Former military president of Nigeria, General Ibrahim Babangida, has sent a message of congratulations to President Muhammadu Buhari on his reelection for a fresh term of four years.
In a long message that dredged some of the issues that triggered some disagreement between the two leaders last year, Babangida asked Buhari not only to heal wounds from the election, but also to restructure the country and introduce ‘creative measures’ to tackle the economy.
The former military leader called restructuring agitators, ‘reasonable Nigerians”.
“The President may wish to heed to the yearnings of reasonable Nigerians for restructuring and seek all constitutional means to devolve some powers presently exercised by the Federal Government to the other tiers of government”, he said.
Babangida also asked Buhari to heal the wounds arising from the electioneering campaign and the outcome.
“The newly elected president should heal the wounds of the heated campaign exchanges by embracing those who contested alongside with him.
“The President must resist the temptation to see them as enemies; not even opponents, but fellow compatriots who merely disagreed with him on how best to move our country forward.
He also reserved special praises for Atiku Abubakar, Buhari’s main challenger, decorating him with several adjectives, such as being ‘dogged, gallant, audacious” and his electoral support cutting across ethnic “ethnic, religious and regional lines”.
However, Atiku’s winning votes across all lines of divide was not peculiar as Buhari even outperformed him, winning at least 25 per cent in 34 states and FCT and outrightly winning 19 of the 36 states.
Atiku led in the traditional PDP states of South South and South East but struggled to win his home state of Adamawa.
He also won narrowly in Ondo, Oyo, Benue, Plateau, Taraba states. He trailed Buhari in most of the North West and North East states, and failed to make 25 per cent cut in Kano, Kebbi, Zamfara, Borno, Katsina, and Yobe. He also lost to Buhari in Lagos, Ogun, Osun, Kwara, Nasarawa, Kwara, Ekiti, Kogi, Gombe, Kaduna, Niger, Sokoto, Jigawa and Kaduna.
Babangida’s full statement:
The 2019 Presidential and National Assembly elections have come and gone. These elections have produced a new president elect and new elected members of the Senate and House of Representatives.
I congratulate the Nigerian electorate who conducted themselves peacefully during the voting process; they were enthusiastic to exercise their democratic rights of electing candidates of their choice. Sadly, due to violence in some part of the country, lives were lost and I would like to extend my heartfelt condolences to their families for the death of their loved ones.
I wish to congratulate President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR on his re-election to lead Nigeria in the next four years. I have observed that, the electioneering campaign was very strenuous and the contest very keen. That despite the turbulent terrain of politics, the President submitted and subjected himself to this process. Indeed is a clear testimony that he believes in the democratic process and ideals.
The newly elected president should heal the wounds of the heated campaign exchanges by embracing those who contested alongside with him. The President must resist the temptation to see them as enemies; not even opponents, but fellow compatriots who merely disagreed with him on how best to move our country forward.
Now that the President has won his re-election bid, he should confront with renewed vigour the most urgent problem confronting Nigeria: ‘insecurity of lives and property’. The Boko Haram insurgency remains a threat to many Nigerians particularly in the North East sub region, while the twin evils of kidnapping and armed robbery/armed banditry remain a major national menace. The president must pay priority attention to these security issues.
The economy of the country must also occupy the president’s urgent attention. There is the need to be more creative in formulating policies that will improve the nation’s economy, create employment opportunities and give hope to our teaming youths.
The President may wish to heed to the yearnings of reasonable Nigerians for restructuring and seek all constitutional means to devolve some powers presently exercised by the Federal Government to the other tiers of government.
Let me commend and convey my admiration to the other contestants for the office of president.
I was particularly impressed with the gallant and audacious spirit of the main challenger in the presidential race, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar GCON. I was not surprised that even though he lost the most exotic position of the land, his doggedness and pattern of support cut across ethnic, religious and regional lines that earned him the second position of the last Presidential election.
I call on the former Vice –President Atiku Abubakar to close ranks and work with the winner of the election in an objective and constructive manner so that democracy will continue to thrive in our country at this crucial period of renaissance.
I urged him also to endeavour and prevail on his admirers to eschew bitterness and violence. They must be prevailed upon to understand that politics is a game in which there must be only one winner.
I pray that the Almighty Allah will continue to guide our democratic steps for peace and progress in our country.
General Ibrahim B Babangida GCFR
Former Military President,
Federal Republic of Nigeria.
2nd March 2019.