Two ex-Nigerian leaders engage in verbal jabs, as they spat over tenure

Lagos, Nigeria (PANA) - Two former Nigerian leaders, Olusegun Obasanjo and Ibrahim Babangida, are virtually dancing naked in the public square, as they trade words over who ran a more successful tenure than the other.

While Obasanjo (OBJ) called Babangida (IBB) a 'fool' for describing his eight-year tenure as a waste since he could not ensure a stable electricity supply to Africa's most-populous nation, Babangida slammed Obasanjo as a 'greater fool' for calling him a fool.

And local newspapers are feasting on the story.

''IBB, a fool at 70 - Obasanjo'' is the front page headline in the private Punch newspaper Friday, with the rider: ''Babangida: OBJ is a greater fool''.

The Nation newspaper also carried the story on its front page, with the headline ''Obasanjo: IBB a fool at 70'', with the rider: ''IBB: Nigerians know the fool''.

''OBJ, IBB at war'' was how the Vanguard newspaper reported the spat on its front page, with the riders: ''You are a fool at 70 - Obasanjo'' and ''You, a failure, witless comedian - IBB''

Babangida, who ruled Nigeria as a military President from 1985 to 1993, stirred the hornet's nest when, during a press conference to mark his 70th birthday earlier this week, slammed Obasanjo - his senior in the military - for presiding over a wasteful tenure during his second stint as Nigeria's leader from 1999 to 2007.

Obasanjo, who previously ruled Nigeria as a military Head of State from 1976 to 1979, reacted to Babangida's criticism Friday, saying: ''It's a bit unlike Babangida. But if Babangida has decided, om becoming a septugenarian, that he will be a fool, I think one should probably do what the Bible says in Proverbs Chapter 26, Verse 4. It says don't answer a fool because you may also become like him.''

Babangida did not waste any time in firing back at Obasanjo: ''We do not want to believe that he truly said that, but if it is true that he did say that, Nigerians should know who the greatest (sic) fool is. For a man who cannot possibly tell his true age, one may excuse his present outburst as the effusions of a witless comedian.''

In the meantime, Nigerians seem to be relishing the public spat between the two former allies and retired Army generals, going by their comments in the online editions of the various newspapers.

''I don't want to believe that the two generals said what the media is crediting to them. But if they did, then they both sound like that name they call themselves. Reading their comments, I see them exposing rather than defending themselves. Their media assistants should do better to manage the situation,'' wrote a reader who identified himself/herself as 'Jurbe' in the online edition of The Nation on Friday.

Another reader, Iji Orimili, in the Vanguard, wrote: ''The truth is that these two wrestlemanias will soon die off, but their atrocities remain indelible. Notorious fools.''

Observers say the last is yet to be heard on the face-off, which many trace to the fact that Obasanjo supported incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan against Babangida during the primaries to pick the presidential candidate of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for April's election.
-0- PANA SEG 19Aug2011

19 august 2011 11:03:45

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