Former military president, General Ibrahim Babangida, has said that he has quit partisan politics, but added that he will, henceforth, provide advisory services to the nation as a statesman. He made the disclosure at the Daily Trust 9th Annual Dialogue at the Transcorp Hilton in Abuja Thursday.
Drawing inspiration from former US President Richard Nixon who once told the US media he would no longer be in the public glare for bashing, Babangida said: "I have news for you my media friends: you will never see Ibrahim Babangida again. Today, my dear media friends, although I will continue to be involved by playing advisory role, I have decided never to seek political office in this country again."
He added that though, he had left office more than 20 years ago, "I am still a substance for bashing from the media."
Chastising the Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku, for departing from his known radical bent to public policies while he (Maku) was a student leader, Babangida said Maku had changed and had become the champion of government’s deregulation policy.
He said: "I have my brother here, Labaran Maku, who was a young student leader always leading demonstration against Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP), always demonstrating against minor increases in fuel prices. Today, he is in government, he is now government spokesman.
"Maku was also one of the restless reporters against IBB transitional programme, I hope Labaran Maku will use his wealth of experience to reverse all the hot phrases and coinages used by protesters, the Lagos youths, critics and civil right activists. Most of the phrases used in the protest were coined by Labaran, as a student."
Also speaking at the event, Senate President David Mark said the African continent has no alternative to democracy, as it remains the only platform for sustainable development.
Mark, who was represented by the Senate Leader, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba (SAN), added: "Democracy is a must for Africa. The Senate has shown its commitment to both democracy and the media by enacting the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act."
Governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole, on his part, urged the media not to give priority to profit making at the expense of national interest.
The governor further said that the exigency of national security should compel the media to work hard so as "not to allow Nigeria go under”, adding: “when national interest is at stake, I think there is need to ask questions".
Representative of the Minister of Information, Kingsley Isadalor, said the duty of the media is to embrace the profession in such a way that both the led and the leaders become beneficiaries of the development of journalism.
Chairman of Media Trust, publishers of Daily Trust, Mallam Kabiru Yusuf, told the gathering that this year’s event was organised to x-ray the role of the media in politics, and how it affects governance and development.
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