Former military President Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (rtd) has expressed confidence in the ability of President Muhammadu Buhari to get Nigeria back on a sound economic and social footing.
He described the Buhari administration as focused, having identified the problems plaguing the country and strategising on how best to proffer enduring solutions to them.
The former military leader gave the assessment yesterday at a news conference to mark the anniversary of his 74th year birthday.
Gen. Babangida, who turns 74 today, spoke at his Hilltop residence in Minna, Niger State.
He said: “I am confident that they (the government) are doing well. They have identified the problems and they look resolute in confronting these problems head-on and there are a lot of people in the society who are offering a lot of sound advice on how to move the country forward and are not relenting.
“I must commend the present leadership for identifying even before and after the election some of the problems facing this country. We should support the President towards achieving these objectives of ensuring security, wiping out corruption and economic development.”
The former leader lauded President Buhari’s efforts at recovering the nation’s stolen funds by some top shots in the immediate past administration and urged the government to pursue the policy resolutely to achieve the desired result.
He recalled that similar effort during the tenure of President Olusegun Obasanjo yielded positive results as the country made a lot of recoveries then.
On the war against terror, the former military leader said that the Federal Government must fight Boko Haram and tackle other militant groups head-on and stamp terrorism, even as he cautioned against negotiating with wrong leaders of the outlawed group.
Gen. Babangida called for public understanding of government policies and programmes at a time he described as a ‘trying period for the nation.’
“The people and the government must come together. People should support the government and government too should come up with solutions to ameliorate the problem that every government faces,” he advised.
Recounting how he survived the botched military coup staged by Gideon Okar against his administration, Gen Babangida said: “I can remember fairly well; I had some loyal officers who are supposed to be my protectors and my body guards. Initially they told me to leave but I told them no, I am not leaving for anywhere but they remained stubborn and later I took my family outside Dodan barracks and joined my guards.
“So, we went out of Dodan barracks and we went to a safe house where we got in contact with loyal troops. May God bless Sani Abacha (late Head of State). The late Gen Sani Abacha was the Chief of Army Staff, he got in touch with me. I got in touch with him and we sat down and talk on what we were going to do.
“Abacha and I rallied round the loyal troops and then I left my State House and joined Abacha in his house. That is what happened.”
He also commented on other national issues.
The anniversary of Gen Babangida’s birthday will be marked today with a special prayer session billed to be attended by his immediate family members and few of his associates.