MINNA—Nigeria’s former military president, General Ibrahim Babangida (ret), yesterday, endorsed the presidential aspiration of General Muhammadu Buhari, saying the All Progressives Congress, APC, presidential candidate was suitably positioned to salvage the country.
Babangida who received Buhari in his Minna, Niger State residence also said the country’s retired generals would back Buhari being one of their own. He dismissed as fable, media insinuations of a feud between him and Buhari.
Buhari’s visit to Babangida was on the fringes of his campaign to Minna which was climaxed with the defection of the incumbent Deputy Governor of the state, Ahmed Ibeto to the APC.
Expressing his appreciation of Buhari’s unwavering commitment to service of the fatherland, during the visit to his Hill Top residence in Minna, General Babangida said: “You have beaten some of us in proving Gen. Douglas McArthur’s theory that “old soldiers never die but fade away gradually,” but you have refused to fade away.
“I wish to congratulate members of the party for the honour of nominating my colleague, General Muhammadu Buhari as your presidential candidate in 2015 election”.
Debunking media insinuations of an unending feud between himself and Buhari who he ousted as Head of State in 1985, Babangida said:
“You media men have created this impression that we are fighting each other. Look at us here today; he knows what I mean and I know what he means. We both fought to keep Nigeria one when we were young majors then. We were well travelled.
“I want to commend APC for choosing our colleague as your flag bearer. All of us will support you (Buhari) in this cause to salvage this country,” IBB stated.
Buhari had before then explained to Babangida that he was in Minna to solicit votes towards realising his aspiration to again lead the country as a civilian president and expressed joy on the reception given him and his delegation by the former military president.
Buhari said that he had earlier visited another former ruler, Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo who he said refused to decamp from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP but nevertheless gave his blessing to his aspiration.
On Buhari’s entourage were the national leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu; the deputy national chairman of the APC, Senator Lawali Shuaibu; Director-General of the Buhari Campaign Organisation, Governor Rotimi Amaechi; party chieftains including Chief Audu Ogbeh, Chief Bisi Akande, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, Mr. Segun Oni and Ms Temi Harriman.
Others are General Abdurahaman Dambazzau, Senator George Akume, Chief Niyi Adebayo, Senator Bukola Saraki, Alhaji Kawu Baraje and Chief Kemi Nelson among others.
Following the courtesy call, Buhari addressed a large rally at the Polo Ground, Minna where he vowed that if successful in the election, he would wage a total war against insecurity in the country as he pledged to fully equip the military for the assignment.
He pledged that his administration would use the agricultural potentials of the state to an advantage and also promised that agriculture would be given the pride of place in his government.
The candidate urged those who turned out that the promises he was making would, however, only be realised “if the people go out to vote, peacefully stay behind and ensure that their votes count”.
Osinbajo, Tinubu speak
Before Buhari spoke, his running mate, Professor Osinbajo had told the crowd that an APC government would frontally address the problems in the power sector saying: “We have to settle the problem in the power sector. We know the problem and we are going to find solution to the problem. We have the answer, Nigerians should give us chance by voting for APC come February 14, 2015.”
Also speaking, Tinubu, also the Jagaban Borgu in Niger State, flayed President Goodluck Jonathan as a man not to be trusted with his words. He said the president had promised not to vie for a second term before the 2011 elections.
“President Jonathan in one African country in 2011 promised to spend only four years. He went further to say that if he can’t fix Nigeria in four years, he will not be able to succeed in 20 years, so why must we allow a man who failed to honour a promise he made four years ago?”
He described the Jonathan administration as a failure, saying the government could not count tangible achievements in six years.
Governor Amaechi in his address described the Jonathan administration as steeped in fraud. He dismissed last Sunday’s reduction in petrol price as a fraud as, according to him, the reduction was late and did not meet the reduction in global price of crude.
The rally was climaxed with the defection of the incumbent deputy governor of the state, Ahmed Musa Ibeto to the APC. Ibeto came along with 319 other PDP chieftains to APC.