Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida,
Ex-Military President Ibrahim Babangida has respond to the clamor for restructuring and devolution of powers.
well, this is an instant of verity as Former Military President Gen. Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, is repenting from the ‘sin’ of unitarism.
Apparently, at a geezer-hood, the General is embracing reality, having perceived the solution to the national question from the scope of his notable military career for almost six decades, he has now made a U-turn.
The survival of Nigeria as an indivisible entity cannot be prescribed. Since the nation-state is on edge, only restructuring, in Babangida’s view, can stem the tide of collapse or disintegration.
Nigeria is ripe for the review of the existing structure; he said.
The amalgamated country hijacked by the military from legitimate civilian authorities, barely six years after independence, and redesigned to conform with the centralist vision of military interlopers, who lorded it over the nation for 28 years (1966-1979 and 1984-1999), is writhing in pains.
His views points the pro-National Conference agitators and other politicians who cleanse their image on the borrowed platform of restructuring, ahead of future elections.
The gap-toothed General, fondly call ‘Evil Genius’, surprised all when he lent his voice to the clamour for the devolution of more powers to states.
He said Nigeria was also ripe for state police,adding that policing is now a sophisticated enterprise.
The immediate effect of the renewed agitations for the redesign or reconfiguration of the Lugard edifice is that the clamour has the potentials of temporarily dousing national tension.
Gen. Babangida felt the heat of a brewing crisis in his Hilltop Mansion in Minna, capital of Niger State.
Some youths from the Northern Region had issued a quit notice to Igbo living in the vast territory, in reaction to the succession threat by restless Biafran irredentist from the Southeast. It was reminiscent of the 1966 logjam, which was aggravated by the avoidable pogrom.
The implication of an impending disaster was not lost on him. Both federal and rebel forces bore the brunt of the needless three-year old civil war, which ravaged the defunct Eastern State.
Personally, the General has a sad tale to tell because he is still nursing the wound he sustained on the war front. Having fought to keep Nigeria together between 1967 and 1970, he reasoned that another civil war should be prevented because no country fights civil war twice and survives it.
It is now evident to the former Commander-in-Chief that the answer lies in what has been evaded for 51 years.
If the military foisted a unitary system, thereby paving the way for a lopsided federalism since 1966, the beleaguered country can still retrace its step from perdition by making a concrete effort to redress the ‘unitary injustice’ in 2017.
Gen. Babangida is one of the leaders whose atrocities have contributed to the growing mutual suspicion. His behaviour in power; his high handedness, survivalist approach and unfulfilled promises fueled the crisis of nationhood. His eight-year tenure in power paled into a disaster.
Apart from silencing democracy, the military ruler presided over the liquidation of the federal principle.
During the military rule, there were identity and distribution crises that the Supreme Military Council (SMC), the Armed Forces Ruling Council (AFRC) and the Provisional Military Council (PRC) could not resolve. Fundamental freedom and liberty were on holiday.
The soldiers of fortune were not accountable to the people. When states were created, its lopsided distribution was worrisome.
The bitterness was aggravated by the consequential creation of local government areas. While Kano and Jigawa states have almost 71 local governments, Lagos has 20 pre-existing councils.
In 1988, Babangida set up a Constituent Assembly to make a constitution for the Third Republic. It paled into an exercise in futility.
He converted the country into a laboratory for political experiment. The outcome of the experimentation was the annulment of the historic June 12, 1993 presidential election, believed to have been won by the late Chief Moshood Abiola of the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP). Gen. Babangida should be reminded that calls for restructuring by Afenifere, the pan-Yoruba socio-political group, and the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) filled the air, following his perceived reluctance to hand over to the president-elect.
The June 12 injustice became the tonic for the agitation for equity, fairness and justice by other geo-political zones, which protested the domination of the country by some Northern cabals.