Former Head of State, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, yesterday explained the rationale behind the selection of former President Olusegun Obasanjo in 1999.
Featuring on a weekly Guest-of-the Week programme of Liberty FM, a private radio station in Kaduna, Babangida said they picked General Obasanjo because they needed somebody who can save the country from disintegration.
“The emergence of Obasanjo came as a result of what happened in the country. The country was in a very serious crisis and we had to find the solution to these problems. Therefore we need a leader. A leader who is known in the country. “So, we looked for a man who has been involved in the affairs of this country, who held position either in the military or in the cabinet and who has certain beliefs about Nigeria. All of us that were trained in the armed forces, there is one belief that you cannot take away from us, we believe in this country because this is part of our training. We fought for this country.
“So when you have a situation like that, you need a leader that has all these attributes and, quite frankly, he quickly came to mind. We have one who knows the north, knows the south and who fought a war,” he said.
He expressed his belief in two-party system because it gives room for choice, hailing the possible emergence of two major parties in Nigeria because ‘it is good for the polity and the unity of this country’.
Asked on his stand on PDP, he said “I’m a founding father of the PDP, one of the founding fathers of the party, and I cannot disown what I founded”.
When asked to identify his presidential candidate in 2015, he said, “I will belong to those who will chose a credible candidate, a candidate that can lead this country and it is not difficult to find out of 170 million people. There must be a candidate and that is what the constitution provides. If the party is silly and chooses the wrong candidate, the ordinary person is not silly. He knows this man cannot lead me. So he doesn’t vote for him. So if he chose a wrong candidate, you stand the chance of losing”.
On whom he will consider between retired General Muhammadu Buhari and President Goodluck Jonathan if they become presidential candidates in 2015, Babangida said, “If (Buhari and Jonathan) become candidates, both of them will have to sell their ideas for us, the ordinary people, and the voters. And they have not done that. So I have enough time to think and I am thinking and they will be anxious to come and see me. They will visit me or any other person. This is what I intend to do. We are talking about a new emerging scenario. So, I will wait and see”.