By Chinedu Eze, Martha Eigbefoh and Jaiyeola Andrews:
Former military president, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB), spent several hours with former President Olusegun Obasanjo in Otta, Ogun State, yesterday, and refused to categorically state his position on his rumoured ambition to run for presidency in 2011.
Instead, he said he was consulting widely and that at the right, he would brief Nigerians on his speculated intention to run for the highest office in the country.
Speaking with journalists at the Presidential Wing of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, shortly before his departure to Minna, Niger State, he said he would be favourably disposed to the presidency of the country if it was the yearning of Nigerians.
Babangida, who ruled Nigeria from 1985 to 1993, said: “I am still doing some consultation and honestly I will hint you on that when I have finished. I will give you a feedback very soon.
“But if Nigerians are convinced that I have a contribution to make, surely this is the only country I have and I will do it.”
Asked if he would run should his supporters insist he is the only candidate that would save the country, the former military president said no one person has the ability to rule the country, noting: “There is no such thing as absolute.”
On whether he was satisfied with the way politicians were running the affairs of the state, he said “what I want is for all of you, including me, you, politicians to be very, very tolerant and if we are tolerant we will be able to move this country forward.”
Babangida also gave kudos to the electoral reform currently being voted upon by the National Assembly, describing it as credible work done by credible people.
“I read it and I think it’s a good job done by very, very credible Nigerians. If you see the list of people that produced that document they are very, very credible.”
Speaking in Abeokuta at the birthday lecture of Governor Gbenga Daniel of Ogun State held at Government House, Isale-Igbein, Babangida, who was the chairman of the occasion, said: “I believe that true federalism is the issue in this country. We have lived together for fifty years. There are a lot of things to discuss about the Nigerian political system.
“So you don’t have to go back to make a distinction whether we run a parliamentary or presidential system or whether we call ourselves Republic. Why can’t we look at Nigeria as a nation of fifty years and try to know those things that create problems for us.
“We don’t have to say government must do everything. Some of the best brains who are in Europe are Nigerians, so why can’t you use your brain thinking and brainstorm where the leadership should be able to provide for the people in the country?”
In his speech, Daniel called on Nigerians to forgive the retired general for his “past errors of judgment”, saying the ability to forgive would enhance development and harmony in the country.
In what was understood to be a subtle campaign for IBB’s rumoured presidential ambition, Daniel urged Nigerians to erase the sins of the former military ruler from their memory.
The governor said though Nigerians may fault IBB, “some of his achievements while holding the exalted office, his passion for the progress and peace of Nigeria could hardly be faulted”.
He said vengeance and malice have no place in the souls of great people and commended IBB for honouring his invitation.
Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State lamented the excessive power invested in the Federal Government which he said has led to leader-servant sour relationship between the states of the federation and the Federal Government.
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