…says Nigeria needs renewal
Former Minister of Aviation, Chief Osita Chidoka has called on the Federal government to learn from our recent past, especially the Babangida administration in confronting the current challenges facing the country.
As Gen Babangida willingly restructured Nigeria from a State-run enterprise to a private sector-led economy, “the government should voluntarily restructure from a federal government-controlled entity to a more diversified control structure”.
This, Chidoka said, can be achieved through federal government retreat from the operational control of items in the concurrent list like education, health and security management.
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 that the “situation in Nigeria today bears strong similarity to the 1985 situation with declining oil revenues, high running cost of government, high debt rate, foreign exchange crisis and increasing political tension in the country”.
Chidoka recalled that at the advent of Gen Babangida at the age of 44 years, he moved quickly to reduce the tension in the land, released political prisoners, abrogated draconian laws, brought in topflight academics into government, increased private sector participation in the economy through liberalisation, deregulation and privatisation.
According to him, “President Babangida’s institution of a debate about the IMF loan, constitution of the Samuel Cookey Commission to design a new political order can be emulated today to stem the drift to anarchy and halt the rapidly worsening economic condition in the country”.
Chidoka, in a 16 minutes speech delivered via video conference described the economic policies of the Babangida regime that gave rise to Banks like GTB, Zenith and Access Bank as momentous in our national history.
“How a 44 years old soldier without any economic training, working with the finest minds of his time, figured out these policies and followed through with them, is a mark of his ingenuity. Today GT Bank is N455 billion revenue business larger than the internally generated revenues of any state in Nigeria and more than the combined internally generated revenues of the bottom 25 states.”
“The 2020 profits of GT, Access and Zenith banks at about N590 billion Naira is bigger than the combined budgets of Anambra, Benue, Ekiti, Zamfara and Yobe States. This is a testament to what can happen when government enables business.
“Gen. Babangida took some revolutionary steps, he practically unlocked the potential of Nigerians. The media space was opened up, the security services were restructured, rural development was given priority attention, young entrepreneurs blossomed on the back of banking, insurance and art space. IBB allowed Nigerians to take control of their destinies” Chidoka explained.
The former Aviation Minister urged the government of the day to borrow a leaf from the IBB “More than ever before, there is need to renew the idea of Nigeria. At no time in our history has questions about the future and viability of Nigeria as state reared its head like today, The growing emotional and now physical disconnection by young Nigerians through migration needs to be controlled through national engagement like IBB regime did.
Chidoka who is also, the founder of the UnlockNaija Movement, a volunteer organisation committed to the renewal of the idea of Nigeria paid tribute to Gen. Babangida for unlocking Nigeria’s potentials laying the foundation for what he called Naija Nation.
“Today two Nigeria have evolved, we have Naija where the youths are blazing the trail in technology, music and arts without the obstructive role of Nigeria where ethnicity, religion and corruption had held back the march to nationhood. The foundation of that Naija space was laid by the Gen Babangida administration. The spirit of free enterprise, vibrant media and conscious social mobilisation combined to create the Naija space which is growing despite the challenges of the Nigerian State.”
Chidoka therefore called for a new leadership that will renew the idea of Nigeria and unlock the possibilities of a vibrant black nation providing a counter narrative to the current African story.
Wishing him a happy birthday and many more years in good health, Chidoka asked the former President to “quickly tell his story in writing to enrich our history and create first hand reference material for future generations.”