“The question I, therefore, want to ask Osinbajo is, who built the Aso Rock that they are occupying today? It was IBB.”
Noah Ebije, Kaduna
Former Kaduna State chairman of the National Democratic Party (NDP), Hassan Mohammed Jallo, has tackled Vice President Yemi Osinbajo for attacking the administration of former military President, Retired General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB).
Osinbajo while answering questions from Nigerians at a town hall meeting in Minnesota, United States recently, revealed how huge funds went down the drain in previous administrations, pointing out that, under the IBB/Abacha administrations (1990 – 1998) Nigeria realised $199.8 billion; under the Obasanjo/Yar’Adua governments (1999 – 2009), the country got $401.1 billion; and during the Jonathan administration (2010 – 2014), Nigeria got $381.9 billion from oil revenues, saying the previous administrations did not effectively utilise the funds to build infrastructure.
What is your take on the comment by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo that the previous administrations fail to effectively manage the country’s resources?
Of recent, due to political considerations, some people tried to distort facts of history to mislead some members of the public. I felt that some of us who knows IBB very well owe it a duty to put the facts straight for other Nigerians and of course, the world to know who really General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida is.
Who is the person and what are the distorted facts that elicited your reaction?
Recently, Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo had at a public function said former leaders, particularly IBB, Abacha and Obasanjo, did not know how and where they invested the huge oil revenue they earned because they refused to provide infrastructure. To me, that is a bloody lie. He tried to mislead members of the public for political reasons, maybe to satisfy his pay masters and his political leaders. The question I, therefore, want to ask Osinbajo is, who built the Aso Rock that they are occupying today? It was IBB. HE made Abuja, which is today the federal capital of Nigeria, a reality and that is the pride of every Nigerian and even African. So, for him to say former leaders did not perform and made mention of General Babangida that his administration did not provide infrastructure, to me, is a bloody lie and I owe it a duty to my boss to say the facts about his performance in office are there.
What are some of those achievements in clear terms?
If there is any Nigerian leader, dead or alive that has really provided infrastructure for public interest, it is General Ibrahim Babangida. Starting from Lagos, if not for Babangida, Lagos would not have been what it is today. The administration provided the 3rd Mainland Bridge, Epe power plant in Lagos was built by Babangida; this is apart from the Federal Housing estates and the dualisation of roads in Lagos. When you come to Abuja, the regime single handedly built Abuja – the Aso Rock Villa, Police barracks, NNPC headquarters, CBN headquarters, NDIC, name them. They are all there for people to see, like roads and bridges. Even the Abuja/Kaduna/Kano dual carriage road was built by Babangida administration. Shiroro Dam, Kenji Dam, Gembu Dam and the Kaduna Refinery Petrochemical Company were all built by Babangida. Likewise, the Liquefied Nigeria Gas Energy was a project conceived and financed by Babangida. Even before he left government, the government was able to get our gas into the market outside this country with Nigeria earning millions of dollars as dividends every year.
Ibrahim Babangida’s administration created 11 states and they were given take-off grants. The government established universities of technology and agriculture in every zone of the country. An example is the Federal University of Technology Minna. These are some of the many legacies of General Babangida. Others includes WAEC and NECO headquarters in Abuja as well as army barracks, Defence and War college, the 1Div headquarters in Kaduna and Police college, Wudil in Kano. In view of all these, for somebody to come and say that Nigerian leaders, especially Babangida and Abacha did not provide infrastructure, means Vice President Osinbajo is telling lies to Nigerians. Let him go back to archives and study history. The question I repeatedly want to ask him is who built Aso rock? Even Katsina State is created by Babangida and he constructed the Katsina international airport just like Abuja international airport. Look at OMPADEC, Babangida established it in recognition and appreciation of the importance of oil producing areas and they were adequately funded to cater for the needs of the people. That is when the areas started experiencing development. So, to say IBB did not provide infrastructure when he was in office, is just an attempt to distort history and facts.
Looking at these lofty achievements, don’t you think it is sad that the man is not running for the presidency?
