Former Military President, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (retd) has stated that the reason the June 12, 1993, presidential election was widely regarded as the freest and fairest in the country’s political history was simply because comprehensive civic responsibility education of potential voters was carried out.
The former ruler, who made this known in an exclusive interview with LEADERSHIP Sunday at his hilltop mansion in Minna, Niger State, at the weekend, further explained that people were motivated to perform their duty to their country by giving them the assurance that their votes would count during the June election.
“I think we did the best we could at that time to carry along everybody by educating everybody to do their civic responsibility, that they have to be part of it, their vote will count and all that, before going into the election. I think they have been motivated to play their duty to this country”, he said.
According to the retired general, whose regime annulled the June 12, 1993, presidential elections that was won by Chief MKO Abiola, the same free, fair and credible elections could be replicated in 2015 if there would be commitment to educating the people to understand their civic responsibilities.
On his aspirations for Nigeria’s next general election, Babangida said, “I think I look forward to see free, fair, credible and rancour-free, peaceful election in 2015 — commitment to the votes of the country, commitment to the well-being of the country and commitment to everything that is good for this country.
“So, it shows you that credible, free, fair election is doable because during our time those who participated in the election were Nigerians; the same Nigerians are still alive. So I think it is doable; it’s a good lesson that we should carry along”.
Sharing his thoughts on the annulled presidential election that was widely regarded as the freest and fairest, the former Nigerian leader said, “I feel really elated, I feel good because the elections were conducted during my leadership as an undemocratically elected president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.
Asked whether he has any regret for annulling the June 12 election, he said: “It depends. I superintended that election — if I should put it that way. Everything to do with the election; the structure that time, because I was the president that time and I have no way but to accept the full responsibility for what happened. I accept the full responsibility for conducting the best election and I also accept the responsibility that it was annulled”.