Former military President, General Ibrahim Babangida, has denied any gang-up against President Muhammadu Buhari by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, General Theophilus Danjuma and himself.
General Babangida, who ruled Nigeria from August 27, 1985 to August 26, 1993, made the declaration on Tuesday at his Hilltop Mansion in Minna, the Niger State capital, in an interview with The Crest, an online newspaper, a part of which was released Friday night.
The former military president was asked to react to the soaring notion that some past heads of state and retired Generals have ganged up and mapped strategies to upstage President Buhari and his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), in the 2019 general election.
“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 things up 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 simply added things up and came to the conclusion that there is a gang-up. There is no gang-up. It is media perception,” Babangida said.
He also took a critical look at the gale of defections from the ruling APC to the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and declared that the development was great for Nigeria’s democracy.
After watching the coverage of the defection of 14 senators live on national television with the former president, The Crest said it asked him what he felt about the development and 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.
- Nigeria is divided —Obasanjo
“If people left the APC to form R-APC [Reformed All Progressives Congress], 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 the 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.”
This week has, indeed, been packed full of hyper political activities that could shape the outcome of next year’s general election.
On Tuesday, 14 senators and 37 House of Representatives members defected from the ruling APC to the opposition PDP and the African Democratic Congress (ADC).
On Wednesday, after weeks of speculations, Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State returned to the PDP. On Thursday, government sources in Sokoto said Governor Aminu Tambuwal and the entire APC leadership in Sokoto State are set to move to the 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 ‘t’s’ and dot the “i’s” as they concluded talks to defect to the PDP.
The insider added that the defection would happen next week, barring any last-minute hitches.
To cap it all, Ahmed’s political godfather, Dr Bukola Saraki, the 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, the PDP.
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