A desperate opportunist, Ibrahim Babangida, suspecting he is being stripped of his influence and possibilities within the ruling party, now plans to carry out his presidential ambition through any political party. Asked, if his loyalty is still to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as he had previously claimed, IBB's simple answer was, he will contest through "whichever party"will take him.
Obviously jittery, Babangida said he was not afraid of the possibility of President Goodluck Jonathan using incumbency to kill his dream of returning to power next year.The former military dictator, in an interview on Redcarpet, an independent production on Murhi International Television (MITV) in Lagos, said: "I think the power of incumbency; this is something that you guys in the media hype. As long as we, and when I said ‘we’, I mean you, me and others, accept that there is a concept of one-man, one-vote and people will be given a chance to make selection based on their own free will, then nobody has to fear. So, it is only in Nigeria that we talk about incumbency because of our corruptive attitude. We waste our time on incumbency, that the president is going to use the police to harass the (opponents); haba! Why do we continue promoting such belief?"
Babangida’s regime annulled the June 12, 1993 election –Nigeria’s freest and fairest ever –won by frontline businessman Moshood Abiola. He has not given any good reason for the action, which is believed to have been a setback for democracy. Abiola died in a desperate battle to regain his mandate.
Told that the president is in control of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) machinery and that he could be denied the party’s ticket, Babangida said it was unthinkable that any Nigerian would be treated that way by the PDP, which he described as a democratic institution.
"PDP is a democratic institution and I think they will allow everybody. I don’t even consider that a possibility, there is no point wasting my time on things that are unthinkable," he said.
He said even if Jonathan appointed the party executive, he will not appoint the voters. "Is he appointing the voters too?" Babangida asked.
On the crisis rocking the PDP, Babangida said the party would get over it soon. "I think that they will get out of that crisis. The ability of any establishment to have crisis and manage to get out of it with time is the hallmark of politics," he said.
He expressed confidence that he will emerge a flag bearer. When asked of which party, Babangida replied: "whichever party?"
On why he said whichever party, despite being a member of the PDP, Babangida said his membership of the ruling party is a fact. He did not elaborate.
He spoke on the economy, criticising the debt pardon secured by the Olusegun Obasanjo administration. To him, the pardon has not reflected on the quality of lives of ordinary Nigerians.
"These debts that General Obasanjo government paid are debts that are outside, Brettonwoods institutions, other trading partners outside. What I am saying is that the ordinary person hasn’t felt the impact of this. We accumulated a domestic debt of N3.5 trillion in this country," Babangida said.
On how to solve the power problem, Babangida said the sector should be opened up, just like the telecommunications sector. He said: "Telephone used to be the exclusive preserve of the elite. It is no longer like that now ... I can come to your village, where there is a lot of water and generate hydro-electricity. The government should allow people do that. It can set the ground rules … Let people provide electricity, sell it, make their money."
On true federalism, Gen. Babangida said: "There is too much control at the centre and if we are able to enhance the states and make them stronger. If the Federal Government gives them more responsibilities, such as in education, agriculture, for example, then the Federal Government becomes light. It will devote more time to attend to issues of national defence, foreign relations, economic issues and so on."
In the United States, the Nigeria People’s Parliament in Diaspora unanimously passed a resolution at the weekend, asking the Federal Government to prosecute Babangida and ban him from holding public office for annulling the June 12 election.
The parliament, which first convened in March, passed the resolutions during its second plenary session held at the Bailey Theater Hall of the LaGuardia Crowne Plaza in the Queens District of New York. The Nigeria Democratic Liberty Forum convened the parliament.
The resolutions followed several motions moved by some of the over 80 parliamentarians at the session.
Omoyele Sowore, publisher of Saharareporters.com said: "We must ensure that we find out from Babangida before he dies why he was so cowardly and those people who put a gun to his head to annul that election must be identified; they must be scrutinised, interrogated and appropriately punished."
Sowore said Babangida should be banned from politics and public life. Besides, he should be arrested and tried for annulling the democratic aspiration of 150 million people, he said, adding that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) should probe the corruption allegations against him.
Another member of the parliament, Olusegun Dare, said: "We should make a motion here, declaring him as enemy of progress, enemy of democracy and enemy of Nigeria."
The motions were put to vote and passed unanimously.
Alex Kabba, the publisher of Africans Abroad-USA, a New York newspaper, moved a motion for the recognition of those who fought fearlessly for democracy during the 1993 election.
On the list are the late Chief Abiola, his wife, the late Kudirat, the late Chief Alfred Rewane, the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi, the late Dr. Beko Ransome-Kuti, the late Captain Fred Agbeyegbe, several journalists and many Nigerians who were killed, injured or harassed.
The democracy heroes still alive, who should be honoured, according to Kabba, include former Lagos Governor Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) chieftain, General Alani Akinrinade, and elderstatesman, Chief Anthony Enahoro, among others.
"All these people should be given recognition on June 12 in their respective localities. This could be by naming schools after them or roads or streets," Kabba said.