After his seeming endorsement of President Goodluck Jonathan and then shortly afterwards the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), and promising to mobilise retired military generals to support the latter, former military president, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (rtd), on Thursday decided to be more generous with his support, saying that he endorses all 14 presidential candidates in the forthcoming election.
Babangida stated this during a talk show on Channels TV, adding that all the candidates had displayed passion for the unity of the country.
Asked by the presenter of the programme, Ms. Kadaria Ahmed, if he had thrown his weight behind Jonathan, Babangida said he alluded to it.
“I did allude to that. I said I found him as someone who has a very strong belief about the unity of this country.
“Those of us who fought the civil war and I still carry a bullet here as a permanent reminder in me, so anyone who talks about Nigeria’s unity, I get impassioned about it.
“So what I said is that the president believes in the unity of this country and any other person who believes in the unity of this country should support the president to keep the country one,” he said.
Continuing, Babangida said as far as the presidential election was concerned, all the 14 presidential candidates had his blessing.
“The only difference and I did mention it, is that I have not been able to read what they have to offer to this country and I am going to do that. Whoever offers what I was looking forward to I will cast my vote,” he said.
Babangida also spoke on the late Gen. Sani Abacha, saying that it never crossed his mind that his successor was going to seize power from the head of the interim government, Chief Ernest Shonekan, to whom he handed over power in 1993.
“It never crossed my mind that Abacha would overthrow the interim government, quite honestly, it never did. But when he executed the coup, it didn’t come to me as a surprise because all of you in this country gave him the wherewithal to do it. A coup always succeeds if there was a frustration in the society and that frustration was orchestrated.
“I governed for eight years using decree, that interim government was given a constitution and that constitution was supported by a law. So as far as I’m concerned, it was not illegitimate. It was legitimately done as it’s done in military governments all over the world,” he said.
He called on Nigerians and Muslims to stand up and fight against Boko Haram, saying that the group had carried out acts that are contrary to the tents of Islam.
“Nigerians have to mobilise against the Boko Haram and that will make it easy to win the war,” he said.
He added that he had no regret over anything he did during his regime but admitted that if there was anything he would have done differently, it would have been to include a provision for a two-party system in the Nigerian constitution.