By Kenneth Ehigiator
LAGOSâ€”Former Military President, General Ibrahim Babangida, yesterday, urged the Federal Government to name a public institution after the late winner of the June 12, 1993 presidentialÂ election, BasorunÂ Moshood Abiola, to immortalise him.
He, however, said such immortalisation should revolve only around things that have to do with democracy.
Babangida, who spoke with newsmen at the Presidential Wing of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, shortly after arriving Lagos from Minna, commended the government for recognising Abiola as the symbol of the countryâ€™s current democratic dispensation.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo had noted during his tenure as president, that Abiola was not the symbol of Nigeriaâ€™s democracy when the process set off May 29, 1999.
But Babangida said talks of the nationâ€™s democracy would not be complete if the place of Abiola was not given its pride of place.
â€œI think it is good at long last somebody is trying to acknowledge the efforts of Chief M. K. O. Abiola. We cannot deny him the fact that he fought for democracy and I am glad that the government is accepting it.
â€œAlso, I want to see a situation whereby he will be immortalised as a person who fought for democracy in this country.â€
On how he should be immortalised, Babangida said â€œwell, there are so many things but I will leave that to government.
â€œ I want to see, may be an institution named after him that talks only about democracy.That is the most enduring legacy we can give MKO.â€
On calls by Alhaji Yusuf Maitama Sule that he (IBB) and ex-Head of State, General Muhammadu Buhari, should quit the political stage and not contest the presidential election, IBB said he (Sule) was entitled to his opinion, stressing that the 150 million Nigerians also have their different views on the matter.
â€œThis is democracy.You may have 150 million opinions. I have my own opinion and he has his own, you cannot deny him,â€ he added.
Babangida was evasive of his presidential bid, saying simply â€œthe time has not come; when we get to the bridge we will cross it.â€
He said the number of political parties in the country at the moment was unwieldy, and noted that it should be reduced to five.
According to him, the five platforms should be enough for Nigerians to express their freedom of association and political contest.
He said: â€œI am not a believer of 51 parties; the smaller the better for democracy, then everybody will have a place to be accommodated. But you see, there are so many little ones that everybody move toward the winning party.
â€œSo, you find, we are more or less running. I think it is better for this country to run a manageable party size of three, four or five.â€