Former military president, General Ibrahim Babangida (rtd), yesterday cautioned those fanning the embers of mutiny and discord in the country, saying it is unhealthy for anyone to pitch the political class against the great mass of Nigerians.
This is the first time IBB, as he is fondly called by admirers, is lending his voice against recent remarks discrediting the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, the latest being the statement released by former President Olusegun Obasanjo two weeks ago asking the president not to seek reelection on grounds of underperformance.
This culminated in the official launch of the Coalition for Nigerians, a political movement the former president described as a third force constituted to take Nigerians to the promised land.
Cautioning against pitching the political against the people, the former military president also denied issuing a statement asking President Muhammadu Buhari not to run for a second term in office in the forthcoming presidential election.
Following IBB’s refutation of the statement, the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Kpotum-Idris has ordered the arrest of media aide to the former military president, Prince Kassim Afegbua, for issuing a fake statement on behalf of Babangida.
A reliable presidency source who confirmed this development to our correspondent yesterday said, “The IGP has ordered for the arrest of Kassim Afegbua for issuing a fake statement. He was advised to submit himself to the force headquarters within 24 hours or face arrest”.
Afegbua, had in the statement quoted IBB as saying: “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”.
But in the rebuttal, Babangida said, “It has been drawn to my attention a press statement purportedly issued by me, on the State of the nation, particularly 2019 general elections and beyond.
“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 a statement he issued in Minna yesterday, IBB who gave the challenge yesterday noted that as the next general election approaches, there is need for all hands to be on deck in ensuring success of the polls.
Babandiga lamented that some individuals take advantage of the current freedom in the country to foment trouble.
His words: “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 channeled through legislation and total supremacy of the constitution.
“Any attempt outside this circle of democratic tenets is deceptive and divisive idea capable of plunging our political journey into disarray”.
The former military president who declared that political parties in the country are in dire need of surgical operation in order to fusion them into a reasonable number added that the parties and their structures need parameter pillars that will make them stronger with unique ideologies.
“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”, he noted.
Babangida, in the statement, also described as worrisome the spate of political events and civil unrest in many part of the country, which he said has raised many questions on issues of governance and unity.
Noting that 2018 is inundated with seasons of literatures on the corporate existence of the country, he stressed that many of such literatures have shown concerns of the corporate existence of Nigeria beyond the 2019 general election.
He said, “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 are alarming and not in the interest of the 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”.
He further observed that it was high time that Nigerians dialogued “more on any issue in order to have a political solution on any problem affecting” them.
IBB pointed out that, while Nigeria has had its fare share of conflicts, the country cannot continue to fall back to those dark years of bloodshed.
Accordingly, he called on all Nigerians to address all communal conflicts and criminality under any guise.
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