Babangida, a major player in the country’s power politics, was involved in all the major putsches that threw up military regimes from 1976 . He ruled the country maximally between August 27, 1985 and August 26, 1993 after annulling the June 12 presidential election of that year that was reputed to be the freest and fairest in the nation’s history.
As a soldier during the civil war and one of those who held the country together and who even charted a course of democracy, even though not generally seen as a sincere venture, Babangida is a strong voice whose call is capable of drawing out other ex-military chiefs to take a stand in the ongoing debate.
While seeking a departure from the norm and calling for a reform that will put the country on the same pedestal with advanced democracies, he said: “If we have repeatedly done certain things and not getting the desired results, we need to change tactics and approach, and renew our commitment. It is our collective responsibilities to engender a reform that would be realistic and in sync with modern best practices.
“For example, restructuring has become a national appeal as we speak, whose time has come. I will strongly advocate devolution of powers to the extent that more responsibilities be given to the states while the Federal Government is vested with the responsibility to oversee our foreign policy, defence, and economy.
“Even the idea of having federal roads in towns and cities has become outdated and urgently needs revisiting. That means we need to tinker with our constitution to accommodate new thoughts that will strengthen our nationality.
“Restructuring and devolution of powers will certainly not provide all the answers to our developmental challenges; it will help to reposition our mindset as we generate new ideas and initiatives that would make our union worthwhile.
“The talk to have the country restructured means that Nigerians are agreed on our unity in diversity; but that we should strengthen our structures to make the union more functional based on our comparative advantages.
“Added to this desire is the need to commence the process of having state police across the federation. This idea was contained in my manifesto in 2010 when I attempted to contest the presidential elections.
“The initial fear that state governors will misuse the officers and men of the state police has become increasingly eliminated with renewed vigour in citizens’ participation in, and confidence to interrogate power.
“Policing has become so sophisticated that we cannot continue to operate our old methods and expect different results. I also want to appeal to the Nigeria media to be more circumspect in their news reportage.”
Until now, the lone voice from the northern part of the country for restructuring has been that of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar. Most leaders from the region have often strongly condemned the call for restructuring. They see it as an attempt that would threaten the unity of the country.
It is in this vein that President Muhammadu Buhari has consistently opposed the 2014 conference report that recommends the restructuring of the country.