Ilorin — FORMER Chief of Army Staff General Ishaya Bamaiyi yesterday blamed former head of state General Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd) for the leadership crisis in the country since 1999, saying he strongly warned him against handing over the civilian government to any retired military ruler, particularly General Olusegun Obasanjo.
Speaking to reporters at the United Missionary Church of Africa (UMCA) in Ilorin, Kwara state, Bamaiyi also said subsequent happenings in the country have vindicated his stance.
General Bamaiyi, who was an honorary degree awardee of the church, however said Generals Ibrahim Babangida and Muhammadu Buhari have the constitutional right to contest for any elective post in the country. He however blamed Gen AbdulsalamiAbubakar and Chief Olusegun Obasanjo of their selfish interest.
“I think that they [IBB and Buhari] have a right as citizens of Nigeria to contest for any political office of their choice. But personally I feel vindicated because this
was the same reason I was sent to prison for eight years. I stood my ground on this issue when we were disengaging. But I think people did not see it the way I saw it’’, he said.
The former Army Chief also said, “They brought in Obasanjo who was then in prison just like I was. All the confusion we are having now, I believe, can be traced to the mistake of Abdulsalam Abubakar’s selfish, self-centred and unnecessary ambition.’’
He added, “Today, I stand vindicated because if they had listened to me then, there would not have been any confusion now’’.
‘’Obasanjo came in and destroyed this country and its cohesiveness as a nation. All that we are facing now can be linked to the activities of Obasanjo who was brought in by some certain individuals and I am surprised that these same selfish individuals are still battling to get involved in the governance of this country. I don’t know what they left behind that they are itching to come back and collect’’.
‘’I feel a very satisfied Nigerian today because when I look back I saw what they did not see and I believe that is the price we are paying today for some people’s selfish interest, including Abubakar and Obasanjo’’, he added.
He lamented the state of Nigerian prisons today, when he recapped his experiences saying “My perception of Nigerian prisons today is that even my enemy should not be sent there. I will not send my enemies to a prison in Nigeria. Our prisons are in a very bad shape and they are not in a position to reform anybody.
The worst thing that is happening to Nigerian prisons is the prison staff themselves. The prison staff are the ones who even need to be reformed. The environment is also very bad, due to—I don’t want to use the word corruption- –but greed.’’
‘’Our prisons are not built to rehabilitate anybody because nobody can be rehabilitated by the prisons in their present state and if you are going to start reforming you start from the prison staff themselves,’’ he added.
On how to get it right, Bamaiyi, who said he was not interested in politics but to serve his community and God, said “We will get it right when we are prepared to sacrifice, forget about money politics and choose people based on what they can give, and not what they give in the short term.’’
Mustafa Abubakar| 23 September 2010|Daily Trust (Abuja)|
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