In a tribute yesterday to the former South African president and post-apartheid icon, Babangida said that with the death of Mandela, the world has lost one of its best leaders.
The deceased, more than anyone else, he said, exemplified what good leadership is all about.
The former Nigerian military dictator, who spoke to reporters at his hill-top mansion Minna, Niger State, said Africa should be proud that God blessed the continent with a man and leader in Mandela whose life and time impacted humanity and the world at large.
“The world has lost one of its best leaders. We should take solace in the fact that his life and his time were something that everybody in the world should be proud of his achievements,” he said.
“Mandela had a moral conviction and his moral conducts was very, very high and powerful. He made sure that what he believed in he stood for it. I think those are very good lessons.
“He displayed one thing which is un-African: he stayed in power for one term which he thought was noble and he allowed the younger generations like Thambo Mbeki to take over from him”.
He recalled that the late Mandela held Nigeria in high esteem during his life time.
“I recall that when he was released from prison, Nigeria was the first country he visited because of our role as one of the frontline states that helped to dismantle apartheid and installed a popular government in South Africa.
“Mandela held Nigeria in high esteem. This he acknowledged when he visited Nigeria”, Babangida, who was Nigeria’s Head of State at the time, said.
The retired army general also spoke on his personal relationship with the Mandelas.
“About three weeks ago, his former wife (Winnie) sent her daughter to give me a book which she has just published and that shows you that the relationship is very, very cordial”, he noted.