Since the past few weeks, the palatial home of former Military Head of State, President Ibrahim Babangida, has been playing host to dozens of PDP presidential aspirants who have been thronging the Hilltop mansion to consult with the retired army General and as well seek his endorsement, writes ABU NMODU
The Hilltop home of former Military President, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, has once again turned to a melting pot of various political actors as the 2019 general elections draw nearer.
But unlike in the past where such visitors cut across political parties, recent visitors to his home were mostly People Democratic Party (PDP) chieftains and presidential aspirants.
As usual, their meetings with him were held behind closed door and details of their discussions, were not made public, giving rooms for speculations. Whereas the former Military President announced his exit from partisan politics over seven years ago, his house has remained a consultation point.
Some of the recent visitors to his home included the National Chairman of the Party, Uche Secondus, Senate President Bukola Saraki and former Senate President David Mark. Both Saraki and Mark were with Babangida for blessing and consultation over their presidential ambition.
Unlike in 2015 when supporters of the party would escort such aspirants to IBB, in this dispensation only Kabiru Tanimu Turaki one of the presidential aspirants visited with his supporters and the even was held in the open.
Among the aspirants, Turaki was the first to visit, except of course Sokoto State governor Aminu Tambuwal, whom LEADERSHIP findings revealed often visit especially at unexpected hours.
Tanimu Turaki, a former Minister under former President Goodluck Jonathan-led administration who is said to be a very loyal ally of the former president was the first to visit on July 17th and the General has always the case, said he saw something good in the vision of the aspirant.
By his nature , IBB hardly allows his visitors leave his house without any hope , as such he was very much at home with some of the visions of Turaki. General Babangida stated that the unity of Nigeria and Federal system were ‘certain issues’ in Nigeria polity and politicians should not jeopardize the vision of founding fathers of Nigeria and therefore supported the agenda of Kabiru Tanimu Turaki on those key areas
IBB observed that the items of the agenda of the aspirant are capable of “transforming the country of our dream, saying that “ we strive in whatever we do to keep the unity of Nigeria. So the unity of this country we have always considered as “certain issues” in the Nigerian political parlance. I’m happy that that is utmost in your (Turaki) mind. I hope it will apply to each an every one of you and the people.”
“This is a narrative that must be sank into the ears and minds of the ordinary people. Unless, we are united we can’t be able to achieve a lot. So, I am particularly impressed about your ( concept of unity” IBB further told Turaki
He noted further that “I am also happy that as far as you are concerned the concept of presidential system of government is also a certain issue in the Nigeria project. And I want to commend you for all of that. It means that you are narrowing the areas of conflict, so that we will be able to live together as a people, with a common purpose”.
He stated that the ideas of Turaki were ideas that even the founding fathers of Nigeria in the course of governance have already thought about it.“ Chief Awolowo talked about a federal Nigeria. The same thing with Sardauna of Sokoto, the same thing with Zik, the same thing with Tafawa Balewa, all talking about federalism “ he said.to the Presidential aspirant
Consequently he submitted to Turaki “So, we have all accepted that Federal System of Government is what we are going to adopt in this country. So, I endorsed your idea about how Nigeria should be, and I want to commend you and your teams for making sure that what our forefathers, makers of Nigeria have in mind, you want to realize that vision\”
The PDP presidential aspirant had earlier solicited the support of the former military president for the realisation of his 2019 presidential ambition saying he had all that was needed to improve the country.
The next presidential aspirant to visiy IBB was Ahmed Makarfi, former governor of Kaduna state and a presidential aspirant, who was the Interim Chairman of PDP before handing over to the incumbent National Chairman, Uche Secondus. He visited on August 4th.
The visit of Makarfi was not put at public domain.
In the same vein, Saraki visited on 8th August amid intense political pressure to quit his seat of Senate president, he held a closed door meeting with the former Military president.
Saraki, unlike other IBB visitors did not visit PDP secretariat but was received at the Minna Airport at about 3:58 pm by the Niger State Commissioner for Investment, Mudi Mohammed, based on the usual protocol extended to the dignitaries of his calibre who visit the state.
The Senate President arrived IBB house at about 4:25 pm, accompanied by Senator Shaba Lafiagi and Hakim Baba Ahmed with a few of their aides who waited as the meeting was going on. He was ushered straight upstairs where IBB was waiting for him with only the duo left upstairs in a meeting that ended at about 5:48 pm. He departed Minna airport around 6:22pm.
Sources attributed this to the possibility that IBB might have offered useful advice to him in order to help him out of the ongoing struggle to retain his seat as Senate President and also pursue his presidential aspiration.
It did come as a surprise that barely a week that he left up hill Minna, he gave an indication to the possibility of his presidential aspiration. He had announced few days after that he may seek for the presidential ticket of PDP a party that he was announced as the leader.
A few days later, former governor of Jigawa state, Sule Lamido, and presidential aspirant, also visited Babangida.
After Lamido, the National Chairman of PDP Uche Secodus visited on the 16th of August, though details of ten visit was not made public, it was learnt that it was part of the moves to ensure about peaceful primaries in the party.
The chairman of the party was said to be consulting on the way to bring about consensus and therefore was in the crucial closed door meeting with IBB.
IBB, though has been passive in partisan politics since he announced his exit from PDP and partisan politics but somehow some active players in his former party have always found a way to drag his name into their affairs.
Known not to outrightly turn down visitors of such national might, IBB, it was gathered has being more statesmanlike and frank to his visitors as they made his house a melting pot for political counseling.
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