Youth groups, others pooh-pooh Babangida
By Akpo Esajere (Lagos) Adamu Abuh (Kano), Jon-Abba Ogbodo, Terhemba Daka (Abuja) and Alemma Ozoriuva Aliu (Benin City)
A GALE of criticisms yesterday trailed former military President Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida's reported claim in an interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) at the weekend that Nigeria's new generation was incapable of steering the ship of state.
The barrage of criticisms came from various groups and other eminent Nigerians who described him as short-sighted and his comments highly unpatriotic and provocative.
Leading the attack on the erstwhile military head of state was a group of young professionals under the aegis of Arise Nigeria. In a statement issued in Abuja yesterday and signed by its Publicity Secretary, Ishaq Shehu, the group called on Babangida to withdraw from the 2010 presidential race because he has displayed an embarrassing ignorance of world affairs.
It also said Babangida not only abused upwardly mobile professionals who have contributed immensely to the development of Nigeria but that he also exhibited an embarrassing ignorance of modern governance.
Also, former member of the House of Representatives between 2003 and 2007, Nasiru Garba Dantiye, has advised the erstwhile Military President to drop his 2011 presidential ambition, saying he stands no chance of being voted for in a free and fair election based on his antecedents.
Dantiye, who spoke with The Guardian yesterday, recalled that Babangida inflicted hardship on Nigerians while in office, which dire situation remains till today, stressing that no reasonable Nigerian will cast his vote for Babangida.
Also, a member of the House of Representatives, Dino Melaye has faulted Babangida over a statement credited to the former military president to the effect that young Nigerians cannot run the country.
In a statement issued yesterday in Abuja Melaye, who represents Kabba/Bunu/Ijumu Federal Constituency, Kogi State, said Babangida's comment was an insult on the younger generation of Nigerians, including the former military president's children.
Babangida reportedly granted an interview to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC ) during which he allegedly said nobody among the younger generation of Nigerians could govern Nigeria, hence his decision to return to Aso Rock.
"We have seen signs that they are not capable of leading this country and so we feel we should help them. May be it is because they were not given the proper education. I have spent 17 years outside office, but a country like Nigeria cannot be ruled by people without experience,'' the former military president was quoted to have said.
Arise Nigeria went on: "Babangida was quoted as saying President Obama of the USA was experienced to be American President because he was a member of a state assembly, the American House of Representatives and the Senate before contesting as president.
"This false account of Obama's trajectory to the American presidency is an embarrassment for a man who wants to be Nigeria's president. An average follower of American contemporary politics knows that Obama was elected into, and served in the Illinois State Senate 1997-2004; elected as a Democrat to the U.S. Senate in 2004, and served from January 3, 2005, to November 16, 2008, when he resigned from office, having been elected president; elected as the 44th President of the United States on November 4, 2008, and was inaugurated on January 20, 2009.
"Obama was never a member of the American House of Representatives as claimed by Babangida. This ignorance has only demonstrated that Babangida is out of touch with contemporary issues and lacks the mental alertness to be president of Nigeria at this challenging time. Babangida's discussion on the economy particularly on the exchange rate of the Naira shows a distressing lack of understanding of a modern economy and the dynamics that characterise it.
"It is also embarrassing that an aspiring presidential candidate will condemn a whole generation of Nigerian youths as incompetent of administering the country. As young professionals who have devoted our energy, resources and competences to the development of Nigeria, we make bold to say that Nigeria is blessed with so many youths who can successfully manage the affairs of the country. We state without any fear of contradiction that Nigerian youths have excelled in governance, business, sports, academia, technology, the sciences and indeed, every aspect of human endeavors to govern Nigeria."
It added: "While we are not advocating that elders in the country should vacate the scene for youths, we deplore the attempt by Babangida to condemn the entire generation of Nigerian youths in the desperate and self-serving attempt to justify his ridiculous entry into the presidential race."
On his part, Dantiye said: "How can any responsible Nigeria vote for Babangida as President? By indicating his interest to contest, he is simply telling us that he is coming to finish his unfinished business; he is coming to squander our external reserve that he depleted to less than $2 billion. Now he knows that it has been shored up to about $48 billion; he wants to finish the remaining.
"The beginning of Nigeria's problem was when he (Babangida) introduced the Structural Adjustment Program (SAP). I was an accountant then, the value of the naira to dollar was 75kobo. Now you have to spare N150 to get a Dollar, and how are we going to develop? How are we going to be a great nation? How are we going to achieve Vision 20; 2020?"
The former federal lawmaker explained that Nigerians need a patriotic and selfless person to steer the affairs of the country, pointing out that a credible and progressive thinking Nigerian cannot vote for Babangida for any reason.
According to him, "many Nigerians will go on exile if the retired general emerged as the President of this country because his eight years rule only helped in killing the economy and people of Nigeria.
"Unless he is telling us he is going to rule while all Nigerians will depart and leave the country for him, but I am telling you if we are all serious, nobody is going to vote for him."
Melaye wrote: "The statement credited to Gen. Babangida that the younger generation can't rule Nigeria has a proportional relationship with the retardation associated with Babangida's age whose disparity between his official and real age is now manifesting.
"This negative sweeping statement against my generation, a more intellectually advanced generation, more versatile generation, a generation competing with the technological demands of recent times, a deprived generation, deprived by gerontocratic rulers, I mean the Babangidas of this world.
"This generation so insulted by IBB is the generation of his son Mohammed. It is also the generation of achievers like Obama, Fashola and others."
The lawmaker claimed that Babangida ran away from the Presidential Villa when democratic forces descended on him, stressing that he should not nurse the ambition of ruling in a democracy.
Melaye said: "The questions to ask this failed leader is how old he was 25 years ago when he forcibly became the president of an oppressed nation? How come a general ran away from war by unceremoniously moving out of the Villa and succumbing to the democratic and progressive forces who waged a holy war against his elongation and continued stay in office?
"A coward who hurriedly packaged an interim government and vamoosed, why are you (an anti-democratic element) now interested in assessing democratic powers by creating generational apathy and age cleansing?
"We cannot experience the satanic manifestations of the Babangida era again! Is it SAP or outrageous killings of veterans? May the souls of Dele Giwa, Mamman Vatsa and others not allow this to happen.
"My generation has hope and faith in Nigeria and Nigerians. The battle to stop Babangida and his likes is a battle of no retreat no surrender. No army of retired and expired military officers and politicians will bring back sad memories in Nigeria."
The above article was culled from The Guardian Newspapers of Nigeria...