IBB, Welcome Home From Germany, Not From Land Of The Dead… | Independent Newspapers Limited
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IBB, Welcome Home From Germany, Not From Land Of The Dead…

Bola Ige
Posted: Jul 11, 2016 at 2:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)


By William Bozimo

IBB has always been enigmatic. And a reporter’s delight, in and out of the military service. Even in his heydays in the military with his popularity spreading across all ranks and file of the soldiers. He would readily attend the birthday parties of lower ranked soldiers in the barracks.

He was easily seen as a soldier’s soldier and of the people; as an officer who frequently commingled with the high and the low spreading his legendary generosity which you could smell in the air.

In spite of his humane exterior with people of all classes, rich and poor, he kept a dignified distance when matters of the routine change of governments were being designed and executed with clinical exactitude. He is mostly unknown even by his closest of friends.

He served his country under the Armoured Corps and he could be vicious when you try to confront him in his line of duty.

His familiar gap –toothed smile has become his trade mark. But don’t mistake it for absolute friendship. He could be as changeable as the British weather.

Ibrahim Badamasi Babaginda alias IBB hails from Niger State and had since remained iconic. Many hate him to love him. Could he be Janus- faced like a Greek god? And many think he has two faces, both of them residing in one Man. His sheer charisma has baffled many a friend like two of his bosom friends. Late Maj-Gen MammanJiya Vatsa, a poet- soldier and Dele Giwa, a blossoming member of the Pen Fraternity, did not live long enough to glow and savour his friendship with the ‘Maradona’ of Nigeria’s soldiery. We should leave this for another day.

IBB, as we know him today, came to the limelight during Col. Dimka’s Coup on February 13, 1966 as he assassinated Murtala Ramat Muhammed  as his convoy zoomed from Ikoyi to Dodan Barracks, Lagos, then seat of the military government. Lagos was thrown into monumental confusion as most workers abandoned their offices and only a few of us journalists dared to report for duty at Kakawa Street, home to Daily Times.

As we were saying before we digressed, IBB moved swiftly with his Armoured Personnel Carriers to the Radio Nigeria premises in Ikoyi.

He called out to Col. Bukar Suka Dimka to stop the madness and surrender to him.

That was courage at its ultimate in this important threshold of the Nation’s history. IBB literally looked at death in the face and walked up to him unarmed.

From then on, IBB’s charm and mystique baffled many a soldier.

With a calculating mien, he disarmed Dimka, who had blood on all his fingers.

Why did IBB dare a man who has just wasted the life of a military head of State who has only spent 200 days in office? Some day, he will tell me in an exclusive interview why he dared Dimka at the Radio station and perhaps, smoked him out.

The second time when his life was threatened in Major Orka’s coup of 1991 April 22, his Adc was killed in a hail of bullets as he was bottled up in Dodan Barracks. Miraculously, Gen. Abacha came to his rescue mobilised loyal troops and  in a counter- attack, quelled what could have been a bloody coup in the history of Nigeria.

Many did not forgive him, IBB, for the annulment of the June 12 elections in 2003 in which, one of his best friends was presumably, believed to be coasting to victory. He took absolute responsibility for the annulment in later years.

The IBB charisma soared again, in the past two months, as he was rumoured to have joined his ancestors. He debunked the rumour of his death as being either exaggerated or born out of ill -will by enemies of the IBB towering image while on a sick bed in a hospital in Germany.

The Man IBB, many would love to call him the ‘Maradona’, the Argentine Soccer wizard and the ‘Evil Genius’ all combined had created this love- hate relationship by his fans and enemies.

Whatever any one would say, he has become so iconic in the annals of Nigeria’s military history, especially, for creating Delta State, ostensibly, for his delectable wife and First Lady, Maryam Babangida, nee Okogwu,  whose fantastic hair style fashionable for many women in the country,  and mostly remembered for her ‘Better Life for Rural Women.’

In this period of Ramadan, as Muslims all over the world are fasting and praying, this column   wishes him many more years of life touching magic that had endeared him to many in the father- land.

The ugly rumour about his passing on was debunked when a Television station pulled an exclusive interview with him from his hospital bed in Germany. When asked about his passing on he replied in his Canary voice ‘But you are talking to me now. I was sick and there was no doubt about it, but I am receiving treatment now and I am well and healthy. I will be coming back home this week.’ IBB reassured people in the country.

One could recall rumours of the death of the late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe in those days, but somehow he survived most of those who led the spread of the rumours.

One is compelled to extend this felicitation to IBB as a friend I knew many years back, and with Ramadan, I wish him longer life for the sake of humanity and his charismatic mien .IBB, in and out of office, many still adore you for your patriotic zeal and courageous acts of valour as a true soldier. Always keep the gap- toothed mesmerizing smile.