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How IBB plans to rescue Nigeria, by Kazeem Afegbua

* Says Babangida means business

Kazeem Afegbua, spokes person for General Babangida, explains in this interview, why Nigerians have in IBB a leader who can fill the void in the polity with his vast experience.  He also insists that beyond the noise of the market place, the electorate would determine the 2011 presidential elections.Excerpts:

General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida is on the march again.  This time is he serious about marching into the presidential race?
More than ever before, he’s much more committed and determined this time around to go the whole hog and present himself to the Nigerian electorate.

And in doing that he has also consulted widely and he’s still consulting.  We’re hoping that by the time the whistle is blown for the race, we would also bring out our own manifesto for the Nigerian electorate to judge.

So far, we know that we have reached out to a number of our associates and friends who have a stake in the affairs of the nation and in most importantly people who have a stake in the interest and development of the Nigerian people. I can tell you categorically that there is no going back concerning 2011.

What signs should Nigerian look out for or what signs can Nigerians point at as proof-positive of Babangida’s seriousness this time around compared to other times?
Well, may be in 2006 or those earlier times, it may have been a media creation but I can tell you that this time around we mean business.

Kazeem Afegbua

And mind you when he decided not to contest in 2006, he gave two reasons and these reasons were very fundamental.

First he said it would be a moral burden for him to contest against his friend who is General Aliyu Mohammed Gusau who served as National Security Adviser, NSA and who has been a very long standing friend of his.  So he said he could not contest against him.

Second, he said Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, the brother to Shehu Musa Yar’Adua is like a brother to him too and he could not see himself contesting against either of these two men. Therefore, the best thing for him to do in 2006 was to pull out of the contest.

This time around, the scenario is a very different one from what obtained in 2006. We are already in the race, we have made it public. He has made his intentions known and we are going to market him to the Nigerian electorate and make sure that they see him for what he is. Babangida is a very sellable person and we intend to do just that.

Meanwhile, everything I have said is without prejudice to the fact that some people who go by the title activists or radical lawyers. They would say as much as they want to and they will try to say things for which they do not have evidence but that is not our concern.

Our interest and concern is the Nigerian electorate who are spread across 120,000 polling units of this country.  They are the ones on whom we base our trust.

The sellability of Babangida is actually the concern Nigerians have.  How sellable is he?  What would Babangida be coming out with that would be new; at least he served for eight years as head of state?

He served eight years as an unelected head of state of the Nigerian nation. You know even at the time he came, Nigerians were not at ease.

What he was able to achieve I have not seen a government that has surpassed that. Look, my brother, it is easy for people to run into and jump into conclusion about Babangida. It is easy to jump into and draw parallel between one government and the other and it is also easy for people to savage Babangida without facts at their disposal.

Perhaps those of us who have been trying to let people see him for what he is, our voices may have been lost in the mélange of the vocal few who see themselves as the be all and say all but thank God for recorded history, those same people are beginning to unravel.  It is understandable. But IBB having left the field some 17 years ago, and he has reflected that if given the opportunity to serve this country again, democratically elected as president, those ideas he is pushing now when practiced would push Nigerians to the next level of development.

Which issues?
Those issues are:  One, the issue of fiscal federalism is one whose idea has come to stay.  He is saying that there should be devolution of power and the people as members in the constituent components of this nation must have a say in how things are done.  He also believes that it is time for people at the state level not to wait for Abuja before they can begin to perform.  They can exploit their potentials and they can also exploit their opportunities without waiting for Abuja before they act.

But all of these, people are losing sight of because they feel Nigeria is one big entity that must be slaughtered from different areas. He is also talking about state police to the extent that it would complement the federal police.  There are certain cases that the federal police should not bother itself with.

When you make members of a community to be part of the policing of any area, they would do a far better job than when you just bring somebody from Borno State to come and be police boss in Shaki, that person would spend so much time trying to understand the area very well first. He’s also talking about the local governments which are not enjoying any autonomy because they are mere appendages of the state governments.

He believes that these people are also chief executives in their own rights and because they also presented themselves for elections with their manifestoes.  So the thing to do is to allow them deliver on the promises they made to the electorate in their respective local government areas. He is also talking about resource control.  He says let them control their resources but let them pay tax to the state or federal government depending on what the laws would stipulate as amended. He also believes that it is high time the electoral reforms that we’ve been talking about for so long take root.   He also believes that even if the annulment of June 12 was not a singular act, why can’t Nigerians borrow from the credibility which that election created for Nigerians?  At least, we have not been able to say that any other election has been more credible than the June 12, 1993 presidential elections, so why can’t we pick some of the ideals of that election and employ them for our development.  He sees all these ideas as Germaine to the success of Nigeria.

Okay, all that you have said are desirable and they are things Nigerians are looking forward to having but why should Nigerians believe a Babangida again?
They should believe him because Babangida is a believer in the country.  Number one, he is a nationalist and you can not say he is a tribalist or that he defers to this area more than this other one.  He is accessible to all parts of the country and he is also a man who, when he believes in a cause goes all out to pursue it.  People tend to assess IBB from afar but when they get to know him, their views change.  When I came closer to him I discovered that he is different.  People who were in pampers when this man was in power and who are graduates now would just regurgitate what they heard before about him without research or facts.

He is very honest about the oneness of Nigeria and he doesn’t want the clannish affiliations to the point where we begin to destroy one another.  For a man who married from Delta State is like preaching in the gospel of unity.


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