“That is a person, who is very versed in economics and is also a good politician, who should be able to talk to Nigerians and so on. I have seen one, or two or three of such persons already in his sixties. I believe so if we can get him.”
Those were the major qualities the new Nigerian President must possess, former Military President, Ibrahim Babangida, said on Friday, as the country prepares to elect another leader to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari, who was incidentally shoved aside close to 40 years ago.
Babangida, who spoke against the backdrop of criticisms that Buhari was running a provincial government, favouring in the main, his ethnic Fulani and Muslim religion members, said however that he had actually identified “one or two” Nigerians with such qualities.
He said: “If you get a good leadership that links with the people and tries to talk with the people; not talking on top of the people, then we would be okay
“I have started visualising a good Nigerian leader. That is, a person who travels across the country and has a friend virtually everywhere he travels to, and he knows at least one person that he can communicate with. Competence above ethnicity should be of utmost importance when choosing the next President.
“Either we want to practise democracy the way it should be practised or we define democracy on our own whims and caprices. If we are going to do it the way it is done all over the world, you allow the process to continue.
“It is through the process that you will come up with a candidate that will rule the country. His beliefs and qualifications should be considered before he throws his hat into the ring, regardless of where he comes from.”
Babangida, described himself as a “saint” compared to Buhari in terms of corruption, saying: “Well, on that, you can’t compare it with the facts on the ground now. You can say it. From what I read, from analysis, I think we are saints when compared to what is happening under a democratic dispensation.
“I sacked a Governor for misappropriating less than N313,000. Today, those who have stolen billions and are in court are now parading themselves on the streets. Who else is better in fighting corruption?”
The former military leader, whose eight years in government brokered a transition government that ended in the fiasco of the June 12, 1993 election, won by business mogul, Moshood Kashimawo Olawale (MKO) Abiola, also falted politicians for trying to undermine Nigeria’s unity.
“Till today, unfortunately, the political class are not really into this seriously and say how do we build a nation,” Babangida, said, while weighing in on the contentious debate about resource control, saying, Nigerian people should be given more control over their affairs and resources.
He said: “I believe you should give people more control over their affairs, over their resources. There is too much control in the way the economy is being run. We should open it further. If we do that, I think we will go far. But mention it to some people in this country, but mention it to a lot of people in this country and somebody will cut off your head.”