AT 70: IBB SLAMS OBJ
General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida
Former military president, General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida (IBB), yesterday took on the administration of his former boss, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, saying the latter's government between 1999 and 2007, lacked foresight and imagination.
Babangida, who came to power through a military putsch August 1985 and held on to power till August 1993, when the struggle to revalidate the annulled June 12, 1993 presidential election forced him to step aside.
But while fielding questions from journalists in Minna, Niger State, yesterday to mark his 70th birthday, the former military president, slammed the eight years civil rule of Obasanjo for wasting the economic affluence experienced in the country then.
He made a comparative analysis of his administration and that of Obasanjo, saying that the eight-year rule of his former boss was lacking in foresight and imagination.
According to him, while he was in government at a time when a barrel of crude oil was $10, the price rose to $100 during Obasanjo tenure.
'If I had been lucky like those in the recent past, I would have done more than we did. In my eight years in office I was able to manage poverty and achieve success while somebody for eight years managed affluence and achieved failure', he said.
Babangida said if he had laid his hands on $16 billion that was squandered on the independent power project, he would have provided Nigeria with not only electricity but nuclear plant.
The former leader gave kudos to his administration, saying those who helped him shaped the administration were brand names in their different fields of endeavour. He named the likes of the late Prof Olikoye Ransome-Kuti, Chief Duro Onabule, the late Prof Gordian Ezekwe and Prof Ojetunji Aboyade.
Babangida, however, said at 70, he had already bade politics goodbye, pointing out that he would be satisfied remaining an elder statesman. 'Politics? Forget it. I will sit in Minna here and people will come and seek my advice.'
Looking back at life, Babangida said in his 70 years the saddest moment of his life was when his wife, Maryam, died while his most joyful moment was when he became President of Nigeria.
Meanwhile, Minister of Information in the Babangida regime, Chief Alex Akinyele, has said that history 'will ultimately be kind to the ex-leader' (IBB)
In a chat with Daily Sun, yesterday, Akinyele, who is an Ondo High Chief, said: 'Even from now, his position in history is becoming clearer. In the past, IBB was only mentioned when you talked of the annulment of the June 12, 1993 election. But today, his role as a statesman is becoming clearer. There is now a clearer perception of his eight years rule, and the impact he made in the various spheres of national life.'
The former minister listed Babangida's achievements in office to include internal cohesion among the different ethnic nationalities, massive infrastructural development, leadership role for the country in the African continent, derivation formula for the oil producing communities, and many others.
'At 70, Babangida is a true patriot and statesman, and he deserves all the goodwill and praises we can heap on him,' Akinyele declared.
'When history will record his days in and out of office, he will be numbered among the true patriots this country has produced. He fought in the civil war to keep Nigeria united, he led us for eight years, and even in retirement now, he makes crucial interventions in the realm of ideas, which shows him as an illustrious Nigerian. His footprints are already indelibly printed on the sands of time.'
Wishing Babangida longer life and good health, Akinyele urged current leaders to tap from the deep fountain of his experience and wisdom.
'With people like him, you have to put political differences aside. This is a man who ruled for eight years, and he has invaluable experience. At a challenging time, as we are going through in the country now, let our current leaders draw from his wealth of experience. He has gone through it all and he can offer vital counsel. Security challenges, knotty political issues, the economy, ethnic insularity, he has been through them all. His advice will be worth its weight in gold', Akinyele added.
Akinyele recalled that he was the first-ever minister from Ondo and it was Babangida who made it possible.
'That is why I remain ever loyal to him. He is a man with a large heart, a generous spirit. May God spare him for much longer time, and may he see the greater development of Nigeria.'