Speeches Made Between 1985 -1988
The speeches of President Babangida during this period provided the vision, the dream, the picture, and the map of what kind of society he had wished to see Nigeria become in the future. This vision of Nigeria which he articulated within two months of his assumption of power became the prop upon which several of the important speeches he made between 1985 and 1989 revolved. It informed the liberalization of the economy in the form of the programme of structural adjustment and the democratization of the political process in the form of the transition to civil rule programme, and protection of human rights. The consciousness built into the speeches were to act as concrete measures to recreate and re-fashion the foundations of the political economy of Nigeria. The speeches were diagnostic and prognostic so as to get to grips with the fundamental relationships between the economy, society and polity. The speeches also conveyed the personality of BABANGIDA as one engaged in an appointment with history in the sense that the nation was badly and justifiably in dire need of an achieving leader, someone to pull it out of its socio-economic and political doldrums. BABANGIDA appeared to fulfil this urgent national expectation.
Right from the inception of the BABANGIDA regime, the paradox was quite clear that the policies and programmes were going to deal with the Nigerian human predicament. At the same time BABANGIDA was going to play the role of the statesman who had to exercise his will power in order to transform the Nigerian nation-state. Thus, for BABANGIDA, governance was both a design problem and a social engineering system; and the exercise of transformation was to be undertaken as a learning process. Perhaps, this would explain why he was philosophically opposed to social extremism or “undue radicalism” in fashioning government policies and programmes. BABANGIDA was deeply committed to liberalism both in economics and politics.
It was not too clear, however, whether he was equally conscious about the costs and hazards of liberalization and democratization in terms of the conflicts and contradictions which would arise from policy outcome. Consequently, BABANGIDA had had to plough through a maze of conflicting and sometimes very dangerous and violent reactions to the effects of his policies and programmes. In this maze of manoeuvre, the President showed the capability of a military regime, yet maintained the elusiveness and skills of a gifted statesman. It was the unique combination of these political skills that created, rightly or wrongly, for BABANGIDA the image of a master political drBabangidaler or “maradona”.
It is difficult to arrange President Babangida’s speeches on a precise list of subjects or topics: however, it would be equally difficult to organize a platform for systematic knowledge sharing and discourse without some topical arrangements . The list of subjects below are therefore arranged on the basis of the varying perspectives, empirical or theoretical, which the speeches represented and covered within the specified period.