Nigerians have very strong negative opinions about political leadership and General Ibrahim Babaginda is no exception. I lived under his regime for a few years but was too young to appreciate this period in Nigeria's history. My objective with the blog was never to tackle the politics of different leaders; rather, I want to find unique stories that bring to light another aspect of their character that differs from the public narrative. I was at my mother’s restaurant the first time I heard this story and decided to to reach out to the man who had this personal interaction with Babaginda.
The President’s home was still in Lagos and my home was close to where the President lived. I had this friend who was the son of Babaginda’s personal doctor and one afternoon, myself, and a couple of other friends visited the president’s home to meet his son. The President was not home when we got there, but after hanging out for some time, Babaginda himself walks in and sits down in the living room. This was my first time seeing him in person and he started talking to all of us. While talking, he noticed that one of my friends kept staring at his watch - I still remember that the watch had a coat of arms on the face. Babaginda proceeded to ask him if he liked the watch and my friend replied saying yes. The president took off the watch and handed it to my friend.
When I tell this story to people they miss the human element of it and proceed to make their own negative conclusions. To me, he was showing his human side that many don't experience and there are plenty of stories like that about him as a man apart from his politics.
As remembered by a Nigerian living in Toronto, Canada