Former military president, General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida (retd.) has again urged Nigerians to ensure that only the younger generations were voted to power in the country, even as expressed faith in the Chief Olu Falae led Social Democratic Party, SDP, and what it stands for.
Babangida, who spoke at his hill-top mansion in Minna, Niger State, while receiving a delegation of YES Nigeria Movement led by its convener, Ali Soyode, charged the delegation to seize the privilege offered by the next elections to serve their fatherland at a younger age.
Recall that the former maximum ruler had in a statement in February advised President Muhammadu Buhari against seeking re-election in 2019, urged him to complete his first term and allow a new generation of leaders to take control of the mantle of leadership of the country.
“In the fullness of our present realities, we need to cooperate with President Muhammadu Buhari to complete his term of office on May 29th, 2019 and collectively prepare the way for new generation leaders to assume the mantle of leadership of the country.
“While offering this advice, I speak as a stakeholder, former president, concerned Nigerian and a patriot who desires to see new paradigms in our shared commitment to get this country running. While saying this also, I do not intend to deny President Buhari his inalienable right to vote and be voted for, but there comes a time in the life of a nation, when personal ambition should not override national interest,” he said.
Addressing his visitors, Babangida harped on the need for electorate to get their voting documentations in order to play their role in the governance of the country, just as he pledged to work with the movement in achieving its goals.
“I want to commend the leadership of the movement for the great works it has achieved, especially in the areas of educating the electorate on their democratic and political rights and also supporting existing parties in identifying potential candidates for elective offices,” he said.
IBB also at the weekend played host to chieftains of the Social Democratic Party, SDP, led by Chief Olu Falae, disclosing openly that he has faith in the SDP because of the calibre of its leadership.
According to him, “If I hadn’t been too old, I would have loved to join the youth vanguard of your party. I have faith in the political party for what it is and what it stands for.
“This party is real because most of the names are names that I have known and I have worked with for the sake of this country. So the party is smart to have convinced all these gentlemen to join them.
“That is why I did not hesitate to give direction to those who came to me to seek advice on which direction to go.”
Babangida expressed confidence that the SDP would bring the desired hope for Nigeria, stating that “I know it can be done. I have never said this to any political party before, but I can tell you that the party has people who have contributed a lot to this country; people whose contributions to Nigeria are legendary, and what you have put ahead of you is what this country needs
“I remember when Jerry Gana was the Chairman of MAMSER, one of the primary things he did was to educate the ordinary person. The level of awareness then was not as high as it is now, so you should take advantage of the digital age now and pass a lot of information to the young men and women of this country because they form over 65 per cent of the population, and if you succeed in doing that, the better for this country.”
The former military president then called on “the younger generation, including the Nigerian women, to rally behind SDP because it is populated by men of integrity, men who when they work, they work well, when they speak, they speak well.”
Babangida also advised the leadership of the Social Democratic Party to, as a matter of necessity, make its manifestos public to Nigerians so that they could be held accountable to it.
“You must tell Nigerians what you intend to do for them because this is very important. The people must know what to expect if we vote SDP, and by then, it becomes politics of issues not politics of insult and name calling,” he said.
Speaking earlier, the National Chairman of the party, Chief Olu Falae, had told Babangida that the leadership of the SDP were in his house as part of the nationwide consultations to brief him on their activities and to equally solicit for his support and wise counseling.
Falae said he also decided to come to Minna with the entire leadership of the party “as a mark of respect” because “Babangida brought me into political limelight 32 years ago when he appointed me Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SFG), and since then, he has remained in the political arena of the country”.