Sunday, February 4, 2018

Confusion trails Babangida’s statement asking Nigerians to vote out Buhari in 2019



Controversy on Sunday trailed a press statement allegedly released by former Nigerian head of state, Ibrahim Babangida, asking Nigerians to co-operate with President Muhammadu Buhari until his tenure ends - but vote for a new generation of leaders in 2019.

Hours later, another statement emerged saying Babangida has allegedly disowned the first press statement authored on his behalf by his spokesman Kassim Afegbua.

Afegbua in the statement said that Babangida advised President Muhammadu Buhari not to seek reelection. A source close to Afegbua insisted that Babangida did not issue any rebuttal.

Babangida, who overthrew Buhari in 1985 and ruled till 1993, allegedly said: “In the fullness of our present realities, we need to cooperate with President Muhammadu Buhari to complete his term of office on May 29th, 2019 and collectively prepare the way for new generation leaders to assume the mantle of leadership of the country. While offering this advice, I speak as a stakeholder, former president, concerned Nigerian and a patriot who desires to see new paradigms in our shared commitment to get this country running.

“While saying this also, I do not intend to deny President Buhari his inalienable right to vote and be voted for, but there comes a time in the life of a nation, when personal ambition should not override national interest. This is the time for us to reinvent the will and tap into the resourcefulness of the younger generation, stimulate their entrepreneurial initiatives and provoke a conduce environment to grow national economy both at the micro and macro levels.”

He said the 2019 elections offer “a unique opportunity for Nigerians”.

“The next election in 2019 therefore presents us a unique opportunity to reinvent the will and provoke fresh leadership that would immediately begin the process of healing the wounds in the land and ensuring that the wishes and aspirations of the people are realized in building and sustaining national cohesion and consensus,” Babangida allegedly said in the first statement.

But in a second statement, the former head of state was alleged to have said that he has unfettered access to Buhari would prefer to speak to him personally if he has any advice to offer him.

In one of the statements published by a national daily, Babangida allegedly said: “Let me categorically state that as former President and Statesman, I have unfettered channel of communication with the highest authorities without sensational public correspondence, therefore those views expressed over there are personal views of the writer.”

In another statement sent to The Guardian by a source close to the ruling All Progressives Congress, Babangida was quoted to have said that the initial statement by signed by his media aide “is in its entirety, an inaccurate representation of my view of the state of our dear Nation.”

Curiously, in the latter statement, however, the former head of state was given the national honour of the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON) usually reserved for occupants of the office of the vice president instead of Grand Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (GCFR).

Speaking on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics on Sunday night, Afegbua insisted that Babangida, a known member of the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) was in support of a generational change and has not instructed him to withdraw the statement.

He noted that the statement was not an open letter to Buhari but an indication of the former head of state’s impression of the state of the nation.
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