former military dictator, Ibrahim Babangida, says Nigerians no longer take him seriously because he annulled the June 12, 1993 Presidential election adjudged as the most credible election in the history of Nigeria.
Babangida said this during a programme on Channels Television titled, ‘Roadmap 2019’ on Monday.
When asked to explain further if it was true that people dismissed his words because of the annulment of June 12 election, he said, “That is right. They say, ‘he cancelled the freest election in the history but he annulled it’ but nobody gives me credit for conducting the freest election in the country.”
The former maximum ruler said he was hopeful that the younger generation would understand why he annulled the election.
He added, “We try to rationalise why we did what we did but nobody is prepared to listen to us. So, it is a matter of time. One day, the younger generation will say they have heard one side and want to hear the other side of the story.
“Maybe by then we will have a better society that is prepared; that is well-informed of what happened within a period of their existence. They will then be able to say this is the true story.”
When asked if he would publish his biography soon to tell his story, Babangida said nobody would read it because of his past.
Babangida said no one had ever reflected the fact that he and the acclaimed winner of the election, MKO Abiola, were friends before and after the annulment.
When asked if he would publish his biography, he said, “I don’t know. People may not read it because it is coming from a dictator. A lot will say ‘he is the one who cancelled June 12 and that will kill everything that I have to talk about.
“I hope that one day God will spare my life so that I can discuss it because I still believe people don’t get what we were trying to do. Nobody has ever sat down to say the two personalities are friends, what went wrong.
“I have never seen anybody write about this to try to give people another version of things. I knew his feelings and he knew my own. We even talked about it during the crisis itself.”
IBB also said the need for young Nigerians to lead the country cannot be over-emphasised.
The elder statesman, however, noted that any person interested in the seat of power must possess the four distinct qualities of a good leader.
“I want to see a young man who has a vision of a man called Obafemi Awolowo; I want to see a young man who has the charisma of a man called the Sardauna of Sokoto, Ahmadu Bello; I want to see a young man who has the eloquence and education and powers of Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe; and I want to see a young man who has convictions like General (Olusegun) Obasanjo,” Babangida added.
He further decried the registering of more political parties by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), with about 300 days to the polls.
“If these two are not options, then somebody should be sitting down to think about what to do. Surely not to add more 90 political parties, but a constructive outfit and that is durable because we have a free press.
“I haven’t seen arguments why these two are not options; I may have my own opinion but I think the arguments have not been well articulated,” he noted.
Reacting to the recent herdsmen killings in the country, General Babangida recalled the era of the civil war and declared that the unity of Nigeria remained non-negotiable.
Babangida said, “during the war of national unity, at least two or three million people have lost their lives in the course of keeping the country one; are we as a people fair to those who put down their lives so that we remain united?”
“So I think to be fair to them, we have no option but to accept what they have done because they sacrificed their lives for us to remain united – we shouldn’t negotiate anything to the unity,” he added.