I’m Proud of the June 12 Credibility, Says IBB
Former military president, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, in an interview with Aisha Wakaso expressed concerns about the state of the nation, saying his administration, despite the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, took the credit for the freest and fairest election in the country. Excerpts:
How do you feel about June 12?
Well, it has come and gone. Whatever I feel about it, at least, Nigerians agreed on one thing, that we, the administration succeeded in holding one of the best and freest elections ever held in this country. That remains the historical part. The consequence is something else but at least, something that people thought could not be done, we proved that it was doable. So, I can say I feel proud. We may not have achieved the objective but at least, we conducted an election that was not rigged, an election that was not marred by violence, an election that is still being referred to in the country.
Do you have any regrets about June 12?
Whatever happens, I kept on saying it; I accept full responsibility of June 12. I just told you that it was one of the best elections ever held in this country though it became problematic. It had its pluses and minuses. It is not really a regret but it could be approved.
Do you share the beliefs that June 12 or Abiola should be accorded a National recognition?
Sometimes, I wonder when people talk about recognition. Before June 12 and before Abiola went into politics, Abiola had been a recognised Nigerian in Nigeria because of the activities he had done. He succeeded in touching the lives of a lot of people, a lot of community both within his environment and outside his environment. As far as recognition is concerned, what he stood for will stand him out amongst patriotic Nigerians.
What is your opinion on the state of the nation?
As I have been saying, Nigeria is a developing country and like any other developing country, it has its own problems- problems of development; problems of not being experienced and so on. I think what we are experiencing now. We are following the part of what other countries went through. I think our ability to make a lesson out of what is happening now and to make the best use of it for the future of this country. This is what we should be doing now.
Do you think this government is able to tackle corruption?
Corruption has always been what we have always complained about. My only advice is to sort of try to identify the causes and the sources and take measures that will either block or rectify it. I’ll give an example of what we did during my administration. We found out that in the Nigeria National Supply company, there was a huge fraud in getting the license and other activities, so the best we tried to do was to free the whole economic activities, open the economy more and the people don’t have to go through the supply company.
You see, once there is control in anything you do, it becomes a fertile ground for corruption. So, by opening up of the economy, then the people get to know that they don’t get to rely on government for everything because most of this corruption is within government circus.
What do you think of 2015?
It is a year that we all look forward to and pray that we will see and watch it. In the Nigeria calendar, in 2015, we will have an election and we pray we see it.
With the way things are going, are you worried about the state of the Nigeria Governors Forum and what do you think about the alleged interference of the President?
I think again the Governors’ Forum is a forum that has no constitutional provision but because people want to work for the country- people of like minds gather together to sit down and map-out how best this great country of ours could be developed and managed. The Governors Forum is like any other forum or association; it is only that it is the association of governors. Governors happen to meet and they decided to democratise it and it becomes democratic.
I think they should abide by what they are telling us to do and if they can’t do that, I think one feels a bit disappointed because everyone of them, 36 of them are suppose to run an election in their respective state- be it the election of the local government or ward or other. One would have thought that 36 people are not 2 million or 3 million people or 10 million people in the case of the 36 states of the federation and if 36 of them cannot manage themselves then there is something wrong.
What do you have to say about the President’s interference?
I think it is unfair on the President to say he is interfering. These governors were elected just like you, so what is the President interfering for- to do what? I feel if something is going wrong in the country or state which would eventually attract the national interest, yes the federal government can intervene, just in the case of what he did in declaring the state of emergency. I don’t think it is fair to say the President is interfering.
Looking at the crisis engulfing the PDP, don’t you think it is high time elders like you intervened?
It is surely giving some of us who have been the founding fathers of the party concern. We are concerned. It is just because the party discipline has since broken down. So, I feel disappointed with the way things are happening now. I think what is happening happens; I think this is not the first time we see party crisis in Nigeria or outside Nigeria.
What is important is the ability of members of the party to come back on line. So, I’m looking forward to a time when every member of the PDP will say we have not lived up to the expectation of the people, let us go back to the drawing board; let’s sit and talk. What did we do wrong? How can we get it right? How do we establish the confidence that the people have in us? This sort of thing is doable but if they don’t address it and find a solution to it, then I’m afraid the public, the ordinary Nigerians would lose faith and confidence in it and if that happens, it has serious consequence.
Recently, there have been stories flying around about you and General Buhari and that you threatened to expose him. What is it, really?
Which story? Well, the answer is no. There is no problem between General Buhari and I. General Buhari and I enjoy the best of relationship. I cherish our lives and time and we have passed the stage now of trying to talk of mundane things. We love this country; we fought for this country. So, I don’t think there is anything that will cause friction between me and him. Maybe it’s the imagination of the media.
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