Former Military President, Ibrahim Babangida’s call for a restructured Nigeria has received the support of more prominent Nigerians who said the general must have seen the dangers ahead if the country continues treading the current path.
One of the delegates to the 2014 National Conference and a former National President, Igbo Think Tank, Aka Ikenga, Chief Goddy Uwazurike said Babangida having being part of several processes that have brought about changes of government in Nigeria and having also been at the helm of affairs for eight years, must have seen it and understood it all.
He said for Babangida to have voiced out at this critical moment means he must have seen things that ordinary eyes could not see. “As a retired military general and now an elder statesman by virtue of his age and experiences and a former Head of State I believe he understand the import of what he said.”
According to Nwazurike, “Nigeria urgently needed to be restructured. I wonder what those who are in power today, but were champions and agitators of restructuring yesterday saw that is making them shy away from what they championed when they were not in government. They should explain to Nigerians what has changed between 2013 and now that made them to see restructuring as something Nigeria does not need?”
When asked why Babangida didn’t restructure the country when he was in power, Nwazurike, who is also a lawyer said, “We need ourselves because the former military dictator must have seen it all before coming out. He must have foreseen some danger ahead and if Nigeria fails to restructure then we are making a big mistake. This is not the time to start questioning why he didn’t restructure Nigeria when he was in power but to look at the important of what he has said and the urgency it requires.”
Nwazurike also commended Babangida over his call for state police, saying: “I don’t think the former Head of State made a mistake or was trying to play politics because I believed he has seen it all. The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) promised to restructure in it manifestoes.”
Also supporting Babangida’s call for restructuring, the National Coordinator, Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), Otunba Gani Adams said those who are against restructuring of Nigeria at this period are its real enemies. I will suggest that Nigerians should start cursing and even stone them.
He noted that for someone like Babangida to have came out and embraced restructuring “then those who don’t support it are parts of those that put us in hardship.
“Even when President Muhammadu Buhari was in good state of health and running about 42 ministries and over 100 parastatals, how many of these was he able to monitor effectively? Truly he decries corruption, is it the same philosophy with those running the government with him. What we are saying is that the centre should be giving limited job load while power should be devolved to the states and regions.
‘This is the only way our progress could be guaranteed. We definitely have to go back to restructuring. The 1963 Republican Constitution is better for the country to move forward and we gained our independence on the basis of regionalism.”
Adams, who was also a delegate at the 2014 National Conference, added, “what we agreed at the conference is that power should be devolved to the regions or zones otherwise I don’t know what will happen to this country in the next four years if we continue like this. If those who want restructuring are frustrated or denied they may be left with no other choice than to secede.”
Also corroborating Babangida’s argument, a former governorship aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Owolabi Salis said there could nothing better for this nation other than the position held by the former military leader that Nigeria be restructured arguing, “It will give everyone a sense of belonging.”
He also aligned with former leader on the issue of the devolution of more powers to the states, adding that the issue of creation of state police, as advocated by Babangida, in view of the incessant killings and insecurity around the country, is long overdue.
According to him, “There is no justification whatsoever in the fear that governors will use state police to their political advantage. In advanced nations, state police has been effective in tackling the issue of insecurity. Babangida’s proposal was in line with my political philosophy, the Advance Action Alliance (AAA), where we advocates diversity-based democracy.”
Although, former Minority Leader in the Senate, Dr. Olurunimbe Mamora expressed reservations over Babangida’s position, “since the former leader has the best of opportunity to reform the country as a military leader but failed,” he said “that notwithstanding, it is better late than never.”
While he discouraged the call for secession, Mamora said there is the need to go back to the recommendations of past conferences to fashion out the best means to reform Nigeria, particularly in conformity to the First Republican Constitution.