No. IBB is one person that believes so much in God and destiny. He has said it years back that, he is not cut-out for any elective office or partisan politics. He is just a statesman and will want to remain so. His achievement is unequal. Just look at the establishment of Peoples Bank and Community Banks which are now called Microfinance Banks. Obasanjo changed the names. Babangida decentralised the economy. Before the advent of his regime, no Nigerian owned a Bank, no Nigerian owned media outfit especially Radio and Television, and he removed Decree 4 to make it possible for journalists to practice effectively. Prior to his administration, no Nigerian was into maritime industry. When he came he reorganised and opened up the markets. That was when individual Nigerians started to own a bank. Babangida was the first leader to give newsprint to media houses. Before Babangida came, only foreigners were lifting oil but today many Nigerians are into the business because he gave those licenses.
Ahead of 2019, many presidential aspirants have visited IBB and more are likely to pay him visit. As an ardent supporter and admirer, how will you advise him?
IBB is a father to all and that is why you see all the politicians seeking election at either presidential, governorship or national and state assembly levels from all the political parties visiting him for consultations. It is therefore unwise for anybody to advise him to support one particular aspirant for now. He is a card carrying member of the PDP and the party has about 11 presidential aspirants. In this case, it is not possible for Babangida as a father to endorse a particular aspirant for now.
What is your call to the Vice President on the issue he raised, which you said are not correct?
This is not the first time Osinbajo is trying to distort history by telling lies. He should remember that tomorrow will always come. Today he is a sitting Vice President, he should know that tomorrow he will be a former vice president and by that token, Osinbajo will one day be a former leader and his boss too will be a former leader. Will he be happy then if some of us should start distorting facts by telling lies about him? So, my advice is that Osinbajo, before you accuse a former leader or any leader of non-performance, check your facts very well. There is no Nigerian leader, dead or alive, that has done half of what IBB did. I stand to be corrected by anybody.
Obasanjo tried his best during his time but not up to half of IBB’s achievements. Almost 70percent of the infrastructure development in Abuja was done by Babangida. One thing people do not understand is that the entire infrastructure we have in Nigeria today, whether anybody likes it or not, were provided by the military. You can hate the military but tell me, between the eras of former President Shagari’s civilian regime and now, what are the achievements of politician or civilian regime vis-à-vis the military regime? Nigeria benefited more under the military regime. Out of the number of local government areas that we have, IBB created about 300. In all the states created by IBB, he built the state secretariats. The two federal secretariats and the flyovers in Abuja were built by Babangida, yet somebody is there saying he does not know where the oil money had gone to rather than giving commendation to Babangida. It is unfortunate.
What is your score of the present administration under the leadership of President Buhari and Vice President Osinbajo?
APC is a failure. We all know it. Nigeria is very rich both in human and material resources. Six months in office is enough for any leader to make impact in the lives of the people, and not to talk of one year because the money is there and the people are there. This government is just deceiving people. When they took over they said during Obasanjo and Jonathan, the price of oil was $110, $120 per barrel, agreed. Now the price is about $70.00 per barrel or thereabout. But during Jonathan, exchange rate at the black market was selling N150.00, N200.00 to a dollar and the economy was booming. Now Buhari regime is selling your oil at international market for $70 a barrel. It is your money they are bringing back to Nigeria and selling to Nigerians at N360.00 per dollar. Look at the gap in the earnings, how much the government is making compare to Jonathan’s administration. Their problem is that they are visionless and so they have no good plan for Nigeria. Their plan is just to rule.
Everybody in APC wants to be a leader. They want to be president, they want to be governor. They have no good plan for Nigeria and the people. If you look round, there is a lot of poverty in the land. The killings we are witnessing in the north have never happened in the history of Nigeria. Insecurity is the order of the day across the country. Armed robbers and kidnappers have taken over Abuja/Kaduna road and government cannot do anything to give relief to the road users. See the killings in Benue, Adamawa, Plateau, Nasarawa, Yobe and Taraba States and you say you have a government.