The Crest Exclusive
BY SHOLA OSHUNKEYE, TAIWO FAROTIMI & MIKE OJOOBANIKAN/in Minna
Former Military President, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, has taken a critical look at the gale of defections from the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, to the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and declared that the development is great for Nigeria democracy.
General Babangida, who ruled Nigeria from August 27, 1985, to August 26, 1993, made the declaration at his Hilltop Mansion in Minna, the Niger State capital, on Tuesday, when he hosted top executives of The Crest.
After watching the live coverage of the defection of 14 senators on national television, with the former Head of State, The Crest Executives had asked him what he felt about the development.
Belching his characteristic catchy smile, Babangida replied in four words: “This is political dexterity.”
Asked to expatiate, he declared: “I call it political dexterity because there are no better words to describe it. This is political dexterity and I don’t think anybody should have any problems with that. I have nothing against it. I think it is good for democracy. If it is good for democracy, then, it is good for Nigeria.”
Still, Babangida did not quit. He continued:
“If people left APC to form R-APC, they must have a solid reason or reasons for doing that. If 12 Senators got to a point where they felt their continued stay in APC was not working and decided to leave, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Similarly, if the other two senators felt that their stay in APC was no longer worth their while and decided to join ADC (African Democratic Congress), they have not committed any crime.
“I think the development is good for democracy. Democracy is about choices; it is about the freedom to choose. In the democratic system that we practise, you can always disagree if you feel what you see in the system does not agree with your expectation.”
The former Military President also reacted to the soaring notion that some past Heads of State and retired Generals have ganged up and, indeed, mapped strategies to upstage President Muhammadu Buhari and his party, the APC, in the 2019 general elections.
“Gang up?” General Babangida asked. “What gang-up? That is a media creation. It is media perception. It is easier for the media to add up things and conclude. I think what has happened is that after General Danjuma said what he said (about the alleged genocide in his home state of Taraba and the need for his people to defend themselves because the military had failed to protect them), after President Obasanjo released his letter, and perhaps, after my release too, the media simple added things up and came to the conclusion that there is a gang up. There is no gang up. It is media perception.”
This week has, indeed, been packed full of hyper political activities that could shape the outcome of next year’s general elections.
For instance, Nigerians woke up on Tuesday to what some political pundits have described as a political tsunami when 14 senators and 37 House of Representatives members cross-carpeted from the ruling APC to the opposition PDP and the African Democratic Congress, ADC.
The defection train moved some notches up on Wednesday as, after weeks of speculations, Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State returned to PDP. On Thursday, government sources in Sokoto said Governor Aminu Tambuwal and the entire APC leadership in Sokoto State are set to move to PDP next week.
The situation is the same in Kwara State where Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed and his followers have reportedly met with national leaders of the PDP to, as an insider put it, “cross the ‘Ts’ and dot the “i” as they concluded talks to defect to PDP. The insider further informed that the defection will happen next week baring last minute hitches.
To cap it all, Ahmed’s political godfather, Dr. Bukola Saraki, President of the Senate, who narrowly escaped impeachment, on Tuesday, is widely believed to be on his way out of the APC to reunite with his former party, PDP.
The police had lay siege to the residences of Saraki and Ike Ekweremadu, his deputy, Tuesday morning, ostensibly to prevent them from presiding over the day’s plenary and thus pave the way for a change of leadership in the Senate.
The question on the lips of most Nigerians now is: How would all these end? And, where would these developments leave Nigeria, post 2019? Both are profound posers that only time can answer.
The story has just begun. This is just a tip of the iceberg from the exclusive interview General Babangida granted to The Crest. Watch out for the big deal, the full interview; only in The Crest.