Former military president, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (rtd) has risen in defense of Nigerians against repressive moves of the All Progressives Congress (APC) led Federal Government to gag the press and abridge the right of Nigerians to free speech, saying that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal government cannot intimidate Nigerians.
He said this during an interview with Arise TV at his Hilltop mansion in Minna, the Niger State capital.
Answering a question on media repression and intimidation of journalists, the government’s measures against press freedom, Twitter ban, as well as the threat to prosecute social media users, all of which triggered local and international condemnation, Babangida waved it all aside, saying that the Buhari administration was wasting its time with actions targeted at free press and access to information.
“Nigerians are wonderful people, I always say this. You cannot intimidate them”, he said.
He denied that he muzzled the media during his regime, pointing out that he deserves credit for breaking the monopoly in the broadcast industry.
He said:“I didn’t stifle the media. I liberalized the media. That is why today you have several private media stations.”
Babangida accused the press of stigmatizing himwith the name evil genius, saying that he never called himself such. “I did not call myself evil genius or Maradona, the media did,” he said, adding: “But I am happy with the meaning of Maradona. The definition, according to the media, is someone with deep political moves.”