He was retired and placed under House Arrest for three years, before being released when the IBB government stabilized.

Idiagbon enjoyed his new-found freedom, and finally succumbed to the cold hands of death on 24th March 1999. He was 58 years old. Nigeria lost one of its unsung heroes who came much ahead of his time, people who the likes of Thiefing Tarfa Balogun have come to rubbish with their National Awards.

While Buhari was incorruptible, it is clear that Idiagbon was the arrow-head of the anti-corruption drive. While GMB is very much alive and continues to run for the office of President, as if it is a game of golf, his attempts are like Tea without Sugar. If only Idiagbon was still around, we would have gone to beg him to come serve us.

It is of note that the Buhari-Idiagbon Government was a moslem-moslem regime. Yet, Christians did not have what can be termed a raw deal in their hands at that time. All Nigerians were happy. I mean the ones that shunned corruption. We were very happy that one could have wished that the clock will slowly roll backwards and bring back the duo that led with purpose and had a lot to show for it. I am beginning to get carried away ….

If I had the power to suggest someone who should resurrect with Christ this Easter, it has to be Tunde Idiagbon! Christ should have brought him back from the after-life. Do you disagree?

Let me end by stating once again that … Military rule is an Aberration!

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