Former Minister of Aviation, Chief Osita Chidoka has said that Nigeria has got a lot to learn from the former Head of State, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida (Rtd) and his administration.
He said Babangida who became the Head of State in 1985 at age 44 brought about restructure into governance that gave power to the private sector to participate actively in nation building.
Speaking during the IBB Legacy Dialogue to mark the 80th birthday of the former Head of State, Chidoka who was former Corps Marshall of Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), said the greatest lesson for him is listening to variety of opinions about the elderstateman and the need to go back to the golden era so as to move Nigeria out of the woods.
He said, “I recall I was just fourteen year old boy when IBB took over governance and Guarantee Trust Bank (GTB), a beneficiary of Gen Babangida’s golden era started with five million Naira (N5m) capitalization and has grown to have a gross earning of four hundred and fifty five billion Naira (N455b) and assets of four trillion Naira (N4t)
“I was a Corps Marshall of FRSC and I must point out that the commission was founded by IBB, World bank and other agencies always wonder how Nigeria got the idea. Uganda also took template from Nigeria to develop their own and FRSC officials actually trained people from some other African countries.
“There is great disparity between what was happening in 1985 when Gen Babangida came on board and what is happening at the moment. State was running at a very high cost, there was tension everywhere then due to draconian rules but IBB in way to find a lasting solution to the issue, restructured the nation. He handed over to the private sector single handedly.
“Babangida took some revolutionary steps, he practically unlocked the potential of Nigerians. The media space was opened up, he allowed Nigerians to take over and control their destinies.”
The former Aviation Minister urged the government of the day to borrow a leaf from the IBB regime and reduce federal bureaucracy as well as withdraw from certain activities especially those on the concurrent list.
He appealed to the birthday celebrant to tell his own story as being canvassed by eminent scholars so that Nigeria could give birth to Naija.
“More than ever before, there is need to renew the idea of Nigeria. Questions of Nigeria is so strong now, there is a disconnect between the people and the government. Nigerians should be allowed to say what they really want as was done by IBB.
“Today two Nigeria have evolved, we have Naija where the youths are blazing the trail in technology, music and arts. It should be noted that Gen Babangida unlocked that spece in the 80s and his regime was characterized by youthful zeal and energy.
“Successive governments have not been able to do anything to excite Nigerians since then. There were songs composed to help nation building in those days, we even had musical awards, it was the foundation laid by IBB that led to modern day Lagos.” Chidoka opined.