Ahead of the 2023 election, the former military president, Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, has called on Nigerians to consider merit, acceptability, qualification and belief of who the next president of the country will be.
Babangida, who made the call in an interview on Arise TV beamed from his Minna country home on Friday, also said that democracy does not align with zoning or power shift, a reference to the agitation for the emergence of a president of southern extraction in 2023.
“We have to make a choice either we want to practice democracy the way it should be practiced or the way it is being practiced or we define democracy according to our own whims and caprices
“If we are going to do it the way it is done all over the world you allow the process to continue, it is through the process that you will be able to come up with a candidate that will lead the country”, he declared.
He emphasized that the electorate should know the “person, his qualifications his beliefs” before such a person is voted to lead the country “regardless of where he comes from.”
The retire army general further said no person can make Nigeria a one party state, insisting however that two party system of government is good for the country.
“Two parties are still the best for this country. With about 70 parties registered nobody is talking about the others, only APC and PDP.
“Nigerians will not allow that (one party state) to happen, they will make so much noise that whoever will attempt to do it will not do it; this is the good thing about this country. They will demonstrate; they will engage you in all sorts of things so as not to do the wrong thing. Nigeria can do well with a two party system,” he added.
He also stated that he had started visualising a good Nigerian leader.
“That is, a person, who travels across the country and has a friend virtually everywhere he travels to and he knows at least one person that he can communicate with,” Babangida said.
“That is a person, who is very versed in economics and is also a good politician, who should be able to talk to Nigerians and so on. I have seen one, or two or three of such persons already in his sixties.”
On corruption in the country, Babangida said it is worse in President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration than when he (Babangida) was in government.
Babangida, who served as head of state between 1985 and 1993, said his administration was a saint compared to what is happening now.
He said while he moved against a former military governor who embezzled N313, 000, those who stole billions are walking freely.
Asked if he agreed with those who said his government was very corrupt, Babangida said: “But what’s happening now is worse than when we were in power… we are saints when compared with that.”
He said he sacked a governor during his time for corruption involving money less than N300.
He said Nigeria needs a leader that will talk to the people and not talk on top of the people.
“If you get a good leadership that links with the people and tries to talk with the people; not talking on top of the people, then we would be okay,” Babangida said.
Commenting on insecurity that has plagued the country, Babangida said banditry and kidnapping had bedeviled Nigeria because the military which has the capability to contain the menace is overstretched and works with old-fashioned equipment.
Besides, he said the leadership of the force must be acceptable to everyone involved in the fight against banditry and other crimes in the country.
However, Babangida expressed his opposition to the disobedience of court’s orders by agents of government, especially operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS).
“Nobody should disobey lawful orders in a democracy,” he added.
On separatist agitations across the country, he said such move could be assuaged if the leadership makes the people to go into more gainful ventures and states made to manage their resources for the development of the states and the country.
On local government autonomy, Babangida opposed any attempt by governor’s to erode the powers of the local government chairmen since they are also elected by the people.