Twenty-four years after he stepped aside on August 27, 1993, following the crisis that trailed the cancellation of the controversial June 12, presidential election, self-styled military president of Nigeria, Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida is about to return to the public domain again. Award-winning film maker, Obi Emelonye earlier in the week announced plans to commence production of “Badamasi”, a biographical film on the former military leader.
Pre-production of the film is scheduled to begin next month and will run till June, 2017. Intimating the press earlier about the project, Emelonye, who flew into the country from London, said, “Badamasi” is a story of love, war, politics, violence, diplomacy, coups, corruption and governance laced with heavy dose of Machiavellian intrigue. He said, his decision to embark on this project was informed by the need to profile a Nigerian leader in a historical, but biographical film, a treatment that has been meted out to other African leaders like Nelson Mandela, Patrice Lumumba and Idi Amin of Uganda.
Speaking further, Emelonye said, “The time has come for Nigerians to start telling their stories. This journey started in 2012 when I watched Mandela.
As I watched it, I felt proud as an African. As Nigerians, we have several historical figures who haven’t been immortalized on the big and small screens for the world to see.”
According to Emelonye, the Badamasi film project is shaped to be hard-hitting, controversial but historically factual in its treatment of Ibrahim Babangida’s rise from orphan obscurity to the zenith of Nigerian military power, in afraid of touching raw-nerves and being boldly revealing with the ultimate aim of giving the viewers unprecedented access into some of the most defining and controversial moments of Nigeria’s journey to nationhood; from the civil war to the many coups, from the IBB years to June 12 saga.
“For so long, so many of these issues surrounding the IBB years have been shrouded in mystery and hearsay, remaining eventually unresolved. This has not been helped by the noble silence of the man himself since stepping aside from the highest office in the land. In a series of no-holds-bar interviews, IBB spoke, for the first time about these controversies.
The result is some shocking perspectives and revelations that make this film a must watch for every Nigerian and indeed, every African,” Emelonye said.
Through the film, however, Emelonye who is known for blockbuster films such as “ Last Flight to Abuja”, “ Oxford Gardens”, “The Mirror Boy” and “Onye Ozi”, throws up a lot of unresolved, schemings and game of chess behind this enigmatic military leader that was nicknamed ‘Maradonna’ by the populace. Emelonye admitted that he’s aware of the controversy that will greet the film when it finally hits the big screen on October 1, 2017.
According to the him, the film will reveal many of the ‘darkest’ events in the life of Babangida, including the ‘ June 12 saga’, the infamous ‘Gideon Okar coup’ among other burning issues that set IBB apart from other African leaders. Emelonye describes the project as “the most important film of his career so far” and approaches the project with a sense of responsibility, objectivity and artistic wholeheartedness. “ When I want to embark on his film, I looked at the story of General Yakubu Gown, Olusegun Obasanjo, President Mohammed Buhari and General Ibrahim Babangida.
At the end, I settled for Babangida because his story is highly inspiring and still has historical relevance. This was in 2013, I know that a lot of things happened during IBB’s reign as Nigerian military leader which are still in the public domain till date. When I met him, I told him I’m making a film on a man called Badamosi, almost critical, almost objective about the man. And he replied; “May be, it’s time for me to speak,” Emelonye recounted.