Rtd. Gen. Babangida trip as emissary forNigeria's Obasanjo to Sudan raises interest, questions about whatnext in power play?
A symbolic, and in deed, significant show of the unfolding patterns of alliances within the Nigerian establishment was in evident on Saturday December 4, 1999, in far away Sudan. On that day, Nigeria's controversial former head of state, retired Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, traveled as a special emissary of President Olusegun Obasanjo to the Islamic Republic of the Sudan to deliver a message to President Omar el Bashir.
It is a remarkable development because Obasanjo's relationships with Babangida's has remained a matter of major interest with the fact that the former military ruler not only annulled the June 12, 1993 elections which threw Nigeria into a political logjam of severe proportions and the subsequent death of M.K.O Abiola, Obasanjo's kinsman. Some Nigerians have been speculating that Obasanjo may probe the Babangida regime, as he has gradually been doing with Babangida's military successor, the late Sani Abacha.
Also, the trip is drawing claims that the projected significant financial and logistical support which Babangida and his group of retired Generals offered Obasanjo were critical to his winning the 1999 presidential nomination over Dr. Alex Ekwueme, and later over Olu Falae in the general elections. (in this file photo, Obasanjo and Babangida, Abacha and retired Gen. T.Y Danjuma, now Defense minister of Nigeria, are seen playing the game of draughts, before they all rose to lead the country.)
How the latest shifting alliances and power-play will turn out will not only be very interesting to report and follow but have, increasingly, become fodder for the millions of Nigerians who are beginning to wonder where the power of the army generals ends and authentic democracy begins.
The answer, my friends, is blowing in the wind.
Nwangwu, recipient of the Journalism Excellence Award, HABJ 1997, is the Founder & Publisher of USAfrica The Newspaper, USAfricaonline.com (first African-owned U.S-based professional newspaper to be published on the internet), The Black Business Journal,www.BBJonline.com and NigeriaCentral.com. He covered U.S president Bill Clinton's visit to parts of Africa, March-April 2, 1998. He is writing a book on the experiences of recent African immigrants in the U.S.