Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida; Army General who ruled Nigeria as military president from 1985 to 1993. As a key member of the group that overthrew Shagari’s government in 1983, Babangida was rewarded with an appointment as head of the army. That post helped him establish a network of officers that ultimately helped him unsit Muhammadu Buhari in 1985. Babangida’s political career exposed a penchant for scheming and a tendency to be unpredictable.
In response to the oil market decline and attendant economic stress of the early 1980s, Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) was introduced by Babangida in 1986. Babangida’s social programme led to the creation of the Directorate of Employment (NDE), the Better-Life Programme, and the People’s Bank. On the political front, he decreed a two-party state, banned former public office holders and set 1990 as his regime’s terminal date[i]. Babangida is widely remembered for his unpopular decision to annul the 12 June 1993 presidential election, and thereby plunging the country into chaos[ii]. He left Lagos on December 12, 1991 and effectively declared Abuja the new federal capital of Nigeria.
On June 23, 1993, the Ibrahim Babangida-led federal government nullified the June 12 election. The cancellation was announced at about 10 on Wednesday morning. Also was the suspension of the National Electoral Commission (NEC). Babangida stepped down in 2006 from the presidential race, because of his long standing association with contestants General Aliyu Gusau, as well as President Umaru Yar’ Adua, whom he described as a younger brother[iii].
Born August 17, 1941 in Minna, Babangida was married to Maryam who coloured his presidency with the glamour of her pet programme.
Babangida attended the Government College, Minna; Nigerian Military Training College. Kaduna; India Military Academy,. Royal Armoured Centre, United Kingdom; Armoured Officer’s Course, Army Armoured School. United States: Command and Staff College, dap and Nigerian Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies, NIPSS, Kuril. Jos.
Ibrahim Babangida unseated Major General Buhari on 27 August 1985. Long before then he had brilliantly presented himself as an alternative before critical segments of society. Initial skepticism at his coup soon turned to popular acclaim when he unmuzzled the press, exposed security dungeons and freed political detainees. Before the euphoria could wane, he further fed the mass elation. In quick succession came debates about the IMF loan, discovery and exposure of the Vatsa coup and the assembling of a Political Bureau to fashion out a transition programme. When the mass mood became more sober, Babangida had become firmly entrenched.
Babangida’s regime eventually found a programme of economic, social and political reforms, which were stalled at different levels by a deficit of conviction. The emergence of these programmes owed much to an influx of academics and technocrats into his policy team. On the economic front, Babangida launched the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) with Olu Falae and Kalu Idika Kalu emerging as its foremost exponents. Babangida’s social programme led to the creation of the Directorate of Employment (NDE), the Better-Life Programme and the People’s Bank. On the political front, he decreed a two-party state, banned former public office holders and set 1990 as his regime’s terminal date. All these programmes were sup-
ported in the military by a cluster of loyal officers called the Babangida Boys, and in civil society by big business and the the middle-class. None recorded optimal success, although SAP finally established the viability of the free market and privatisation as alternatives to the state-dominated economy[iv].
Babangida’s Structural Adjustment Programme was a reform programme that entailed the enthronement of market ethics, the liberalisation of trade, cutbacks in or elimination of subsidies, privatistion of state assets and reduction in the public sector’s workforce. The underlining philosophy of the programme was the operation of the market system under which deregulation of the economy would ensure efficient allocation of resources. It was a product of a national debate on whether or not Nigerians should implement the policy reforms usually specified as conditions that must be fulfilled prior to obtaining IMF support in forms of loans. Many Nigerians rejected the IMF loan, leading Babangida to introduce reforms christened the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP).
Critics of SAP, especially those in the academic sector kicked against the devaluation of the Naira, which was one of the most visible features of SAP. The economy, in their judgement, was not ripe for such liberalisation at that time[v].
Civil Service Reform
Reform carried out in the civil service in 1992 by the administration of General Ibrahim Babangida led to the designation of the most senior civil servant in a ministry as Director-General and the DG, was to retire with the chief executive who appointed him. The result was that the civil service, through the DGs, became political and subservient to the chief executive, most of who appointed junior officers above their superiors. Babangida’s reform was reversed in 1995 with the report of the Ayida panel on civil service reform.
There was a couple of attempts at Babangida’s life while he was in power. The consequence of one was the execution of the condemned as recommended by a tribunal headed by Maj .Gen. Ndiomu. The tribunal tried and convicted Major-General Mamman Vasta following the uncovering of a plot to violently overthrow the Babangida administration. The various sentences handed down by the tribunal were ratified by the Armed Forces Ruling Council[vi]. On April 22, 1990, Major Gideon Orkar and his compatriots struck, Fourty-three of them, including Orkar, Captain Nimibowei Empere, Lieutenants Awokoya Akogun and Cyril Ozoalor, 2nd Lieutenants Arthur Umukoro and Emmanuel Alade were executed by a triumphant Babangida in July that year.
[i] The News July 17, 1995
[ii] The News August 21, 2000
[iii] The Source July 23, 2000
[iv] The News July 17, 1995
[v] Newswatch July 26, 2004
[vi] ThisDay August 13, 1995