Nigeria’s former military President, General Ibrahim Babangida, has restated that he had quit partisan politics and would have nothing to do with the Rebranding Conference of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) scheduled to hold on Thursday, November, 12.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, Babangida, who is one of the founding fathers of the PDP, said: “I wish to make some clarifications concerning the invitation extended to me on the scheduled PDP Rebranding Conference slated for Thursday, 12 November, 2015, aimed at repositioning the party after its poor outing at the last elections.”
He said that while he welcomes the invitation to the event as a mark of respect as one of the founding fathers, he wants to be excused on the grounds that he had long bid bye to partisan politics. He said: “Four years ago at an elaborate event at the Transcorp Hilton Hotels Abuja, I announced my retirement from partisan politics after my failed attempt to contest for President and having attained the gracious age of 70, in a society where life expectancy stands at a ridiculous 47 years. In appreciating what Allah has done for me in life, seeing me through many challenges, stabilizing me during periods of tribulations, and safeguarding me through the thick and thin of political risks, I did state at that event that journalists would not push me around again.”
He explained that attaining the age of 70 in 2011 was to him a great accomplishment for which he remains eternally grateful to Almighty Allah and his family who have shown tremendous support and encouragement throughout his political trajectory. “Since 2011 till date, I have been playing my role as an elder statesman and “consultant-in-chief” to political office seekers and other like-minds who want my input in their aspirations. At 74, I feel a deep sense of fulfilment in my new role as non-partisan elder statesman and a patriot; available to all categories of persons without the burgeoning label of any political party or affiliation. I have many friends and associates in the two dominant political parties; APC and PDP, and numerous other smaller political parties. At this stage of my political journey, I want to be able to interact and socialize with them without being branded “anti-party”.
“It is on the score of this that I have elected to turn down this request to participate in the rebranding conference of the PDP in a partisan manner. My fulfilment in life is further bolstered by the emerging scenario that is evident in our present political reality. First, the idea of a two-party system which has always been my desire; and the stack reality that, incumbents can be defeated at various levels of election as a function of growing awareness and consciousness on the part of the electorate. These to me, present interesting dimensions in our political evolution as a country grappling with so many challenges.
General Babangida noted that he has heard whispers from different political arenas that one of the rationales for the rebranding of PDP was to prepare him (IBB) for future elections in 2019. “How ridiculous? God’s willing; by 2019 I will be 78 years old. If I called it quit in 2011, why would PDP contemplate fielding a 78 years old man in a presidential election in a country that parades very vibrant men and women of lesser age? I have no intention whatsoever to run for any office again in Nigeria. I will consistently pray to Almighty Allah to grant me good health and sound mind to watch my dearest beloved country grow from strength to strength during my lifetime and beyond,” Babangida said.
He added that while he wishes PDP the best of luck in its desire to rebrand for future electoral challenges, he also wishes Nigeria and Nigerians the uncommon wisdom to manage their internal contradictions for the sustenance of national unity.