Monday, March 28, 2011

IBB Endorses Ribadu for President

Former military President, Ibrahim Babangida, on Sunday endorsed Nuhu Ribadu for President, saying Nigeria needs generational change.

But Ribadu, a member of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), was received at Babangida's Hilltop Mansion without ACN leader, Bola Tinubu.

Babangida told journalists that because of the generation Ribadu belongs to, it is fair to support him take over the reigns of power, a view he said other Nigerians will understand and respect.

He recalled that, "Somebody asked me recently who my candidate is and I said that we who belong to this generation will like to see young people, in whose hands the future of this country lies, to take over the affairs of Nigeria."

He explained that he supports generational change, "which Nuhu Ribadu and Fola Adeola stand for," and he has strong faith in them and believes they can deliver.

Asked if he has endorsed the candidature of Ribadu, Babangida who had wanted to run for President himself under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), said: "For generational change, yes."

He referred to everyone on Ribadus' entourage as his friends, and said he gave them lunch as a sign of acceptance and friendship between him and the ACN family.

"I am close to them, it is only fair that since they are in Minna they decided to visit me personally. I have respect for him (Ribadu)."

Ribadu and his team also visited the Emir of Minna, Umar Bahago, after which they addressed a rally at the city's polo ground.

He told the rally that the ACN stands for the change Nigerians have yearned for in the 12 years of misrule by the PDP administration.

"The change has come and your party, our party, the ACN, is the party to vote for. We are set to provide this much needed change and take the country to higher grounds," he said.

In his own case, President Goodluck Jonathan is not leaving anything to chance despite assurances by his camp that he will win the election by a wide margin.

He has set up 15 committees to scan all parts of the country and firm up agreements that will give his opponents no room for manoeuvre.

Presidential Assistant on Documentation, Research and Strategy, Oronto Douglas, told reporters in Abuja on Sunday that Jonathan cannot afford to be complacent, because doing so will be costly.

He said the committees will dialogue with every stakeholder, to engage with everybody, and "part of this would be to hold town hall meetings. There are some zones where we have not done as much as we would want to do, and those zones will receive more attention.

We still have two solid weeks to do this. So, there is time, especially when we want to win this election in a free, fair, and transparent manner that will leave no one in doubt."

But on a sad political note, one person was killed and several others were injured on Sunday in a violence that broke out in Makurdi between supporters of the PDP and the ACN.

The Makurdi-Otukpo-Enugu Highway was blocked, forcing motorists travelling down South to make a detour through Naka to link Otukpo.

Some residents fled for safety, as police engaged the party thugs in combat to bring the situation under control.

The violence started with the alleged disappearance on Friday of a final year student of the University of Agriculture, Makurdi, Moses Orngu, who caricatures Governor Gabriel Suswam in cartoons.

ACN supporters believe that Orngu may have been kidnapped by PDP agents.

They blocked the highway, made burn fires, and demanded the release of Orngu, an action which degenerated into the clash with PDP supporters.

Some weeks ago, David Inornem, the Director General of Steve Ugbah Campaign Organisation, told a press conference, that a Tiv bard, Barnabas Aganyi, who composes scathing campaign songs for the ACN, was missing.

Inornem said the ACN also suspected that Aganyi was kidnapped by PDP agents.

Police Commissioner, Ibrahim Mohammed, could not be reached on the telephone for comment. His lines were switched off.

However, the South West zone of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) reiterated at the weekend that violence remains the only obstacle to the success of the polls next month.

It expressed fear that the huge funds sunk into the preparations by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and political parties may go down the drain, and urged those concerned to address the matter quickly.

A statement signed by CAN President Joseph Akinfenwa stressed that Nigeria cannot afford to mess up in the ballot because it represents a milestone in its history'.

"We join forces with well-meaning Nigerians to highlight the danger of electoral violence at this point in our national history and to call on all stakeholders, especially our politicians, to esteem national interest above narrow, parochial one, and join hands to ensure peaceful, free, and fair elections in April," he pleaded.

Akinfenwa asked all leaders of political parties to denounce violence and to mandate their followers to desist from it.

"In other words, we ask our politicians to make a covenant with the Nigerian people that they will not instigate or condone violence of any kind; but rather discourage it even in the face of provocation."

He also implored the security agencies to detect, contain, and control violent conduct and to be impartial in providing security for all.

Akinfenwa said the failure of state security leads to private security arrangements which in turn lead to abuse of force.

He stressed that the maintenance of peace and decorum throughout the election period will help ensure a free and fair vote.

He sought a credible and truly representative election, facilitated by the massive participation of citizens who will join hands with the government to leave no stone unturned.

Daily Independent

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