Friday, August 17, 2012

Former President General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida says Nigeria is more corrupt today

Former military president, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, has dismissed insinuations that his regime institutionalised corruption and declared that the scourge is more rampant today than in his time.

The general, who is 71 today, was speaking to reporters at an interactive session on the eve of his birthday in his Hilltop residence in Minna yesterday.

"Some people said I institutionalised corruption but I remember I removed a governor for stealing N300,000, but now you cannot remove them even for stealing N3 billion," the general remarked, noting that those still accusing him of alleged corruption 22 years after he left office were neither realistic nor fair to him.

The former military president who also stated "I managed poverty but some people managed affluence" said he will continue to respect the late human rights lawyer and advocate Chief Gani Fawehinmi because he did all his criticism as a legal luminary "and you always learnt one thing from him."

Commenting on the prevailing security challenges, including the potential threat by the Boko Haram, IBB said it is a passing phase, insisting that the development will not disintegrate the country.

He added that people should be sincere and accept that President Goodluck Jonathan needed support of every Nigerian.

When asked whether he was hopeful that the nation will remain the same in the face of the Boko Haram and other challenges, Babangida said "Positive! Yes, you know why? When I was growing up I was involved in so many things in this country which border on the stability of this country.

From 1963 to 1993, when I left office, I was involved in many things. We also saw many things like Tiv riot and civil war. It went on like that because we are a 'developing' country, so it went through and is still going through. I participated in virtually every operation from 1964 till I left office. I am sensible enough to know that we have to go through this."

The former military president said what is happening in Nigeria is a passing phase in the history of every developing nation, saying that it is instructive to note that all the leaders of developing nations are always aware of the challenges.

He also stated that it was his belief that unlike his own generation, the younger generations have more things that will make them bond together easily and he could see the younger generation achieving unity at least 50 years.

"I don't think that we are likely going again into civil war despite all that is happening. I am not sure that your generation may like to go through what we went through," IBB remarked adding that hope for keeping Nigeria one lays in the hands of the common man and not the elite and media who he claimed were unnecessarily sensational about issues that could easily be resolved through dialogue.

The former military president said the common man has never been involved in the "if you cannot get it you find a reason to spoil it" syndrome.

He explained that his coming together with his "Boss" former president Olusegun Obasanjo was the best they could do at the moment because "when me and my Boss Obasanjo issued a joint statement we proffered our solution, it is laziness for somebody to sit down and ask what did we do. Fine, we were there when it started but we should not be deprived of the right to make a contribution, what President Jonathan needs is support and that is what we are giving him".

He said what he shared in common with former President Obasanjo was a passion for a united Nigeria. "I can tell you that if there is somebody committed to the unity of Nigeria that person is my Boss OBJ".

IBB therefore said: "I plead with all of us to live with one another in peace, that is the only way we can move forward. The country has a lot of potential, what we need to do is to try to live in peace with one another, we can channel this virtue of ours towards achieving a great country."

On his feud with Edwin Clark he said "Chief Edwin Clark is my friend. I have known him for over 30 years, there is mutual respect between us, he will not deny me as his friend. The media might have heightened it."

On the state police debate, IBB supported the idea of state police that will operate within the confines of a given law saying that in the 50s and 60s there was state police but "they said it was used to molest political opponents".

He said he wondered why the fear of state police continues to persist, saying "left to me the purpose of government is security, the fears that governors will use the state police is unfounded".

Commenting on why he left the late General Sani Abacha behind in 1993 when he was stepping aside, Babangida said that he left him behind to strengthen the interim government and not for any ulterior motive, saying that what happened after that was another story entirely.

Northern governors salute him at 71

Meanwhile, the Northern States Governors Forum (NSGF) has paid tribute to former Military President, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, who turns 71 today, saying his life is a testimony to the power of good leadership and purposeful living.

The chairman of the forum and Niger State Governor Dr Mu'azu Babangida Aliyu, described Babangida as the symbol of statesmanship, patriotism, vision and courage which are some of the excellent leadership virtues that have guided him through his years of active public service life.

The NSGF stated this in a statement signed by Governor Aliyu's Chief Press Secretary, Danladi Ndayebo. According to the forum, the former military leader has excelled in his chosen profession and went on to preside over Africa's most influential country during which period he showed rare vision, courage and exemplary leadership.

The governors noted that IBB had consistently remained on the path of promoting national unity, integration and development with his influential networks cutting across the length and breadth of Nigeria and beyond.

The forum said the history of Nigeria will always be incomplete without paying tribute to IBB's contributions and achievements to the socio-economic and political development of our country.

The governors listed the achievements of the former leader to include the realisation of the vision of Abuja as the Federal Capital City by providing the most vital infrastructure and moving the seat of power from Lagos in 1991.

The Forum also made reference to the privatisation of the broadcast industry, the licensing of private universities and airlines and the liberalization of the banking industry, including the establishment of community banks (now microfinance institutions) as ranking among IBB's notable legacies.

The governors then prayed God to grant Babangida excellent health, courage and many more years of selfless service to Nigeria and humanity.

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