- Says use of military personnel in elections unconstitutional
From Yakubu Mustapha, Minna
Former military president of Nigeria, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida has frowned at the use of military personnel in the conduct of elections in the country.
He, however, reasoned that it was the fault of the civilians or the politicians who drafted the military to politics, adding: “it is not the business of the military; rather he said it was the constitutional responsibility of the Nigerian police”.
However, Babangida noted that “there are some places that you might need logistic support of the military, just like those people in the creak where military boats can be required to ferry the electoral personnel and their materials, but not to see the military in the streets on the day of the elections, this will amount to militarization of the electoral processes.
The former president, who stated this on the occasion of his 73rd birthday, at the weekend, was playing host to the members of the correspondents’ chapel, Nigerian Union of Journalists, NUJ, Niger State council at his up–hill mansion at the weekend.
The elder statesman going down memory lane of the various challenges confronting the country particularly, the insecurity, advised Nigerians to be patient, stressing that all the problems would soon be over.
Despite all the problems, he maintained that there will be Nigeria in 1,000 years’ time and therefore, those threatening to divide Nigeria or go to war, like Asari Dokubo and others were “empty threats
Where were they when Nigeria was in serious situations; they only stay in hotels and say what they like and the media gives them credibility, give them blackout and if they can make threats they should put on uniform and go into the forests with their supporters. I still have a spare uniform; we will meet at the battle field despite my age”.
“Everybody who have followed the history of this country would hence observe that every period to the current situation, every administration has faced one challenge or the other during the course of their time and this one cannot be the end; because the last administration had its own challenges too”, he affirmed.
Said he, “The important thing is that we the people should strive hard to overcome the problems and move forward” adding “I think what is happening to us is not new in any developing country”
On the Chibok School girls and insurgency in the north eastern part of the country, Babangida declared “ I am aware about what the government is doing now and I know that there are a lot of competition, it is no longer an issue that you could ask the military to move inside Sambisa forest and release these young girls, noting “I think what the Nigerians want is that they want them released and come home alive but not dead”.
Responding to the allegation that northern leaders were behind the insurgency or Boko Haram activities in the north-eastern region, he stated that, “These are mere allegation that were not substantiated; unless they are proved and you should desist from such allegations; I have heard it myself but I can’t take them serious”.
On the falling standard of education, the former military president threw his weight behind the re-introduction of the scrapped Teachers Colleges across the country, noting that the foundation should be properly laid so that we can get it right in the long run.