From MOSHOOD ADEBAYO:
Former military president, General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida yesterday gave a condition for any Nigerian who wishes to mount the presidential saddle in 2011, saying such a person must see true federalism as a critical issue.
Babangida who spoke in Abeokuta, Ogun State capital during the 54th birthday of the state Governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel said Nigeria as a nation had lived together for 50 years and the citizens should not look back.
The former president who was making his first public appearance in Abeokuta after the annulment of the historic June 12, 1993, presidential election said: “I believe that true federalism is the issue of this country. We have lived together for 50 years, there are a lot of things in Nigeria’s political system.
“We don’t have to make a distinction whether we run a parliamentary or presidential system or whether we call ourselves republic. Why can’t we look at Nigeria as a nation of 50 and try to know those things that create problems for us.?
“We don’t have to say government must do everything. Some of the best brains who are in Europe are Nigerians. So why can’t you use your brain thinking and brainstorm where the leadership should be able to provide.
‘’I believe that true federalism is the issue for this country. Many of us who are very close to 70 years are very proud that we are leaving Nigeria in safe hands. There are lots of things called settled issues in the country’s political system
“We don’t look back. Why clamouring whether we want to call ourselves republic and so on. Those are the issues that are settled.”
However, he expressed preference for federal system of government whereby the impact of governance could be easily felt by the people. His words: “I believe in small government than big government.”
While eulogising Daniel, Babangida said: “Daniel represents potential of the nation’s younger generation who truly has vision and sterling leadership qualities.” The former president told the gathering that he was attracted to Daniel based on the fact that he had domineering presence everywhere the governor goes.
‘’When he invited me for this occasion, I promised him that I will be here. My coming to Abeokuta is indeed homecoming, having been here 44 years ago. There is an established romance between me and OGD.
‘’I saw in him somebody that Adeniyi described as somebody that sees far beyond the present and I am glad I am proud of him.”
Rivers State Governor, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi who also spoke in the same vein lamented that the only Federal Government presence in the state was done during the military administration of Babangida.
“Nigeria is bereft of a productive economy. What we have is a government economy. And that is the fact that the rich want to be sure of who becomes the president or governor, because their existence depends on the condition of that government’s economy.”
He recalled how he got to power saying the grace of God and prayers saw him through.
The guest speaker at the ceremony, Dr. Don Kroah in his paper entitled: The Personalities, the Institutions and the Future of Democracy in Nigeria, noted that personality and the institution determine how exactly democracy will be practised.”
The founder and president of Reach Africa Now, while tracing Nigeria’s democratic experience since independence in 1960, submitted that the various personalities and institutions of the country had been deficient.
“Where the institutional roles and responsibilities as prescribed by any document such as the constitution are in line with the roles expected of the institution, but where wrong personalities are assigned to execute such roles, the consequence and effect are that the roles that the institutions are expected to perform are totally ignored,” he argued.
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