Former military president Ibrahim Babangida authorised the statement issued by his spokesman urging President Muhammadu Buhari not to stand for election in 2019.
Babangida’s spokesman, Prince Kazeem Afegbua said this in a television interview on Sunday, on the tail of a denial by Babangida and his issuance of another watered down statement.
Afegbua told Channels Television that the second statement personally signed by Babangida denying the first one was done by some of Babangida’s friends who did not want him to confront the Buhari administration.
“I have been doing this job for about 14 years now. And I have never issued a statement on behalf of the former head of state, which he rebutted. I got authorisation and commitment from him before I issued the statement. It has been in process,” he stated.
Afegbua said Babangida called him after the second statement went out.
“He has called me to say that the statement still stands,” he said.
“Of course, you know IBB is for everyone. People want to love him more than he loves himself. People want to appreciate him more than he appreciates himself. People want to play the role of IBB.
“So when the statement was released, some of his friends saw it and they felt we were trying to put the former president on a collision course with the president. So, they went and did a statement to deny that.
“But I have since spoken to him; he called me and said, that statement stands. The kernel of that statement should inform public discourse and not necessarily people personalising it as if it were to be against the sitting president.
“So, the statement stands and I have since communicated to all the media houses that they should respect that statement as coming from IBB. It did not emanate from my head. We sat down, we discussed and articulated them.
“General Babangida wants a new side of leadership, from the younger generation of Nigerians who in his own views have the resourcefulness, the energy and capacity to manage governmental affairs.
“He is not personalising his statement against the incumbent president. But he is saying, as a stakeholder and a concerned Nigerian, that he shares in the aspirations of the people.”
Babangida, known for his sly tactics that earned him the nickname of Maradona, presided over Nigeria between August 1985 and 1993. He succeeded Buhari as military head of state, after a bloodless coup.
Going by the statement by his spokesman, Babangida has become the second former leader to urge President Buhari not to stand for re-election. The first leader to do so was Olusegun Obasanjo, who issued a special statement two weeks ago, calling for a new set of leadership and asking a Third Force to form a National Coalition.
Here is Babangida’s second statement signed by him:
It has been drawn to my attention a press statement on the State of the nation, particularly 2019 general elections and beyond.
Let me categorically state that as former President and Statesman, I have an unfettered channel of communication with the highest authorities without sensational public correspondence, therefore those views expressed over there are personal views of the writer.
However, with due respect to individual opinion and constitutional rights, it is worrisome that Political events and civil unrest in many part of the country, has raised many questions on the governance and unity. Indeed 2018 is inundated with seasons of literatures on the corporate existence of this country. Many of such literatures have shown concerns of the corporate existence of Nigeria beyond 2019 general elections.
It will be recalled, that in my message to this year’s Armed Forces Remembrance Day, I specifically expressed the dire need for proactive measures to stop farmers/herders clashes in the middle belt, Cattle rustling, armed robbery, Kidnapping, gangsterism and Cultism. Our security agencies have to step up surveillance with more efforts on intelligence gathering for maximum success.
Recent happenings and utterances by political gladiators is alarming and not in the interest of common man that is already overstretched and apparently living from hand to mouth due to precarious economic conditions. Despite all these challenges, I am optimistic that the political actors will play within the ambits of political norms and decorum to ameliorate the problems facing our society now.
I am a realist that believes in all issues in a democratic atmosphere are sincerely discussed and resolved in the spirit of give and take. Since after my military years that metamorphosed to the only Military President in the history of Nigeria and my civilian life, I always have one clear objective that freedom can only be achieved through democracy. Some people find this freedom as an avenue for eroding democracy by antics of hate speeches under the guise of religion, tribal or self imposed mentorship. This trend of pitching political class and the people is unhealthy and skewed.
The clamour for re-alignment of governance in the country as we are approaching 2019 election year is a welcome development only if the agitations are genuinely channelled through legislation and total supremacy of the constitution. Any attempt outside this circle of democratic tenants is deceptive and divisive idea capable of plunging our political journey into disarray.
Our present political parties and their structures need parameter pillars that will make them more strong with unique ideologies. However, our present political parties need a surgical operation that will fusion them into a reasonable number. I have been an advocate of two-party systems but in our present reality in Nigeria, our political parties can fusion into strong political association/party that can form a formidable opposition to a ruling party.
As students of history, we are aware that many advanced democracies have two distinct ideological political parties, with a handful of smaller political parties that serve as buffer whenever any of the known political parties derailed or became unpopular. I still believe in two-party systems as the best option for Nigeria.
It is high time that we dialogue more on any issue in order to have a political solution on any problem affecting us. It is sad that Nigeria had its fair share of conflicts, and we cannot continue to fall back to those dark years of bloodshed.
As a people, now is the time to come together to address all Communal conflicts and criminality under any guise to further unite the country in line with the vision of our founding fathers so that as a nation, we can forge ahead in the task of building a more prosperous nation.
GENERAL IBRAHIM BADAMASI BABANGIDA GCFR, FORMER MILITARY PRESIDENT & COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF OF NIGERIAN ARMED FORCES.
1 UPHILL DRIVE, MINNA.
SUNDAY, 04TH FEBRUARY, 2018.