Former Military President, General Ibrahim Babangida, yesterday, joined the growing list of Nigerians, insisting that President Muhammadu Buhari should not seek re-election in 2019. Babangida, who reflected on the state of the nation in a statement titled “Towards a national rebirth,” said: “In the fullness of our present realities, we need to cooperate with President Muhammadu Buhari to complete his term of office on May 29, 2019 and collectively prepare the way for a new generation of leaders to assume the mantle of leadership of the country.”
He, however, emphasised that his advice does not mean that he is trying to deny the President his constitutional right, which allows him to seek for a second term, but took the position in national interest. “I do not intend to deny President Buhari his inalienable right to vote and be voted for, but there comes a time in the life of a nation, when personal ambition should not override national interest.
“This is the time for us to reinvent the will and tap into the resourcefulness of the younger generation, stimulate their entrepreneurial initiatives and provoke a conduce environment to grow national economy both at the micro and macro levels,” he said in the statement released by his spokesman, Prince Kassim Afegbua. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo had, on January 23, told Buhari to forget running for a second term.
He gave the advice in a special statement titled “The Way Out: A clarion call for Coalition for Nigeria Movement.” But, Babangida, who said that his statement was not an open letter to the President, but “a shared thought with fellow compatriots on the need to enthrone younger blood into the mainstream of our political leadership starting from 2019”, maintained that Nigeria needs a new breed of leadership with requisite capacity.
His words: “We have experimented with parliamentary and presidential systems of government amid military interregnum at various times of our national history. We have made some progress, but not good enough to situate us on the pedestal we so desirously crave for. “It is little wonder, therefore, that we need to deliberately provoke systems and models that will put paid to this recycling leadership experimentation to embrace new generational leadership evolution with the essential attributes of responsive, responsible and proactive leadership configuration to confront the several challenges that we presently face.
“In 2019 and beyond, we should come to a national consensus that we need new breed leadership with requisite capacity to manage our diversities and jump-start a process of launching the country on the super highway of technology- driven leadership in line with the dynamics of modern governance.
“It is short of saying enough of this analogue system. Let’s give way for digital leadership orientation with all the trappings of consultative, constructive, communicative, interactive and utility-driven approach where everyone has a role to play in the process of enthroning accountability and transparency in governance. “While offering this advice, I speak as a stakeholder, former president, concerned Nigerian and a patriot, who desires to see new paradigms in our shared commitment to get this country running.
While saying this also, I do not intend to deny President Buhari his inalienable right to vote and be voted for, but there comes a time in the life of a nation, when personal ambition should not override national interest. “This is the time for us to reinvent the will and tap into the resourcefulness of the younger generation, stimulate their entrepreneurial initiatives and provoke a conduce environment to grow national economy both at the micro and macro levels.” He added that the search for the new breed leadership must start now as the nation prepares for the 2019 general elections.
He said: “We truly need to reform the political system. And we must deliberately get fresh hands involved for improved participation… We need new ways and new approaches in our political order. We need a national rebirth. We need a rebranded Nigeria and rebranded politics. “The next election in 2019, therefore, presents us a unique opportunity to reinvent the will and provoke fresh leadership that would immediately begin the process of healing the wounds in the land and ensuring that the wishes and aspirations of the people are realised in building and sustaining national cohesion and consensus.
I pray the Almighty Allah grant us the gift of good life to witness that glorious dawn in 2019.” The former military leader expressed dissatisfaction with the performance of the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Government, saying “Modern leadership is not just about ‘fighting’ corruption, it is about plugging the leakages and building systems that will militate against corruption.” According to him, “When the ruling party campaigned with the change mantra, I had thought they would device new methods, provoke new initiatives and proffer new ways to addressing some of our developmental problems. By now, in line with her manifesto, one would have thought that the APC will give fillip to the idea of devolution of powers and tinker with processes that would strengthen and reform the various sectors of the economy.
“We are still experiencing huge infrastructural deficit across the country and one had thought the APC-led Federal Government would behave differently from their counterparts in previous administrations. I am hesitant to ask; where is the promised change?” The former military ruler threw his weight behind the restructuring of the country.
“Like I did state in my previous statement late last year, devolution of powers or restructuring is an idea whose time has come if we must be honest with ourselves. We need to critically address the issue and take informed positions based on the expectations of the people on how to make the union work better. Political parties should not exploit this as a decoy to woo voters because election time is here.
We need to begin the process of restructuring both in the letter and spirit of it. “For example, I still cannot reconcile why my state government would not be allowed to fix the Minna-Suleja road, simply because it is called Federal Government road, or why state governments cannot run their own policing system to support the Federal Police,” he said.
Babangida also decried the spate of killings across the country by some herdsmen, saying the pogrom in Benue State has not only left him wondering if truly this is the same country some of them fought to keep together, but has equally raised doubt on the capacity of the present government to handle with dispatch, security concerns that continue to threaten Nigeria. His words: “In the past few months, I have taken time to reflect on a number of issues plaguing the country. I get frightened by their dimensions.
I get worried by their colorations. I get perplexed by their gory themes. From Southern Kaduna to Taraba State, from Benue to Rivers, from Edo to Zamfara, it has been a theatre of blood with cake of crimson.“In Dansadau in Zamfara State recently, over 200 souls were wasted for no justifiable reason.
The pogrom in Benue State has left me wondering if truly this is the same country some of us fought to keep together. I am alarmed by the amount of blood-letting across the land. Nigeria is now being described as a land where blood flows like river, where tears have refused to dry up. Almost on a daily basis, we are both mourning and grieving, and often times left helpless by the sophistication of crimes.
“The unchecked activities of the herdsmen have continued to raise doubt on the capacity of this government to handle with dispatch, security concerns that continue to threaten our dear nation; suicide bombings, kidnappings, armed banditry, ethnic clashes and other divisive tendencies. We need to bring different actors to the roundtable. Government must generate platform to interact and dialogue on the issues with a view to finding permanent solutions to the crises.
“The festering nature of this crisis is an inelegant testimony to the sharp divisions and polarizations that exist across the country. For example, this is not the first time herdsmen engage in pastoral nomadism, but the anger in the land is suggestive of the absence of mutual love and togetherness that once defined our nationality.
“We must collectively rise up to the occasion and do something urgently to arrest this drift. If left unchecked, it portends danger to our collective existence as one nation bound by common destiny; and may snowball into another internecine warfare that would not be good for nation-building.”