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(OPINION) IBB @ 79: A general reflection

By Mall. Salman Yusuf

Yesterday, former Nigeria’s military president, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (rtd) marked in 79th birthday.

The event was unusually low-key owing to the global Coronavirus pandemic, where social distancing is today key to staying alive in our day-to-day living.

Even the former leader wouldn’t have favoured a loud celebration, having lost some dear ones to the COVID-19 pandemic.

IBB remains a man who many love and will continue to love.

With many world over, I heartily rejoice with you on your 79th birthday. In our today’s world, this is a landmark achievement. Attaining these years on earth is not by right or wisdom but by the special grace and favor of the Almighty Allah.

As a patriotic leader, you have over the years demonstrated your love for our dear country Nigeria through selfless service.

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Professor Jubril Aminu, former Minister of Petroleum Resources, in his tribute said: “I knew General Babangida before he became the President of Nigeria. That was one reason why it was so easy to accept the honour of serving with him.

Working with him, I can tell you this country is very fortunate to have a leader like him at this time because he has the qualities which Nigeria needs; he also has the ability of understanding which does not only mean that someone has intelligent; but also means that somebody has the depth of goodwill to be able to appreciate why certain things happen.

IBB’s patient with the degree of accommodation he displays is still unprecedented. He is a man who knows people and people know him. He knows a lot about Nigeria and Nigerians. With his deep religious beliefs, he knows God does all and not man. He is very forgiving and I believe that history will do him a lot of justice”. 

In another tribute by the Late Professor Babs Fafunwa, foremost educationist and Minister of Education under the Babangida administration, he said: “When I saw him on television, I would continue to wonder what kind of person he is. He is a soldier, having derived his reputation largely from the Dimka incident….

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So, you get this impression that this fellow is a very hard chap and when you come near him, you find a different personality: warm engaging, loving. In fact, when he notices that you are not at ease, he tries to put you at ease first before he discusses the issue. To me, we have had various leaders in this country, but he is unique, intelligent, bright, humorous and easy going”.

As Nigeria and the world join to celebrate you at 79, may the giver and taker of life continue to bless you with good health, long life and may your fountain of wisdom never run dry as many continue to tap from it.

We thank the Almighty for giving Nigeria and indeed the world such an enigmatic nationalist and patriot.

May Allah grant you divine health as you continue to be a leading light in our dear country Nigeria.