Barely six hours after a statement attributed to former military Head of State, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, made the rounds across major media Sunday, the former statesman has issued a statement refuting, denying and disavowing the now widely circulated original letter.
This was contained in a statement signed by Babangida and released to PRNigeria.com. The retired general said that the “the views expressed in the alleged statement are not mine but that of the writer.”
The retraction comes in the midst of a similar open letter confirmed to have been issued by former President Olusegun Obasanjo a week ago urging President Muhammadu Buhari not to run for re-election in 2019. Babangida’s full credited statement on the controversy and other political matters reproduced below:
My attention has been drawn to a press statement on the State of the nation with a particular reference to 2019 general elections and beyond.
Let me categorically state that as a former President and Statesman, I have unfettered access and channel of communication with the highest authorities in the country without necessary going public with a sensational statement.
Therefore, the views expressed in the alleged statement are not mine but that of the writer.
However, with due respect to individual opinion and constitutional rights, it is worrisome that Political events and civil unrest in many parts of the country have raised many questions on the governance and unity of our great nation.
Indeed 2018 has been inundated with political clamours and hot debates over the corporate existence of this country. Many of contributions, including constructive criticisms and engagements, have shown greater concerns for the corporate existence of Nigeria beyond 2019 general elections.
It will be recalled that in my recent message on this year’s Armed Forces Remembrance Day, I specifically expressed the dire need for proactive measures to stop farmers/herders clashes in the middle belt as well as Cattle rustling, armed robbery, Kidnapping, gangsterism and Cultism in other parts of the country.
Our security agencies have to step up surveillance with more efforts on intelligence gathering towards ensuring maximum security of life and property.
Recent happenings and utterances by political gladiators are alarming and not in the interest of common man that is already overstretched and apparently living from hand to mouth due to precarious economic conditions.
Despite all these challenges, I am optimistic that the political actors will play within the ambits of political norms and decorum to ameliorate the problems facing our society now.
I am a realist that believes in all issues in a democratic atmosphere are sincerely discussed and resolved in the spirit of give-and-take. Since after my military years that metamorphosed to being the only Military President in the history of Nigeria and my civilian life, I always have one clear objective that freedom can only be achieved through democracy.
Some people find this freedom as an avenue for eroding democracy by antics of hate speeches under the guise of religion, tribal or self-imposed mentorship. This trend of pitching political class and the people against one another is unhealthy and must be discouraged by all and sundry.
The clamour for re-alignment of governance in the country as we are approaching the 2019 election year is a welcome development only if the agitations are genuinely channelled through appropriate channels of law and order and the observance of the supremacy of the Constitution. Therefore, any attempt outside this circle of democratic tenets is deceptive and divisive idea capable of plunging our political journey into disarray.
Our present political parties and their structures need parameter pillars that will make them stronger with unique ideologies. However, our present political parties need surgical operations that will align them into a reasonable number. I have been an advocate of a two-party system but in our present reality in Nigeria, our political parties can fuse into a strong political association or party that can form a formidable opposition to a ruling party.
As students of history, we are aware that many advanced democracies have two distinct ideological political parties, with a handful of smaller political groupings that serve as buffer whenever any of the known political parties derailed or became unpopular. I still believe in a two-party system as the best option for Nigeria.
It is high time that we engage in constructive dialogue on national issues in order to have a political solution to our myriad of problems. It is sad that Nigeria had its fair share of conflicts, and we cannot continue to fall back to those dark years of bloodshed.
As a people, now is the time to come together to address all Communal conflicts and criminality under any guise so as to unite the country in line with the vision of our founding fathers so that we can forge ahead in the task of building a more prosperous nation.