I’m open to talks with Jonathan, others – Says IBB (Nigerian Newspaper)
ABUJA — FORMER Military President, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, said, yesterday, that he was yet to seal a deal to support President Goodluck Jonathan in the forthcoming presidential election, affirming that he was still open to supporting the President or any of his major rivals.
The former Head of State who was an aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, also drew a distinction between ongoing talks between the President and the Mallam Adamu Ciroma-led Northern Political Leaders Forum, NPLF, on one hand and discussions between the President and himself, Babangida as a person.
Affirming his continued belief in the principles and philosophy of zoning, Babangida said he was, nevertheless, open to constructive dialogue with all presidential candidates from all sections of the country, if not, then for the unity and stability of the country.
A statement issued on behalf of the former military ruler by his media spokesman, Prince Kassim Afegbua, said that Gen. Babangida’s response was in reaction to recent claims of a deal between the NPLF and Jonathan that would restrict the President to a single term tenure.
Calls by numerous supporters
The statement entitled ‘No Deal With President Goodluck Jonathan’ read thus: “We have been inundated with telephone calls and text messages from our numerous supporters nationwide over the news report that indicated that a deal had been sealed between President Goodluck Jonathan and former Military President, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida.
On behalf of General Ibrahim Babangida, GCFR, I wish to state that up till this date, Tuesday, February 22, 2011, no deal has been sealed.
“Let me state in very clear terms that there are overtures being extended by the Jonathan/Sambo campaign organization being led by the President himself, to the Northern Political Leaders Forum on the need for reconciliation in order to boost his campaigns. Even at that, there is nothing to suggest that a deal has been struck.
“There is a clear distinction between General Ibrahim Babangida as a private citizen and the Northern Political Leaders Forum led by Mallam Adamu Ciroma. This distinction must be properly understood each time the media tries to draw its conclusions.
It should also be noted that General IBB has access to Mr. President and can engage him anytime in the interest of the country.
“Expectedly, any presidential candidate should ordinarily reach out to those he feels could enrich his campaigns and support base. It is a usual democratic and electoral practice that is not peculiar to us in Nigeria.
It is also expected that when such a candidate is reaching out, certain convincing reasons would be advanced to woo his potential supporters.
“While it is not out of place for President Jonathan to reach out to people he feels could enrich his campaigns, it is out of place for the media to run into premature conclusion that a deal has been struck as if the object of political participation is to appropriate the collective destinies of Nigeria in naira and kobo.
“General Ibrahim Babangida is not a dealer. He has never been a dealer and he does not intend to be one. He is a distinguished elder statesman who is not persuaded by pecuniary benefits but a leader who is genuinely concerned about the development, unity and stability of the country.
Dynamics of democracy
“General Babangida’s understanding of the dynamics of democracy is that rule of law, collective bargaining and constructive engagement should prevail in a manner that puts the national interest far and above personal interest. He still believes in the principles and philosophy of zoning which prompted the setting up of the Northern Political Leaders Forum in the first place.
“General Babangida and his political family are open for political dialogue and constructive engagement to all presidential candidates irrespective of where they come from, insofar the object of the dialogue borders on the unity and stability of the country.
He is still a member of the Peoples Democratic Party and by implications, would be willing to help the party succeed once the internal contradictions are sorted out.
It should be understood that the idea being sold out that President Jonathan would serve one term as a precondition for getting the Northern support is non_applicable. By law, if President Goodluck Jonathan gets re-elected, he would be statute-barred from contesting in 2015 having been sworn-in twice. General Ibrahim Babangida remains passionate about one Nigeria and would go to any extent to sustain that ideal.”