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Babangida: How Not To Lie @ 80



The former military dictator saying he didn’t deliberately cite Asaba as Delta state capital to please his wife and her people proves he’s an unrepentant liar.

Asaba wasn’t even part of the old Delta province and being a border community to Anambra, its misplacement as Delta capital still negatively affects the state’s development.

Babangida can’t defend the indefensible. He should rather let sleeping dogs lie than aggravating unresolved issues.

Former military dictator and self styled Maradona of Nigeria politics, Gen Ibrahim Babangida has, undeniably, a rich page in the nation’s political history, for both right and wrong reasons.

Among the worst wrong reasons for any mention of his name in the history books was his deliberate declaration of a border community, Asaba, as capital of Delta state when the military junta he led splited old Delta province from the Benin province in 1991 states creation.

The blatant lie by Gen Babangida in his recent 80th birthday comments to the effect that his choice of a border town community as Delta state capital was not induced by his wife, Maryam’s lineage to Asaba is, to say the least, an appalling attempt to defend the indefensible.

If Babangida has exhausted all meaningful and positive experiences to share for life at 80, he should have been silent than opening old wounds. He should be informed enough to know that some wounds don’t heal, some scars last a lifetime.

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Old Bendel state had two provinces – Benin province and Delta province. Asaba was in Benin province before the creation of Delta state. Shockingly, not only did Babangida include Asaba in Delta state, he imposed it as the state capital. What a deliberate error!

Today, the oddity of imposing a border community as a state capital continues to impact negatively on the development of Delta State. A Delta indigene from say, Gbaramatu, Bomadi, Ogulagha, Olota, Okwagbe, Ogidigben, Jeremi or Koko needs to travel several kilometers to access the state capital. Whereas an indigene of neighboring Anambra state resident in Onitsha can walk in and out of Asaba in a matter of minutes through the Niger Bridge.

Today Anambra state enjoys more presence of her indigenes in the Delta State Civil Service than Delta indigenes from distant local government areas. All an Anambra man needs, is to stroll into Asaba, procure an Oshimili Certificate of Local Government of origin and buys employment as council staff or state staff.

Besides, Asaba is constantly under threat of Igbo secessionist attacks because of not just its proximity to Onitsha, but by its ancestral affinity as an Igbo community. Asaba speaks same language as rest of Anambra state and should have been part of the Eastern states than being Delta.

Agreed, sometimes, we need to forget the past and focus on the way forward. Even if he lives a thousand years, Babangida cannot justify self on a deliberate error as in citing a border community as the capital city of a state as large and endowed as Delta with better centralised locations he could have pointed as a capital of Delta.

It is a common knowledge Babangida deliberately misplaced Asaba as the capital city of Delta state to please his wife and her people. If he has nothing to say really, like we said, he should just enjoy a quiet 80th birthday in his comfort zone.

He should just let sleeping dogs lie and stop aggravating unresolved crises.

Zik Gbemre
August 18, 2021


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