I Am A Saint Compared To The Government We Have Today- IBB Says

Former Military Head of state, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida described
members of his administration as saints and angels compared to those in
power today. IBB made this remark during an interview with EFCC’s
internal correspondence “Zero Tolerance”

“Let me tell you something, maybe you have a
hand in it. I have been the most investigated President Nigeria has
ever had. By now, somebody should have come forward to say here it is.
Every government that came after me investigated me because of that
perception as they wanted to retrieve the billions I stole. Well, we had
different approaches. I think my government was able to identify
corruption-prone areas and checked them. If you remember in this
country, there were things they call essential commodities. These are
also sources of corruption. You go and buy Omo or food or whatever it
is and we got government to take its hands off such activities. Let
people use their own brains, hands and labour, nobody has to do it for
them. So we did but I am proud to say that was much more effective. I
don’t have the facts but if what I read in the newspapers is currently
what is happening then I think we were angels” he said

IBB says the perception that his government institutionalized
corruption is incorrect, arguing that with the little his
administration was making from oil they could do what they did but with
the much the present administration is making from oil, much is still
left to be desired

“Yeah, I know. Maybe I have to accept
that but anybody with a sense of fairness has no option but to call us
saints. I give you an example, in a year I was making less than
$7billion in oil revenue. In the same period, there are governments
that are making $200billion to $300billion. With $7billion, I did the
little I could achieve. With $200billion, there is still a lot to be
achieved.”he said

On the $12.4billion oil windfall from the 1991 Gulf War which many
believed was stolen by his government, Babangida insisted the money was
not stolen.

“First of all, that war lasted three
months, about ninety something days. It didn’t last up to a year. So
get the facts straight. Secondly, the oil price at that time was below
$18 per barrel. So, there is no way you could make $12.4billion in
three months. We could not have made that amount of money but Pius
Okigbo knew what he was doing. He had brains and he said between 1986
or 1988 to 1994, monies accrued to the Federal Government at that time
was about that money you are calling windfall. He said so. It is there
in his book. Then the other thing he said, the monies could have gone
into generative investment. I am not an economist but I have an
understanding of what this is. Our argument then was if you have the
money, why keep it and be looking at it when you have a lot of things
that will benefit the ordinary man. So that money was not stolen. It is
what you see now in the country. Thank God most of the infrastructure
we put in place are what you are using today and proudly so.”

Gen Babangida says the gains from the oil boom was used in the
development of infrastructures such as the FCT Abuja and the third
mainland bridge in Lagos amongst others

“Abuja for example, I built Abuja.
Today, we have a brand new capital. We used that money. I gave you a
Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos. You cannot build it now for all the
money Nigeria is making. And what did it cost me? N500million,
N600million, N700million. For the first time, a dual carriage way was
seen in the Northern part of the country between Kaduna and Kano and
then linked it up from Abuja. You cannot afford to do it now; you
cannot even afford to touch it because there are a lot of competing
needs.”he said

IBB who announced the annulment of the June 12
election in which business mogul Late Chief Moshood Abiola was
adjudged the winner, accepted that the election was a credible election

“Yes, it (June 12)
is a day in the history of Nigeria and the day the most credible
election was held. We gave you a lot of reasons but I understood the
passion. At that time, everybody was fed up. The sentiment was:  just
pack your things and go. Our thought process is very limited. First of
all, on June 23, 1993, I was on the air and I told Nigerians why we
had to do what we did but I was sensible enough to know that whatever I
said nobody was interested. So, the important thing is get out.”he
said

Speaking about his investments, Babangida said he is a major
shareholder in a bank but failed to mention the name of the bank or the
value of his shares in the bank.

On how he built his Hilltop Mansion in Minna, Babangida said:

“I cannot estimate because it has
appreciated. I know what my friends spent. No, my friends contributed.
They were friends before we came into government and friends while I
was in government. I started building it in 1991, took two to three
years so that by the time I finished, I would have a house to sleep
in.”

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