By Laja Thomas
THE IBB Campaign
Organisation National Women Leader, Chief (Mrs) Remi Adikwu-Bakare spoke with reporters in Lagos on the ambition of former Military President Ibrahim Babangida for the Presidency in 2011. Excerpts:
Could you shed light on the activities of the women wing of the IBB Campaign Organisation?
We started by reminding the women about the Better Life for Rural Women which the late First Lady, Mrs. Maryam Babangida, initiated. A large number of women came on their own to say that they wanted to be part of the campaign, to say thank you to the late First Lady. I have been able to identify my zonal women leaders in the six geo-political zones of the federation.
We have got state women coordinators and leaders for the IBB Campaign Organisation, who would in turn go to the senatorial districts and local governments to mobilise women. We are planning a tour of the geo-political zones to sensitise women to the viability of the IBB Project.
What are the challenges involved in selling IBB’s candidature to Nigerians?
There are so many challenges, but we can surmount them. There are many people who like to identify, but because of what they benefit from the present government, the contracts and the fear of losing face with the state governments, they are not identifying in the open.
There is hunger in the land and they believe that the President is still in control. That does not mean that there no people who are following IBB with boldness because they believe him. They want to go along with him.
We have a whole multitude following us. Those little challenges are there and they are the bane of our democracy today. People just want to be part of the incumbent, whether good or bad. It is unfortunate.
What is the basis for the IBB challenge?
I have told you. Incumbency is the major thing. Jonathan is there and some people are having their three square meals through that and some people are hoping to get their three square meals through that. That is the major challenge.
There is no candidate that is on the field today that will be able to outwit us.
Why are you convinced that IBB is good for the job or why do you think that he should be given a chance again?
I see this man as the only man that can do four years. He is the man that can serve only four years and leave. He is going to be 70. People have accused him of so many things. He is coming back to play a civilian role.
If you accuse a military man of killing, he is trained to do so. But as a civilian, he is coming back to show that, on the things he had been accused as a soldier, he can do better as a civilian. Experience counts. He had been through the length and breath of this country. He is not just making friends because he wants to be the President of the country, like other aspirants are doing.
He has a network outside this country.
When he was the President, there were a lot of business activities going on. We did not depend solely on the oil industry. My friends and I used to export things to earn foreign exchange. Now, nobody is talking about encouraging small scale export. It was during his time that we had so many institutions put in place that made our business more robust.
To me, I give him pass mark. He assembled the best brains in the country to work with him. People accusing him of bad governance were all part of his government at that time. So, I sincerely believe in him and his programmes. There will be good business climate again, qualitative education , women empowerment. He had promised equity in gender representation in government, both elective and appointive. I sincerely believe that Babangida is the best man for the job
Zoning advocates are pushing for a Northern consensus candidate. Is there a likelihood of IBB emerging as the beneficiary?
I see that happening. The whole process is on. He is the best, most experienced. Those who love IBB love him with a passion. The few that tend to dislike him do so with a passion also. When, you go to the grassroots, they will tell you that they fared better under him. We are mobilising the grassroots.
Don’t you see his rivals from his zone; Atiku, Gusau and Saraki, actually reducing his chance at the primary?
I don’t see them reducing his chance. Which Southerner has come up in the PDP? None. They know that there is a written agreement. It is written. You don’t really say that a social contract among people is unconstitutional. You don’t refer to the constitution of the country at all times. For example, the Lions Club has its constitution. All other clubs have their constitution.
The members abide by their constitution. In some clubs, there is male membership only, yet the constitution supports free association. But women would not be brought in because of that. It is the same in the PDP.