PDP hails former military leader, presidency, APC shocked, keep quiet.
Buhari is doing exactly what he did that led to his overthrow as military head of state in 1985.
Following the confusion that arose from a counter-statement purportedly issued by former military president, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida yesterday retracting an earlier statement in the day, in which he called for a new generation of leaders to assume the mantle of leadership in the country come 2019, the retired military general spoke exclusively to THISDAY saying that his “original statement still stands”.
Babangida said the second statement was issued by friends and had nothing to do with him, but expressed concern that his initial statement issued by his media aide, Mr. Kassim Afegbua, had been misrepresented by the media.
According to him, what his statement titled, “Towards a National Rebirth,” emphasised was for a new breed of leadership to emerge through the electoral process, but was not intended to deny President Muhammadu Buhari his inalienable right to vote and be voted for in the 2019 elections.
He was emphatic that his statement did not counsel Buhari not to contest the 2019 elections as depicted by media houses in their headlines yesterday.
Also, enquiries from sources close to Babangida revealed that the confusion arose due to the pressure mounted by the former military ruler’s son, Mohammed, on his father to retract the first statement and issue a toned down version.
Indeed, the sources informed THISDAY that the second toned down version was not signed by the Babangida but his son who simply appended the retired general’s name to the revised statement.
But when Babangida got wind of what had transpired, he instructed Afegbua to reach out to media houses reaffirming the validity of the first statement.
In his original statement yesterday, Babangida said that he did not write a letter to Buhari but was just sharing his thoughts with “fellow compatriots on the need to enthrone younger blood into the mainstream of our political leadership starting from 2019”.
Babangida said the search for the new breed leadership must start now as Nigeria prepares for 2019 election.
According to him, “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 a new generation leaders to assume the mantle of leadership of the country.”
Babangida stressed that he was offering the advise as a stakeholder, former president and concerned Nigerian who was desirous of seeing “new paradigms in our shared commitment to get this country running”.
“While saying this also, I do not intend to deny President Buhari his inalienable right to vote and be voted for, but there comes a time in the life of a nation, when personal ambition should not override national interest.
“This is the time for us to reinvent the will and tap into the resourcefulness of the younger generation, stimulate their entrepreneurial initiatives and provoke a conduce environment to grow the national economy both at the micro and macro levels.
“Contemporary leadership has to be proactive and not reactive. It must factor in citizens’ participation. Its language of discourse must be persuasive not agitated and abusive. It must give room for confidence building. It must build consensus and form aggregate opinions on any issue to reflect the wishes of the people across the country.
“It must gauge the mood of the country at every point in time in order to send the right message. It must share in their aspirations and give them cause to have confidence in the system,” he said.
Continuing, the former military president maintained that modern leadership was not just about “fighting” corruption, “it is about pluggin”.
“Accountability in leadership should flow from copious examples. It goes beyond mere sloganeering. My support for a new breed of leadership derives from the understanding that it will show a marked departure from recycled leadership to creating new paradigms that will breathe fresh air into our present polluted leadership actuality,” he added.
Babangida noted that his intervention in government more than 30 years ago was not by accident, recalling that his administration at the time had a clear-cut agenda on what needed to be achieved.
Babangida, coincidentally, overthrew Maj.-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari in a bloodless coup in August 1985 and ruled Nigeria from 1985 to 1993