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Nigeria has lots to learn from IBB – Chidoka

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Praise Necherem

Former minister of aviation, Chief Osita Chidoka has said that Nigeria has a lot to learn from former military president, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida (Rtd) and his administration.

Chidoka said Babangida, who became the head of state in 1985, aged 44, brought about restructure into governance, such that gave power to the private sector to participate actively in nation building.

Speaking during the IBB Legacy Dialogue to mark the former president’s 80th birthday, Chidoka who was former Corps Marshall of Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), said the greatest lesson for him was listening to the variety of opinions about the elder stateman and the need to go back to the golden era so as to move Nigeria out of the woods.

In his words, “I recall I was just a 14-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) capitalisation 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 marshal 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 the 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 the bid 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 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 on Nigeria are 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 Nigerias 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 space in the 80s and his regime was characterised 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 stated. 

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