Former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, has said that his transition programme to civilian rule about 22 years ago would have been truncated if he had succumbed to pressure from some notable Nigerian politicians who pressurised him to extend his stay in office.
Abubakar, who succeeded the late Sani Abacha’s killer regime, had promised to hand over to a democratically elected civilian government after nine months in office which he did.
According to Vanguard, the former Head of State spoke at his residence in Minna, Niger State, in an interview with journalists.
“There was no pressure on me to hand over to the civilians from any quarters but on the contrary, some Nigerians especially the politicians were asking me to prolong my stay because at first when I said we were going to hand over, nobody believed where the military was going. But when they realised that we were leaving and because their fingers had been burnt twice because that was not the first time the military would be saying it was going; so the politicians hesitated to participate in the political activities.
“However, it was when they saw that we really meant business that they now came back and they said, why don’t you prolong your stay so that we can now be part and parcel of the upcoming democracy in the country?
“So we were not pressurised besides the normal agitation of the then various groups who were asking the military to go.
“I have no regret to have handed over to the civilians but rather, I am fulfilled by handing over power to a democratically elected government because today, Nigeria is being asked by the international community to safeguard democracy especially when the era of coup is gradually coming back into West Africa and Africa as a whole.
“It is possible for some to say this is not the democracy we want but again I will say nation-building is a continuous process and I believe that as we go on, our politics will change. I want to believe that our electorates are now better informed and I pray and hope that in the next election, they will not sell their voters cards, they will not sell their dignity to allow their voters’ cards to be bought and thus allowing democracy to further flourish.”
On the frequent agitations across the country especially on secession, General Abubakar called on the present administration to look into their demands and bring everybody on board.