Dearest General Ibrahim B. Babangida (Former military president of Nigeria), this is a response to the interview you granted MNet channel of DSTV, some details of which were published on Thisday newspapers of 5th February 2009, online version. Before I proceed, I need to let you know that I was planning to write you a letter before I read some details of your interview on Thisday newspapers. Suffice it to say that your interview necessitated this response, in addition with some details of the original letter that I wanted to write you.
I do not quite agree with some of the things you said on the interview. Specifically you said that you and the then Armed Forces Ruling Council (AFRC) knew that the new democratic government to be installed in 1993 would have been toppled through another military coup deta’t. Therefore in order to avoid this, your government cancelled the freest and fairest elections in the Nigerian history. You simply said that security threats led you to cancel the best election Nigeria had produced. You also said that the situation was not ripe to hand over at that time. Furthermore, you also implied that what happened to the Interim National Government (ING) was eventually the fate that would have befallen the civil rule which your administration would have handed over to.
Now I have these questions for you. If you and the Armed Forces Ruling Council (AFRC) knew that military would have toppled the democratic government, why didn’t you arrest the military personnel involved, or retire them, or try them or even make them redundant or redeploy them. Nigerians will find it difficult to accept this reason. Secondly, why didn’t you allow the winner of the June 12 1993 elections to deal with the matter himself? After all Chief Olusegun Obasanjo as a civilian president were able to retire all military personnel who have held political appointments. President Musa Yar’Adua has at various occasions retire or redeploy military personnel. Therefore the late MKO Abiola would have been able to deal with the military. It would have been better if the military had toppled late MKO Abiola himself, than you cancelling the June 12 1993 elections.
My second question is this? Since you said that the situation was not ripe then to hand over, why drag Nigerians through the long transition programme? Why did you waste our scarce resources to erect party structures etc? Do you also remember that a lot of Nigerians died as a result of crisis that followed the June 12 election cancellations? Since the situation was not ripe then to hand over power, why did you put Nigerians through very difficult and dangerous route? Nigerians will be waiting for a better explanation. I will leave history to judge you.
Dearest IBB, the mistake of cancelling the freest and fairest election in 1993 was entirely yours; this is because of your failure to diffuse whatever security threat you identified then, and your inability to deal with the military which was your primary constituency, even as a four star General. Also the principle of collective responsibility puts the blame square on your door steps.
However, no person is above mistake. Many world leaders have at one point or the other made mistakes. In your own case, a window of opportunity exists now for you to redeem the mistake you made in 1993. That window of opportunity is for you to use your influences to campaign for electoral reforms. Nigerians will forgive you and be more glad if you could help to reintroduce Option A4 Electoral system in Nigeria. Option A4 system was your brain child, therefore you need no explanation that it should be the best system for Nigeria. Nigeria has derailed largely because of our corrupt electoral system. I am appealing for your support in this campaign for the reintroduction of Option A4 system.
There have been a lot of speculations about your presidential ambition, but my candid opinion is for you to firstly help and reintroduce Option A4 electoral system back to our statutory books. Perhaps you might become a true statesman if you help achieve this. God bless Nigeria.
Chinedu Vincent Akuta
An activist and leader of “Support Option A4 Group”