Meeting the IBB I never liked

The man Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, popularly called IBB, an acronym drawn from the first letters of his names, is unarguably a man of many faces. He means different things to different people at different times and in different places.
With the sobriquet, Maradona or Evil Genius, IBB can conveniently be described as another version of Jose Morinho of the footballing world because they both swim in troubled waters from time to time.
The podgy Minna-born Army General came into our national life at the highest level in 1985 through a military putsch which ousted the Buhari/ Idiagbon administration.
Up to this point, I, as a young man, knew little or nothing about him safe for the handed down fables about him. However, what popularized him the most him, albeit notoriously, was his running against the tide of history, particularly the ungodly annulment of June 12, 1993 presidential election. It was painful. Despite being a reporter, I was sentimentally attached to MKO Abiola’s cause. In IBB’s grand deceptive design, Abiola was never to become President of Nigeria.
In our very own eyes, IBB and his cohort, played us like a game of chess, tossing us across the board to wherever they wanted.
Then, Abiola died! The day he died, so many people and so many things died, even if only metaphorically. In fact, that day, I had a kind of headache that I never experienced or had before and even ever since; it’s unexplainable. As it also practically turned out, many died for this cause, subsequently.
Since then, I hated the man called IBB.
Paradoxically, however, fate has a way of working out things in man’s life. This explains why some years later, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, a proud and unrepentant IBB loyalist, would emerge as the Osun State Governor; he and would appoint me as one of his media aides.
Can you see the nexus? IBB+Oyinlola with me on board as the latter’s aide. So simply, they are close. As a governor, he made a habit of seeing his former boss, once in a while.
As Oyinlola’s aide, we were with him everywhere, including the Hilltop Mansion of IBB in Minna, Niger State on many occasions.
My main thrust here is; I had the opportunity of being in IBB’s mansion a number of times with my oga.
Three of such close encounters with IBB readily come to mind, here:
On one of our visits to his Minna Mansion, I had led the media crew; and on this fateful day, our photographer, Mr Tommy Adegbite, could not make the trip. So on getting to IBB’s end, I swung into action, not wanting to miss out anything.
After exchange of pleasantries, IBB and Oyinlola “stepped aside” to one side of the corridors and were discussing. It was a balanced view for me (as a reporter, doubling up as a photographer) and I told myself I could get a good shot of either and both of them. So I took off my phone and moved closer to them for the shot. As I took the first shot, IBB looked up and quipped jokingly, “Chief Photographer?” Prince Oyinlola cut in, “No, he is my Press Secretary”. IBB then bantered further by saying, “Oh, so you be oga patapata!”
As I took those shots and he made those momentary jokes, I was telling myself that this doesn’t know that I don’t like him at all. After those few shots, I left to allow them have their privacy. End of first meeting.
The next close meeting with IBB was even more dramatic. After he had met with my boss on another visit which we made to his mansion, the nation’s former President insisted that we must have lunch with him; and our boss obliged.
While the meal was being prepared, we made for the dining room. While Prince Oyinlola, IBB and one Army Col. (rtd) (can’t remember his name) were on a table, four of us being Oyinlola aides, were on another table close to them.
To whet our appetite, we were served a delicious and chilled fura de nunu (a Hausa drink). Curiously, while we were talking silently at our table which had our DOP, ADC and Doctor, IBB stood up from their table, made straight to the fridge closer to us and brought another jar of chilled fura de nunu. He startled me as he singled me out to serve me! He even ignored Oga Oyinlola’s “protest” that I was ok. He told me that day, “It’s good for you, you will enjoy it” (even at that, I still asked myself; abi this man knows that I don’t like him ni?)
While the momentary drama lasted, we all stood up as a mark of respect until he was seated. Till we got back to Abuja that day, other aides were calling me “Ore IBB” (a friend of IBB)
My third encounter was during his reconciliation with the leader of the 1990 Gideon Okar’s botched coup, Major Saliba Mukoro held at IBB’s Abuja Mansion. Mukoro is now a PhD holder in Criminal Justice from Sam Houston State University, Huntsville,Texas, United States.
The peace meeting was midwifed by Oyinlola. That day, our ADC suddenly called that I should urgently find my way to where they were. A vehicle was already stationed somewhere to lead me. By this time, it was already getting late, around 5:40pm or thereabouts.
On getting there, my boss briefed me and stressed the need for it to be widely publicised. Fortunately, a video cameraman was with me. I set the ball rolling, I conducted interview for IBB, Mukoro and Oyinlola, the mediator.
There and then, IBB wanted to know how I would couch the story. At another breathe, he asked me whether the story would still hit NTA Network news broadcast that day considering the time. I assured him that I would try. Meanwhile, the more I was delayed the more I was becoming restless because by this time, it was already 7pm. But to God’s glory, the news did not only make the 9pm Network news broadcast but it was widely used by newspapers and the electronics.
All of the above would lead to one conclusion, among other possible conclusions: Not only is IBB a man who means different things to different people in different places and times; he is a man you may love to hate or hate to love, depending on who, how, where when and what brought you together with him; at what time and in what circumstance.