Corruption: We’re saints compared to what’s happening now – IBB

…Says corruption worse now than in our time

…I once sacked a governor for misappropriating N313,000

…There would have been a violent coup if June 12 was not annulled

…Says insecurity is problem of leadership

…Asks DSS to obey court orders

…As Nigerians react

ABUJA – Former military President, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, IBB has said that the corruption index in the country is worse and more pervasive at the moment than what it was like in his time in power. He said they could be likened to saints compared to is happening now.

IBB was a military leader who ruled Nigeria from 1985, when he staged a palace coup that ousted General Muhammadu Buhari, the current President of Nigeria from office, to 1993 shortly after he annulled June 12 Presidential election that produced late MKO Abiola as the winner.

IBB spoke to Arise Television on Friday during its breakfast programme “Morning Show” to mark his 80th birthday anniversary which comes up on the 27th of this month.

He recalled sacking an unnamed governor during his regime for misappropriating N313,000, an amount which could in the present times be described as paltry.

The former military President said that it was in the place of the opposition political party and Nigerians at large to assess the government of All Progressives Congress, APC on its campaign promises especially on the anti-corruption fight.

Reacting to a claim during the interview that corruption was regarded as very pervasive during his administration, Babangida said: “You can’t compare it with the facts on the ground now. From what I read, from the analyses, I think we are saints when compared to what is happening under a democratic dispensation. I sacked a governor of a state 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?”

On assessment of APC govt

“APC made promises on three planks; Nigerians voted for them on the three planks: economy, corruption and security. So, it is for Nigerians to decide, have these been met? I will rather wait and see how other Nigerians will react. If they convince me that they (the government) didn’t succeed in these and they show me proofs, I will go for them.”

On the kind of president Nigeria needs in 2023, IBB detailed the qualifications of the persons who should aspire to lead the country in 2023.

On zoning the Presidency amongst the regions in the country he said: “You allow the process to continue but it’s through the process that you will be able to come out with a candidate that will lead the country. His qualifications, his beliefs should be known to Nigerians before somebody ever throws his hat into the ring regardless of where he comes from.

Idea of zoning

“Whether we do it now or we don’t, a time will come when somebody will emerge in this country, (whether) he is from Okpela or from Minna, the thing is that everybody knows him, everybody tends to accept what he believes in and then, if he throws his hat, and you say, yes, I have heard that name before. Why not? I have started visualizing a good Nigerian leader.

A person who travels in this country and has friends virtually everywhere he travels to. He knows at least one person that he can communicate with. A person who is very vast in economic development and a good politician who should be able to talk to Nigerians. I have seen one or two or three already who are in their 60s”, the former military leader said.

Annulment of June 12 election

Babangida also revealed that if he had not annulled the June 12 1993 presidential election, a coup d’etat would have occurred. He said “You want me to be honest with you? If it had materialized, there would have been a coup d’etat which would have been violent. That’s all I can confirm. It didn’t happen. That’s the engineering, the maradonic way we handled you guys in the society. But that could have given room for more instability in the country”. He said the pressure was from both within the military and outside the military. “The military can do it because they have the weapons to do it, and others (civil society groups) can use agitation,” Babangida said.

Recall that he was called the “Evil genus”, and Maradona but the said the names came from the media and the society.

“I never called myself evil genius. The media did. Maradona, that’s a very good thing about the Nigerian media, about the Nigerian people. You have to anticipate them. They call me evil. I marvel at it that. I say it’s a contradiction. You can’t be evil and then be a genius. Maradona, again, I got it from the definition of the media which means deft political moves. That’s what the media described it.”

Lingering insecurity caused by bad leadership

IBB further said that the lingering insecurity problem in Nigeria was caused by bad leadership.

“The problem is leadership. There is a disconnect between the leadership and the followership. When people related with each other at various leadership levels and talk about the community, the state and federation, then, we will not have problem whatsoever. We don’t have core values in the country that everybody defends all the time. You are a Nigerian and this is what you defend and anything short of that, it is not going to be acceptable. When we were in the military, we talked about certain issues about Nigeria: the unity of Nigeria as far as we were concerned was a settled issue, presidentialism was a settled issue. Free market economy, not socialism was a settled issue. The Federation itself was also a settled issue. No body will come and say that Nigeria was no longer a federation or something”, he said.

On restructuring, he said, “We decided to be one about 51 years ago and we have been in that position for the last 51 years. Why should we keep on repeating it? You can have not less than 100 conferences in this country that Nigerians themselves sat down and talked about how to remain one, how to work with the federating units, operate locally and so on. I think, there are issues we shouldn’t be talking about now.

We should be talking about how to strengthen what we agreed upon. If we agreed that we are going to be a united Nigeria since 51 years ago, we should now be talking on how to strengthen that unity. If we are going to have federating units, we should now be talking about how to strengthen it. If we are talking about the local government whether they should have free funds, govern themselves, we should be talking on how this could be achieved. It is talkshop. That’s what it is. You went to the shop, you talked and then came home and abandoned it.

