Says NASS Members Should Work Part-Time
FORMER military president, General Ibrahim Babangida, has said he is not the evil genius that quite a lot of people consider him to be.
Babangida said: “I have had a very excellent background and training. We have to love one another. However, I can understand the feeling people have towards me.
“By the virtue of the job I was doing, I was bound to be misconstrued and my actions misinterpreted as evil. I consider what people say as an opinion as long as I am not what you think I was; I feel satisfied.”
The former president, who revealed this during an interaction with newsmen to mark his 75th birthday on Tuesday, said if he had his way, membership of the National Assembly would be on part-time basis, adding that it was one of the novel concepts he had planned to introduce during his eight-year rule.
The gap-toothed ex-leader stepped aside as military president, following the crisis precipitated by the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, regarded as the freest in the annals of the country.
The presumed winner of the poll, Chief MKO Abiola, later died about five years after under incarceration by the regime of late head of state, General Sani Abacha.
Babangida agreed with some Nigerians on the need to know the cost of governance, as the nation was believed to spend about a fifth of the federal budget in maintaining both the Senate and the House of Representatives.
While the Senate comprises 109 members, there are 390 members in the House.
The former leader, often called the evil genius by some Nigerians, said he strongly believed in the introduction of part-time legislature to mitigate the cost of running governance in the country.
His regime had operated a diarchy, with elected state governors operating with the full complement of state houses of assembly, while the National Assembly was gagged through the provision of no-go areas at the federal level.
He said the proposal for a part-time legislature was one of the major issues he had not talked about since he left office about 24 years ago.
“In 1989, we proposed that the membership of the National Assembly should be on a part-time basis. If I have the opportunity to change the cause of events in this country either as a President, I still believe in that very strongly; all in an effort to cut the cost of governance. I thank you for reminding me about the issue I have not talked about. It has been on the need for a part time basis for the legislature; it has skipped my memories for some time,” he stated.
Meanwhile, General Babangida, has said his toughest encounter in the army was trekking from Enugu to Umuahia, where he sustained injury during the civil war.
“Movement from Enugu to Umuahia was very tough and challenging, because you need to be physically fit to be able to undertake that kind of journey on foot.
“We had to go through the jungles and the hills. I think it was my toughest encounter in the army, because that was where I got wounded in April 1969,’’ he said.
He said he joined the army for the purpose of being in the force to protect the country.
According to him, being in the military means that you must subject yourself to a constituted authority to execute all the tasks assigned to you by government.
He said the constitutional role and international treaties made it possible for military personnel to serve anywhere in the world.
The former military president said the military job was more challenging than being the president of a country.