Former Military President Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida (rtd) has left no one in doubt, as to his plan of occ">
Posted by Thisday Online - Ndubuisi Ugah on
Former Military President Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida (rtd) has left no one in doubt, as to his plan of occupying the position he left some 12 years ago. And to prove that he meant business, he unwittingly declared his interest recently.
Former Military President Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida (rtd) has left no one in doubt, as to his plan of occupying the position he left some 12 years ago. And to prove that he meant business, he unwittingly declared his interest recently. But with the changing shape of politics in Nigeria, how far can IBB go? Ask, Ndubuisi Ugah
Until recently, former President Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida's political ambition ahead of the 2007 remained more of a theoretical guess than a realistic masterplan. The reason being that his ambition had witnessed an avalanche of skepticisms, which was traceable to his leadership antecedents during his eight year rule as Nigeria's military President.
Even at public and private functions, he had continued to create apprehensions over his political ambition, which invariably had left no one in doubt as to the sincerity or otherwise of his determination to gun for the number one position.
Little wonder then that while this was raging on, his critics started seeing the whole chess game in another dimension altogether. For some, they had asked what could have gone wrong with the man, most remembered for the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, which eventually culminated in his "stepping aside" eventually.
But developments soon took another dimension in Benin-City, Edo State, where he had gone to attend the funeral rites of a renowned Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Tiramiyu Bello-Osagie, who died recently at 81 years. At the function, Babangida was said to have kept sealed lips over his political ambition, a development which further complicated the permutations by analysts of what may eventually become of IBB in politics.
At the event, the former military president was said to have told newsmen that "I have no comment for 2007". Going by the statement, analysts wondered what the next step would be for the Minna, Niger State-born retired infantry officer, who many Nigerians have zeroed in as the likely successor to President Olusegun Obasanjo, when his present second-term expires in May 29, 2007.
But when many had thought that the dusts so raised by his non-declarative stance was gradually becoming nought, Babangida blew the lid open. And this time, he was emphatic. He had said that he will answer the people's call. Perhaps, for those who may not have been following the chess board political permutations of IBB, his latest move, observers contend may have formally set in motion, the machinery for the long awaited dream for the 2007 project.
Fielding questions from newsmen at the Government House, Bauchi, after his two-day official visit, Babangida was said to have affirmed that he was in politics and will not turn down the demand of the people to run for any office.
He was quoted as saying that "my stand on 2007 is very simple, like every political animal, there will be politics now up till 2007 and beyond, and I am going to be in politics from now on till maybe my retirement".
According to him, "I will not turn down the demand of the people who are the determinant when it comes to who occupies what elective office", adding that " you should understand that I was never in politics before, I was a military officer but now democracy is the in-thing, and since I am still reasonably healthy, I think that I could still be in the position to provide my contribution to the development of this country".
The former leader assured that he was ready to heed the call of the people provided that it was a positive one.
He further stressed that " I will be in politics fully come 2007 but before then, there will be real politics and I will be involved from any reasonable angle".
It would be recalled that Babangida had given the first clear indication of his interest in the 2007 presidential poll in Ilorin, Kwara State, while attending the eight-day Fidau prayers for the late Major General Abdulkarim Adisa, who until his death was the Co-ordinator of the Project 007 group, which was working for the realisation of the Babangida's presidential ambition.
While Nigerians were still trying to piece out what probably may have informed Babangida's latest change of heart, the National Democratic Party (NDP), at its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting recently, prior to Babangida's declaration, was also said to have unanimously endorsed Babangida as it Presidential flagbearer ahead of the 2007 elections. While announcing the decision of the party, the National Chairman of the party, Alhaji Habu Fari, said it was wrong for Nigerians to have concluded that his party was unnecessarily too "forward" in ratifying Babangida's ticket, when 2007 was still some two years away.
According to him, "which gun, because I don't see any gun. In democracy, you have a system, you have laid down rules and laws and in parties, the laws and rules are contained in the constitution of the party and our constitution states that anytime you discover somebody who is viable, and can contest election and win, is the right type of person you need, you give him the necessary support. So I am not jumping any gun. Maybe in the army you jump gun, but in politics you jump your constitution".
On whether Babangida had indicated interest to contest for the presidency under his party, Fari said, "when President Olusegun Obasanjo came out of prison in 1999, he never knew how the party was formed, but he jumped the gun as you said and he became the presidential candidate of PDP".
"In politics, anybody who comes out and tells you I want to be this is not a serious person. But any person that people go to and say it is you, is the right person and that is why we believe we have made the right choice", he added.
Asked why Babangida has not declared his interest to contest, the NDP chairman explained that, "at the moment, nobody has declared interest to contest. If you declare that you want to contest, it means you are not the right person in NDP. NDP constitution says you can go for somebody who is okay, whom you believe will win election for you to be in government. Who will serve the country well. Who is not selfish and who will perform. So that is the party's constitution and that we have done in line with the party's constitution. We did not want to go outside the constitution, Babangida is going to contest in NDP".
So with the coast for the 2007 general elections gradually becoming clearer, it then becomes explicitly clear that what Admiral Augustus Aikhomu once said that concerning Babangida, during his 60th birthday celebration on August 27, 2001 that "as for the future, I cannot agree more with the view, which is increasingly gaining ground, that Nigeria has not heard the last of IBB", may have afterall opened up another political vista in the long walk towards the realisation of the 2007 political dream of the former military president.