And then, somebody says oh we need that conference. Again, it’s been done. Political Bureau has laid down everything. But I think the tyranny of the elites is what is the main problem. The way out is that the leadership should understand Nigeria and Nigerians. Restructuring means different things to different people. We don’t have a common interpretation. That’s the first basic problem we are going to have. We have defined it. Give the people from the lowest level to the highest level opportunity to participate on how they are governed or in governance.

On agitations

“It is always good to agitate but because there is this belief that this country should be one, when they make the noise, they find out that it won’t get support because Nigerians generally don’t believe on anything that will disturb their piece of mind. They wouldn’t do it.

DSS must obey court orders

“I think they are fairly well trained and as far as flouting court orders is concerned, I don’t think it is the right thing for them to do. They should obey court orders. That’s why we ought to have strong institutions that obey the due process. I don’t share their flouting of court orders at all.”

Nigerians react

Meanwhile, Nigerians have reacted to Babangida’s claim that corruption is worse under the present civilian dispensation compared to the period he was in power. While many agreed with the former ruler that corruption is worse at present they however argued that corruption was prominent in the military era.

Military laid foundation for corruption—ADF, COASYL

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, Mike Ahamba, in his reaction said,”on corruption they were saints in his time compared with what is happening now.”

Also speaking the leader of the Coalition of Southeast Youths Leaders, COASYL, Goodluck Ibem said: “I agree with IBB that the corruption level is higher now compared to that of their time, he is not far from the truth. But may I remind him that it was the military that laid the foundation of the corruption we are seeing now. However, looking at it now, you can see that the civilians have overtaken the military in terms of corruption.”

Igbo elite body Alaigbo Development Foundation, ADF, in its reaction said: “the fact remains that IBB’s regime laid the foundation for the capitalist liberalisation policies in Nigeria. The privatisation of industries and devaluation of the currency were started by IBB. He was no doubt a charismatic leader.

The National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, the Pan Yoruba socio-political organisation, Comrade Jare Ajayi said that on the face of it, the assertion by the former military president on corruption ‘is absolutely correct’. Ajayi however added that the foundation for monumental corruption was exacerbated by military administrations.

“So if one looks at the matter from that point one would be tempted to say that he was not competent to pass judgment in that respect. But doing so would be tantamount to our excusing the monumental corruption going on presently. For example, a national newspaper of this Friday published a story of several billions of Naira government has been spending on the Turn Around Maintenance of the refineries that have been moribund for years.

The money President just approved for the purpose was greater than the total capital for education or health for the past years, according to the report. Money disappeared yet no barrels of fuel were refined for the benefits of Nigerians. The most pitiable aspect of this is that nobody is being sanctioned for this indefensible and disgraceful waste. Babangida was right.The challenge for the present administration now is to make good its promises of stamping out corruption in our land”.

Also reacting, the General Secretary of Afenifere, Chief Sola Ebiseni said, “it is no gain saying the fact that the present administration has made saints of all previous administrations in every aspect of governance.

The Buhari government has failed, even in the areas of his promises to Nigerians on security, economy and anti corruption. Nigeria has been rendered a failed state in its obvious inability to secure life and property. The Babangida administration cannot be accused of sectional and sectarian disposition which is the hallmark of the Buhari Government. Rather than indulging in comparing any government with the present, those who still have faith in the unity of Nigeria are only fervently praying and counting days for this evil cup to pass over.

Comparing the two administration is odious, but they seem the same – Farounbi

Nigeria’s ex-envoy to the Philippines, Dr Yemi Farounbi argued that comparing General Ibrahim Babangida’s regime with the present administration was a bit difficult because of the different circumstances around the two governments. Although, he describe the level of corruption witnessed under President Muhammadu Bubari’s administration as cancerous and threatening the corporate existence of the country, he added that the seed was planted during the military era

“Comparisons are very odious simply because during General Ibrahim Babangida’s time there was no EFCC, there was no ICPC, so it cannot be said the grundnorm for fighting corruption has been made. It is quite true that maybe one one governor or administrator misbehaved and dealt with, but there was no deliberate infrastructure provided to fight corruption. It is also equally true that the kind of that occurs now we have not seen before, I think this is because of the cancerous growth of corruption over the years.

But what most Nigerians would say is that the seed for corruption was probably laid when we had civilian administration with the Military administration of Babangida days. Some people think that monetisation of politics started at that time. It is perhaps true that the seed that was sown then has already grown to a cancerous tree that is threatening the existence of the country. But if we are looking at the dimension of corruption we have now, you would think that under Babangida regime they were saints. But if you look at the fact that whether the corruption is one naira or one billion naira, any misuse of public fund or misallocation of public fund, then you will say both administrations are the same”.

