Babagana Kingibe, Exposed And Fired

The Borno State-born politician, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe came into political limelight in 1991 when he made an attempt for the apex seat of power during the regime of General Ibrahim Babangida.

He had contested the primary elections with the late Chief Moshood K.O. Abiola and former vice president, Atiku Abubakar under the Social Democratic Party, (SDP), one of the two political parties in the country then.

He became so popular that the contest was very keen among the three of them, in which high wire horse-trading took place at the Jos convention of the party, which produced Abiola as the flagbearer of the party. It was a keenly contested poll which many had given to Kingibe. The search for a running mate for Abiola pitched Kingibe against Atiku, but the former finally clinched the ticket, which paired him up with Abiola on the SDP ticket, against that of the National Republican Convention, (NRC), which Alhaji Bashir Tofa and Dr. Sylvester Ugo held.

But before he embarked upon the presidential race, Kingibe was the national chairman of the SDP, an office he had to step down from for Chief Tony Anenih, to be able to go for the nation's highest office. That was the foundation for his political romance with Anenih, which continued when he occupied the powerful position of secretary to the government of the federation until his removal last Monday.

Kingibe's intellect and eloquence brought him public admiration at the peak of the presidential primaries. He was the man to watch during the political debate between him and his rival, Chief Tom Ikimi, the then chairman of the NRC.

The pair, Abiola and Kingibe rattled the political camp of the NRC and inflamed the political tempo of the nation. They were highly accepted, and Kingibe's name evoked favour across the country, because of his ability to bridge the gap for Abiola during political rallies.

Even though a Muslim ticket, their popularity grew and advanced beyond the borders of religion, and tribal divides of the nation. Their campaign train was intimidating, until they finally won the presidential election which was conducted on June 12, but annulled on June 21, 1993. It was after the annulment of the June 12 election that the character and modus operandi of Kingibe manifested. While Abiola openly challenged the cancellation of the polls by Babangida, Kingibe kept mute. Throughout the remaining months of Babangida’s rule until he handed over to the Interim National Government headed by Chief Ernest Shonekan, Abiola fought alone to reclaim the mandate he won with Kingibe.

Unknown to Abiola and many others, Kingibe had entered a pact with the top hierarchy of the military, which forcefully took over power on November 17, 1993.

Suddenly, the head of the junta, General Sani Abacha announced Kingibe and others who had been on Abiola's train, as members of his cabinet. Kingibe became the minister of Foreign Affairs and was so attached to the military regime that his democratic credentials became questionable. He was later redeployed as Internal Affairs minister, as a result of a power play within the cabinet.

When Abacha died, Kingibe went into political oblivion. No one heard of him anymore, until former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, appointed him African Union (AU) special envoy to Sudan and later, special representative of the chairperson of the AU and head of the mission in Sudan. From there, little was heard of him until his appointment on May 30, 2007, the first appointment Yar'Adua made. Kingibe bounced back to fame and power.

He was said to be one of the most trusted confidants of Yar'Adua, who turned down other recommendations, to appoint him as SGF. He was so powerful that he had the ear of the president on all matters. He was trusted with the coordination of the activities of government at the highest level, a position he used to entrench himself into the deep waters of politics.

But he tried, unsuccessfully, to bite the fingers that fed him. He tried to use the opportunity of the loophole of the legal tussle surrounding the presidential elections to carve a niche for himself. His Plan A was to become vice president if Yar'Adua had not overcome his health problem as the vice president, Goodluck Jonathan, would have become the president. And his Plan B was to position himself for nomination by PDP for the presidency, should the Supreme Court annul Yar'Adua's election. For all of this, Kingibe had set up structures for their actualisation, but unknown to him, his activities were being monitored very closely. He misread Yar'Adua as a weak leader after the president was said to have overlooked the first security report against him. He also believed that as the second highest northerner in power, his being ‘heir apparent’ was automatic

He had escaped sack early this month, but failed to learn a lesson from that narrow escape.

He had begun pulling together some SDP forces to help him actualise his vaulting ambition, forgetting that such platforms had given way for a PDP structure.

Now, he has been taken unawares by the same forces that brought him up. He has been dismantled and disfigured politically. Like a fly that followed the corpse to the grave, Kingibe's ambition has caught up with him. He has not only lost the powerful office of SGF, he has been highly embarrassed and disgraced out of office.

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