Babangida owes Nigerians apology – Oshiomhole
All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain Adams Oshiomhole said yesterday that former Military President and restructuring advocate General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida owes the nation an apology for helping to bring it to its present level.
Oshiomhole also said that the clamour for diversification of the economy cannot succeed unless it begins with the oil and gas sector which, he said, employs about 40 percent of the working population.
The former Edo State governor, who was represented by the General Secretary of the National Union of Textile, Garment and Tailoring Workers, Comrade Issa Aremu, at the 5th Triennial Delegates Conference of the Petroleum And Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) in Abuja, said it was under the Babangida regime that “the economy was restructured” and the naira devalued.
The former National President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), who was the guest speaker, spoke on the theme: “Emerging trends in the oil and gas industry and impacts on Labour Movement in Nigeria’’.
Oshiomhole argued that a lot of misinformation was being fed to youths – that the Nigerian nation was too big and, therefore, needed to be divided. Nigerians must be careful about the ongoing clamour for restructuring and quit notice to fellow Nigerians to leave their place of residence, he said.
He advocated a review of the constitution to replace citizenship with residency, pointing out that indigeneship should not have a place in the constitution.
Admitting that the former Nigerian leader may have been converted, Oshiomhole said Nigeria “should not be a debating society, but a production economy.
“The discussion now is about restructuring and I think those of us in the Labour circle must be careful about some words. I heard Babangida talking about restructuring. Although he could have been converted, this is a man under whose tenure the cabinet was dissolved and for almost a month, he was alone, ruling the country.
“I thought that he should have apologised to the whole country, but there is nothing like that from him. But it is now fashionable for him to talk about restructuring. It was under him that the economy was restructured. He devalued the currency and downsized workers. It is important that we prioritise these terms.”
In the former governor’s view, “what we need to do is organise and not agonise. Let us quit our problems and not quit ourselves. We are giving quit notice to ourselves and as Nigerians we cannot afford that,” he said, adding:
“We are just victims of xenophobic attacks. How can we be looking for global sympathy when misguided South African youths are attacking other African countries that fought for their liberation only to come back home and be giving quit notices to ourselves.
“I think we should quit poverty, lack of electricity, import dependency, exporting crude oil and importing refined products, unemployment, but we should not quit ourselves. It is time for us to make a case for the amendment of the constitution in such a way that residency should replace citizenship, not indigeneship.
“There are many workers who have worked outside their homes for several years more than their home states. They should have a right to remain there, contest election. I think that is the way to go. Nigerian leaders should think ahead. Africa is the way it is now because Nigerians are no longer on duty. We must regain Nigeria for posterity. What we need is development and not disintegration.
“Development is the way to go. South Sudan was lured into having a new country and today, they are in a permanent state of war within themselves. Nigeria cannot afford that. Nigeria should not only remain united, but lead the campaign for a United states of Africa.”