Former military president, General Ibrahim Babangida, saturday called on the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, to consider running for a higher office based on his outstanding performance in the running of the affairs of the lower chamber.
Babangida said Tambuwal's performance and conduct in office had shown that he had the capacity "to sustain the labour of our heroes past."
"When leaders like Tamuwal delivered on their electoral promise, we advise them to try something higher. For Tambuwal, your guess is as good as mine. Well done," Babangida said.
The former military president made these remarks at the investiture of Vanguard Man of the Year Award held at the Eko Hotel and Suites, in Lagos. The award was presented to Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi, with Access Bank Managing Director Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede as runners-up.
Babangida's comments came amid the crisis rocking his party, the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, which many have attributed to the inordinate ambitions of some key players in the current political dispensation. Both Tambuwal and Amaechi are also members of PDP.
To Babangida, to resolve many of the troubles with the polity, emphasis should be on deepening the democratic process and enhancing the welfare of the people, who, according to him, are the repository of power. He said both the political actors and the people in the street should begin to reconstruct their thoughts and engagements on the basis of free choice, credible elections, inclusive participation and constructive engagement.
"We must make the votes count in order to produce leaders such as Governor Amaechi and create an enabling environment for free enterprise to nurture and groom professionals like Aig-Imoukhuede. There must be synergy between the processes that produce leaders and the institutions that nurture such leadership," Babangida said.
He said Amaechi was not just one of the governors with whom he was well pleased, but one that had been able to make a bold impression on promise and performance in the Nigerian political space as the country grappled with challenges of development and good governance.
Babangida aligned himself with the governor in his conviction that the federating units should be allowed to enjoy some level of independence and exploit their comparative advantage, saying, however, that this stance often gets him into trouble.
He said concerning Amaechi, "I do not envy him. With leaders who are brutally frank about issues and the politics of transition, leaders who are driven by their convictions like Amaechi and Aig-Imoukhuede, Nigeria still has tremendous hope."
The former military president stressed the need for Nigerians to make the Nigerian project work, adding that a marriage that has survived almost 100 years can no longer be said to be an accident.
"We should desire to be Nigerians whose hearts and minds flood with abiding faith in our nation's virtue and generosity , and above all, as citizens whose relation to society is untormented by mutual suspicion, ethnicity and political differences," he said.