Posted by By Louis Achi on
Former military president, General Ibrahim Baban-gida (rtd) has spoken of an egalitarian Nigerian society in the years ahead and asked citizens to have what he called infinte hope and faith in the country.
Former military president, General Ibrahim Babangida (rtd) has spoken of an egalitarian Nigerian society in the years ahead and asked citizens to have what he called infinte hope and faith in the country.
Speaking to THISDAY in Minna, Niger State during the week, Babangida, who celebrated his 63rd birthday, also appealed to Nigerians not to despair as the nation's political wheel was rolling progressively.
He told THISDAY that contrary to lingering fears about the country's still far-off 2007 political transition, against the background of the strident controversy over which zone produces the next president and other related sundry issues, Nigeria would navigate to that political milestone safely.
Babangida held that the uniqueness of Nigeria and the resilience of its people were factors that would enable it transcend whatever difficulties or self doubt being haboured by some people and transit safely and successfully.
His words: "Quite frankly I don't see any dangers. Because one thing is unique about this country which every one should appreciate. When a visitor comes to Nigeria, from what he hears and reads, he will feel it will break any minute.
"But somehow God has been kind and we have been resilient and have always overcome this problem. And I think the same thing is going to happen. We will overcome it and then we will have a strong country."
Echoing the political insight of late Ahmadu Bello, Babangida also canvassed the mutual recognition of our differences as Nigerians.
He added that, "What is important is to first of all accept that differences exist," adding "we must also strive to ensure that the knowledge that we have differences should guide us in how best we could live together."
Observing that these differences were not new, he stated that "we should be able now, knowing there are differences in religion, culture and whatever, still be united. We need a country. We need to be united, work and live together irrespective of religion or tribe, for the country to move forward."
Commenting on the troubling incidence of ethnic nationalism in Nigeria, Babangida held that the existence of multiple ethnic nationalities does not by itself necessarily constitute a problem or an issue with political consequences. His words: "This situation alters in the process of social change or modernisation when the interest of ethnic groups become elevated to the political realm."
Restating the need to appreciate that Nigeria's cultural and social diversity constitutes an asset rather than a liability, Babangida held that purposeful leadership could tackle the challenges which multi-ethnic nationalism poses for governance.
"The task before leadership at all levels of governance is the use to which government apparatus and public resources are ordered around public policy in order to reduce the destabilizing dimensions of multi-ethnic nationalities, and the forging of a wholesome Nigerian state within the federation," he further noted.
Noting further that one must expect that in a country like Nigeria with its diverse nature there was bound to exist such tensions, he stated that "Ethnicity, or ethnic nationalism has historically being part and parcel of the political process, economy and statecraft of Nigeria.
"I recall this gave rise to the colonial investigatory committee usually referred to as the Willink Commission, which became the precursor of the multiple creations of sub-system state in the country between 1963 and 1996."
Babangida who looked strong and healthy at 63, however, firmly declined to field questions on some issues like June 12, $12 billion oil windfall, Dele Giwa's death and several other areas of subsisting controversy, stating that these have been over flogged and he had already spoken much on them.
In his message to Nigeria on his birthday, he canvassed respect for each others' rights and freedom. His words: "I think the pre-requisite is living in peace and harmony and to respect each others rights and freedom. Again to try and work together as a people towards uplifting the standard of living of our various communities."