My Government Was Filled With Saints and Angels – General Ibrahim Babangida

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IBB-2

 

In an interview with EFCC’s internal correspondence “Zero Tolerance” General Ibrahim Babangida (rtd) described members of his administration as saints and angels compared to those in power today.
“Let me tell you something, maybe you have a hand in it. I have been the most investigated President Nigeria has ever had. By now, somebody should have come forward to say here it is. Every government that came after me investigated me because of that perception as they wanted to retrieve the billions I stole. Well, we had different approaches. I think my government was able to identify corruption-prone areas and checked them. If you remember in this country, there were things they call essential commodities. These are also sources of corruption. You go and buy Omo or food or whatever it is and we got government to take its hands off such activities. Let people use their own brains, hands and labour, nobody has to do it for them. So we did but I am proud to say that was much more effective. I don’t have the facts but if what I read in the newspapers is currently what is happening then I think we were angels”
IBB says the perception that his government institutionalized corruption is incorrect, arguing that with the little his administration was making from oil they could do what they did but with the much the present administration is making from oil, much is still left to be desired

“Yeah, I know. Maybe I have to accept that but anybody with a sense of fairness has no option but to call us saints. I give you an example, in a year I was making less than $7billion in oil revenue. In the same period, there are governments that are making $200billion to $300billion. With $7billion, I did the little I could achieve. With $200billion, there is still a lot to be achieved.”he said

On the $12.4billion oil windfall from the 1991 Gulf War which many believed was stolen by his government, Babangida insisted the money was not stolen.

“First of all, that war lasted three months, about ninety something days. It didn’t last up to a year. So get the facts straight. Secondly, the oil price at that time was below $18 per barrel. So, there is no way you could make $12.4billion in three months. We could not have made that amount of money but Pius Okigbo knew what he was doing. He had brains and he said between 1986 or 1988 to 1994, monies accrued to the Federal Government at that time was about that money you are calling windfall. He said so. It is there in his book. Then the other thing he said, the monies could have gone into generative investment. I am not an economist but I have an understanding of what this is. Our argument then was if you have the money, why keep it and be looking at it when you have a lot of things that will benefit the ordinary man. So that money was not stolen. It is what you see now in the country. Thank God most of the infrastructure we put in place are what you are using today and proudly so.”

Gen Babangida says the gains from the oil boom was used in the development of infrastructures such as the FCT Abuja and the third mainland bridge in Lagos amongst others

“Abuja for example, I built Abuja. Today, we have a brand new capital. We used that money. I gave you a Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos. You cannot build it now for all the money Nigeria is making. And what did it cost me? N500million, N600million, N700million. For the first time, a dual carriage way was seen in the Northern part of the country between Kaduna and Kano and then linked it up from Abuja. You cannot afford to do it now; you cannot even afford to touch it because there are a lot of competing needs.”he said

IBB who announced the annulment of the June 12 election in which business mogul Late Chief Moshood Abiola was adjudged the winner, accepted that the election was a credible election

“Yes, it (June 12) is a day in the history of Nigeria and the day the most credible election was held. We gave you a lot of reasons but I understood the passion. At that time, everybody was fed up. The sentiment was:  just pack your things and go. Our thought process is very limited. First of all, on June 23, 1993, I was on the air and I told Nigerians why we had to do what we did but I was sensible enough to know that whatever I said nobody was interested. So, the important thing is get out.”he said

Speaking about his investments, Babangida said he is a major shareholder in a bank but failed to mention the name of the bank or the value of his shares in the bank.

On how he built his Hilltop Mansion in Minna, Babangida said:

“I cannot estimate because it has appreciated. I know what my friends spent. No, my friends contributed. They were friends before we came into government and friends while I was in government. I started building it in 1991, took two to three years so that by the time I finished, I would have a house to sleep in.”

 

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