Babangida can’t be compared with Buhari—Babatope

Former Minister of Transportation, Chief Ebenezer Babatope in his own submissions said, “I agree that General Babangida’s administration was a saint compared to what we have now. Yes, he annulled electoral process but for how long do we want to dramatise that action. We were not this divided as a country, we were much more secured as a people, Babangida has done his best. We cannot compare Babangida and Buhari. Presently, election was, and is still being rigged under Buhari. If Buhari wanted to be compared with General Babaginda, he should up his game as President, unite the people and stop dividing the country through his nepotistic disposition to national issues”, he said.

It’s like comparing elephant with goat—Chief Anaekwe

Elder statesman and General of Onitsha Markets Amalgamated Traders Association, OMATA, Chief Ozoh Anaekwe, agreed with former President Ibrahim Babangida that his administration was a saint when compared with the level of corruption in the president administration. He said, comparing the corruption in present administration with that of Babangidas regime is like comparing elephant with goat, corruption during Babangida’s administration did not come near or close to what we have now.”

Speaking with Saturday Vanguard, Chief Anaekwe said, during Babangida’s regime, he carried everybody in Nigeria along, he never discriminated against any section of Nigeria, he carried Igbo, Hausa and other sections of Nigeria along. He appointed people into positions based on merit even when he had opportunity as a military president to appoint whoever he liked without anybody challenging him.

Babangida’s administration favoured many people irrespective of where you came from, he did not corner anything to his tribe or friends as we are seeing in the present administration, neither did he appoint only his relations, friends and men into juicy positions, he gave appointment based on merit.

Babanngida can beat you with right hand and pet you with the left hand, what he said in Arise Television is totally correct, there is no comparison between corruption in the Bagabdiga administration and the present administration, unfortunately they are the one that has shouted the loudest against corruption in Nigeria, but generally the military brought corruption in Nigeria. If it is only corruption we are witnessing in the present administration, Nigerians will not bother, but the wanton killings and I don’t care attitude of the present administration in bringing the perpetrators to book because they are from a favoured ethnic group is what is frightening and giving Nigerians sleepless night”.

Military not same as democratic government—Anthony Sani

Immediate past Secretary General of the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, Mr. Anthony Sani has said the instruments of governance in a military setting are world apart from what obtain in a democracy and as such, comparing the two systems of government becomes untenable.

The ACF chieftain said, “it is difficult to compare what happened under military and democratic regimes precisely because they operate under different circumstances. For example, appointments and discipline of public officers under military are done without due recourse to obstacles posed by legal and legislative processes while in democracy, the processes can encounter a lot of challenges.

“Even removal of under performing public officers is easier done under military than in multi-party democracy where those they represent cry foul over such removal. Again, the cost of governance during military is less than in democracy. Even though power under President Babangida may be regarded by most Nigerians as more humane in spirit and wise in its uses, I am not sure the same can be said that the power was moral in its purpose, considering IBB’s regime did not have programs to fight corruption.

No basis for comparison——Yoruba Council of Elders

The Secretary-General, Yoruba Council of Elders, Dr Kunle Olajide, said, “There’s no basis for comparing the two, one was purely a military dictatorship, while the other one is a coersive dictatorship which is supposed to be a constitutional government. Babangida government was purely dictatorship but we must credit it with assembling best technocrats in his cabinet but it was still a dictatorship.

President Buhari is a democratic constitutional government but it is inaccessible to the people who elected him. He doesn’t talk to us, so the constitution that brought them to power is a fraudulent document. So it is as if we are still in one form of dictatorship or the other. For me there is nothing to be between six and half a dozen”, he said.

Also speaking, the Organising Secretary of Afenifere, Apagun Kole Omololu said that

“Progressively Nigeria has witnessed worse management of corruption since 1966 especially with a military government and with people with military backgrounds as head of government in a democracy. Under General Babaginda government, scammers, dupers known as 419 were like in their embryo, Gen Abacha government was an open armed robbery led by the head of state himself. President Obasanjo’s eight year tenure recorded miniature level of corruption like the 3rd term saga . Political corruption was at its peak, rigging of election, Political assassination. Financial corruption was insignificant.

The President Goodluck Jonathan witnessed uncivilised stealing. Very sectional pilfering.

Since 2015, at the coming on board of General Buhari, it was like grand strategic plan to steal, to rape and to destroy. It is an assemblage of sophisticated thieves. Just be a member of their party as an armed rubber from someone where else, your sin will be forgiven .

Corruption has graduated to evil phenomenon. Financial corruption, political corruption, economic corruption, nepotism corruption. It is like a plan to make sure Nigeria must not exist after Buhari.

Corruption has destroyed the psyche of the citizens especially the young ones who has stooped believing they have a country called their own. They believe they are on their own. Buhari regime is in class of its own in the field of corruption it has no comparison. The regime is mean, satanic, wicked and unprecedented.

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