Ex-military leader commends INEC, okays card reader for poll
By Olumide Bajulaiye
Former military president, General Ibrahim Babangida, has washed his hands clean of any plan to impose or moot the idea of an interim government in the country.
He said in a press statement last night that he should be counted out of any such plan.
Babangida affirmed that the elections would hold as scheduled on March 28 and April 11 and that the INEC should be commended and encouraged for the determination and courage it has so far shown in its preparation for the poll.
He also expressed support for the use of card reader for the poll, saying, “In a digital world where almost everything is driven by technology, the offer of the card reader is a welcome development”.
Below is the text of the statement released from the IBB Media Office in Minna, Niger State:
“Following different reports and analyses in the print and on-line media, it has become expedient in the life of our political history to make certain clarifications to avoid unwarranted cynicisms usually promoted by naysayers, alarmists and political apologists to score cheap political mileage.
“One would have ignored this lazily scripted and well-orchestrated political permutation as the usual run-of-the-mill chit-chat and ridiculous permutation that is often on sale in our political lexicon, but for record purposes, this statement becomes instructively appropriate.
“To state the obvious, let it be on record that I am not in any way connected with alleged “plans” to encourage, promote, orchestrate or moot the idea of an interim government or whatever “contraption” so called. I did state categorically in 2011 that I was quitting partisan politics and wouldn’t want to be ordered around in any way or form as seeking public office in whatever guise. I took that decision when I attained the age of 70 and I stand by that decision till date.
“Having been privileged to preside over the affairs of this great country for eight unbroken years as a military president, I can declare with all sense of modesty that I have seen it all. And I give all praises and thanks to the Almighty Allah for giving me the rare opportunity to contribute my quota to the development of my fatherland. That opportunity remains my highest, most enduring moment in my entire trajectory through life’s bramble forest.
“When we introduced the idea of an “interim government” during our time as a military government, we had in mind to enthrone a democratic government in the shortest possible time in sync with the agitations of the people, after the inconclusive elections of 1993. That was a stop-gap measure because we were determined to quit office at the set date of August 27, 1993.
“Having left office since 1993 and with the benefit of hindsight, I think what we did was auspicious enough to reassure our people that we were ready to leave office and keep the country going. The end result of our patriotic action is another topic for another day. Suffice it to say that the circumstances we found ourselves in 1993 are totally different from what obtains today in our democratic journey as a nation with flourishing opportunities.
“Let me state in emphatic terms that Professor Attahiru Jega and his colleagues in INEC have to be encouraged, motivated, animated and commended for the sheer courage and determination they have shown thus far in their preparations for the March 28 and April 11 elections. They have demonstrated their sense of patriotism in a manner that underscores their readiness for the elections and love for country.
“Rather than condemnation, they deserve our commendation. They need to be encouraged to deliver on their statutory obligation to the Nigerian state. I have no doubt in my mind therefore, to state unequivocally, that elections will hold on the appointed dates in line with the unflinching assurances from INEC.
“Those mooting the idea of an interim government and trying to drag my name into it should please look elsewhere. I shared some of these thoughts with my guest, former President of South Africa, Mr. Thabo Mbeki, in my Minna home a couple of days back and we both stressed the all-important role of Nigeria in the continent and the need for credible elections at those appointed dates. We cannot afford not to get our elections right this time round.
“Our security agencies also deserve our commendation especially with the successes already recorded in the fight against the Boko Haram. This is the real Nigeria Army of my expectation. I am not only proud of the military uniform, I am betrothed to it. It is a symbolic and very unique institution that nurtured me on how to dominate my environment.
“Whether retired or serving military officers, we all share common professional affinity and collegiate loyalty. The unity of the country is paramount in our hearts and our sense of loyalty to the Nigerian state is unequivocal. I commend my colleagues in uniform, both senior and junior officers, for the sheer determination they have shown in combating the Boko Haram menace and preparing the ground for credible elections.
“I expect all the political parties to conduct themselves within the ambit of the law. They must continue to educate their members and the electorate on how to make the forthcoming elections more credible than previous ones. We must appreciate the creativity and innovation of the card reader which INEC has introduced to make for better election credibility and transparency. In a digital world where almost everything is driven by technology, the offer of the card reader is a welcome development.
“We may not get to the fullest merit of this, but it is a good way to start. This is one way to bridge the technological gap between those developed and under-developed nations of the world. Let us repose confidence in the system in the interest of the unity of our great country.
“Finally, let me state that I do not have a tweeter handle. All the statements being credited to me by way of tweets should be discountenanced”.