By Ibrahim Hassan-Wuyo
Former Military President, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, IBB, (rtd) has said that compared to the current level of corruption in Nigeria, they were saints during his military regime.
Babangida spoke in an interview with Trust TV monitored by Vanguard on Sunday.
He said, “I sacked a governor for misappropriating N300,000. Now there are people — we read in the papers, thank God there are papers to read and social media and so on— who steal N2 billion, N3 billion and nobody is saying they are corrupt; only us because we are military, that is all.
“I still maintain that we are saints if you compare somebody who is accused of stealing N3 billion to one with N300,000; then I think we are saints.”
On why the battle against corruption was so difficult, he said: “I sold an idea but because it came from me, nobody likes it, nobody will like to hear it:
“Identify areas of corruption and attack them from the source. I read in one of the newspapers where a judge was complaining that they are not well remunerated by the public and that is a sure source of corruption.
“Wherever you have a system where you have a lot of control there will be corruption.
“So what did we try to do? We got government not to be involved in things like production.
“Anything to do with ‘I have to come to you and you will always think you are doing me a favour, so maybe I should reciprocate it’; that is the sort of thing.
“And that is why we introduced freeing the economy; you don’t need a licence to be graded Grade A; your groundnut or cocoa or cotton or whatever it is.
“You don’t need to go to the Central Bank or to go to banks to get foreign exchange.
“There are Bureaux de Change. They set it up in market areas, where you can easily go and get it.
“So the sources of corruption has to be identified and attacked,” he said.
The Minna-born General recalled that his economic policy of liberalisation and government stepping back from the economy were emulated by Yar’Adua and Obasanjo.
He said they did and the current regime was also doing it even though in a different name, “but it is all the same concept,” he noted.