Former military president Ibrahim Babangida
By Jaiyeola Andrews
As controversy trails President Goodluck Jonathan’s possible second term bid in 2015, former military president Ibrahim Babangida has said that Jonathan’s performance would be the basis of his endorsement by the public.
Babangida said this in an interview with THISDAY at his Hilltop residence in Minna, the Niger State capital.
Babangida noted that it would be wrong to form any opinion on Jonathan’s ambition in 2015 when the president had not said anything with regards to a second term.
Besides, he said Jonathan’s job for now was to pilot the affairs of the nation and he should be allowed to do that.
“You can’t make a view or opinion on something Jonathan didn’t say anything about. So it will be unfair. I think from my own reasoning, we should allow him to run the course.
“He has a job to do now. He has just been elected, I think it’s not up to one year or one year plus. So he has got three more years. It is what he does that will recommend him to the public and to Nigerians,” Babangida said.
On the calls for the convocation of a Sovereign National Conference, Babangida said though there had been clamour for it nobody had come up with the method to be used in convoking the conference.
According to the former head of state, “I don’t know what that means, quite frankly. Even during my time there had been calls for Sovereign National Conference and nobody has come out with a method to say, this is the way we intend to do it.
“A lot of people will call for it. Now if it is sovereign, the power is taken away from the recognised elected members of the National Assembly. Is that the protocol you want? May be not.
“So if we don’t want it, whatever we want can be done through the elected representatives of the people. If you say, ok, people will have to go for national conference, people will have to be there, who are the people who will be there? How do you get them there? Are you going to elect them?
“Because somebody just made noise, let there be, you sit down and say, ok, Mr. X is a very vocal advocate of Sovereign National Conference, how does he get there? Do you elect him? Or do you nominate him?
“I think the people clamouring for it; nobody has come up with anything near the method of convocation of Sovereign National Conference. I know that it happened in quite a few countries in Africa, in West Africa, but then they were still back to square one.
“We know what the problems are; we knew who we are, we know what we want to get. So, you have the constitution, you can make amendment in the constitution so that you achieve the same thing.”
The former military president, who noted that there were a lot of settled issues in the country, however, advocated the devolution of power to the federating units.
He said the federal and state governments can set standards for the establishment of certain institutions, like schools.
“So it is not the exclusive preserve of the federal government. By doing that you are reducing the burden on the government. The states are also reducing the burden on the federal government.
“I think it is a matter of ability to know what each tier of government is capable of doing, allow it to do it, provided it has the fund to do it and you run a lighter government and not complicated, very light. I think that will be much better than convoking a Sovereign National conference,” Babangida said.