IBB: The enigmatic leader @ 78

Former Military President, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (rtd).
Former Military President, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (rtd).

Since 1976 when General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida came to the lime light in Nigeria’s political arena, many have written a thousand and one documents about him, most especially about his eventual leadership style and political decisions. He has been given all sorts of names and condemned on many occasions – in short IBB has since become the issue at all times! I do not intend to repeat all those; instead, I choose to celebrate his 78th birthday of this great Officer-Gentleman, by telling Nigerians the inner mind of this wonderful leader – about the real person inside the costume, his motivations, abilities and emotions, as I view him. In this way I expect Nigerians, even if they do not appreciate him, they can at least understand the influences that dictate his behaviors as a leader.

From the start, one can immediately appreciate the fact that IBB has a sensible and realistic outlook on life, reason why those of us see him as a rock of strength, solid, reliable, dependable and constant. He is, in fact, amazingly consistent, because he possesses great powers of endurance and does things deliberately and methodically. Though he has a gentle, even soft appearance, he is enormously strong-willed and stubborn. He goes at his own pace and refuses to be rushed or pushed into anything before he feels sure about it. IBB can be coaxed and persuaded by charm, beauty or affection – but never enforced. He will hardly fight, but will stubbornly resist any attempt to compel him to do something he abhors.

When he has a purpose, IBB is extremely fixed, immovable, and bullheaded about it. He appears calm, unruffled, and unemotional most of the time, but behind his easygoing and peaceable appearance there lies great strength. When it comes to a contest of wills, he often wins, simply due to his relentless persistence and his ability to outlast just about anyone. There is a receptive, elusive quality to his personality, he can be difficult to pin down, difficult to know, something of a mystery and an enigma. Many at times I wonder if he is purposely creating illusions about himself with the intent to either accommodating, diverting the attention of his environment or simply entertaining! There is an intense and somewhat secretive or guarded quality about him, which may make people around him distinctly uncomfortable. On-lookers around him may feel he is constantly scanning their inner motives, because he seems to see through anything phony or any false pretense. Mostly he appears confident and clear about whom he is, and it is very difficult not to notice him or feel his influence when you are around him.

IBB is practical and well-grounded, and is a source of solace and emotional support for other people. He has flair to communicate and he expresses himself very well through writing, teaching or sharing ideas and information. No doubt IBB is persuasive and fluent with language.

His vitality is very strong and is a workaholic. He has a strong drive to win and to dominate his environment. Nonetheless, he is polite and gallant and makes a special effort to meet others half-way, he has the ability to give and receive love. Nurturing friendships, personal love and social life are important to him.

“Oga”, as we often address him, is a person of strong opinions and he expresses his views energetically and often dramatically. Because he has abundance of creative ideas, he has always enjoyed responsibilities in which he has great input or voice in decision-making. In his dealings, one could easily see that IBB is interested in anything secret or mysterious, by being keenly observant and seems to have “x-ray vision” regarding the inner motivations and intentions of the other people.

Those who know him well, like my late brother, General Nuhu Bamalli, who also served him as his Aide-de-camp (ADC), easily noticed his desire for harmonious relationships and strong avoidance of personal confrontations or any expression of intense, unpleasant emotions. He likes to live in peace and harmony with others at all times. That is why he can easily see points of similarity and unity with people who are vastly different from himself, and he befriends many different types of people. He is a considerate and thoughtful friend, and has a real flair for making others feel accepted and appreciated. He has a sympathetic nature and instinctively reaches out to people in need of help. He is tolerant and forgiving, always ready to overlook mistakes and gives others a second chance. He expects the best from people and draws it out of them, and enjoys making others comfortable and happy.

Because of his emotional generosity, his life is rich with friends, and often financial blessings as well. He is caring and compassionate and tends to be the “giver” in any relationship. There is a radiant, warm and attractive quality about IBB that others cannot help responding to favorably. He has high ideals and a refined attitude towards care to others, seeking to relate in ways that are beyond ego needs and selfishness.

Once IBB sets his mind on a goal, his dedication, determination and commitment to it are extraordinary. He pursues his ambitions tenaciously and will stubbornly refuse to give up, let go, or be influenced in any way, until he achieves what he wants – or until it is clear beyond a shadow of a doubt that all is lost. He is interested in concrete results and solid, practical achievements. His personal ambition is very high and desires to perform record achievements at all times. When necessary, he will be willing to fight his own battles without depending on others for support and encouragement. As a leader

IBB grasps new concepts quickly and is interested in new technologies, discoveries and innovations. At the same time, unconventional ideas and original approaches to problems are very attractive to him as well.

The strength of IBB lies in his ability to cooperate, to be diplomatic, and to know just what behavior is called for in whatever social situation he finds himself. He possesses a strong sense of fairness, the willingness to listen to opposing viewpoints and opinions, and the ability to be impartial and moderate, rather than extreme and one-sided. He has a positive and constructive attitude and enjoys helping people improve their lives, and the more service he renders, the more benefits and rewards that he finds coming back to him. He takes his commitments to others very seriously, especially in close one-on-one relationships. His strong sense of responsibility to the other persons makes him a trustworthy and dedicated partner.

Happy birthday Oga, and very many happy returns. On behalf of our family, we wish you longer life, better health, greater and continued service to our country and the wish for you to live to see your great grandchildren grow in happiness and prosperity.

Nourah Bamalli

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