APC will serve as alternative to PDP in 2015 –Babangida
Former military President, Ibrahim Babangida, noted in Minna, Niger State capital, on Thursday, that the registration of the All Progressives Congress (APC), would provide about vibrant political activities that would give the electorate a choice in 2015.
Barely 24 hours after its registration, some chieftains of the APC stormed the hilltop residence of Babangida where they entered into a closed-door meeting that lasted for about two hours.
The former military ruler also told newsmen in his residence when he received board members of the National Examination Council (NECO), led by the Chairman, Paddy Njoku, that “votes must count” in the 2015 general elections.
Babangida had promoted the concept of a two-party system during the winding transition programme before his own military regime ended abruptly in August 1993.
He told journalists on Thursday that the emergence of the APC has further confirmed his strong belief in the two-party system, which, he said, would provide an equally strong avenue for people to make choice.
“I think we have a lot of time now; we will see vibrant political activities, political parties will like to sell their products, perhaps you should keep on insisting that votes should count and that the people should be allowed to vote their choice and should have only one vote.”
When asked whether votes have not been counting in previous elections in Nigeria, Babangida said: “No, I never said so. I only said that I will insist that votes should count.
“I have been and I will continue to be a strong believer of two party-system; I told you that, maybe as PDP itself said, we now have strong and vibrant political associations, you have the choice, you either take this or that.”
Babangida noted that Nigerians are getting more exposed by the day on elections and the need for them to decide who governs them at all levels.
“I hope that the public will see it as an opportunity, that the party should try to talk to us the ordinary people, what they intend to do for us and for the country.”
On what the emergence of the APC portends for the future of the ruling PDP, Babangida reluctantly but tactically said: “You see, as a person who God did not give the power to predict the future, I wait for God to see.”
However, when pressed further to draw inferences from previous political developments in Nigeria to buttress his position about the APC and his insistence that votes must count, Babangida simply said: “No, I think it is a good development.”
Also, at about 12.30 p.m. on Thursday, interim Deputy National Chairman of the APC and former Speaker, House of Representatves, Aminu Masari, and the former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and interim Assistant National Secretary, Nasir El-Rufai, stormed the hilltop residence of Babangida.
The duo, accompanied by Nasir Nasif, a Senator, drove into Babangida’s residence in a black Toyota jeep with registration number, CV 324 RSH and a BMW series, JJC 99 AJ, a Lagos number.
The guests were immediately ushered straight into a conference hall in the right wing of Babngida’s residence on arrival.
The mission of the visiting APC stalwarts to Babangida were not known as at the time of filing this report because none of them was ready to talk to journalists.
Feelers, however, had it that their mission may not be unconnected with the northern leaders’ political re-alignment on how to return power to the region in 2015.
The Presidency on its part boasted in Abuja on Thursday that nobody can beat President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015 if he eventually makes up his mind to run for the office again.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Doyin Okupe, believes that the Presidency can only elude Jonathan if he decides not to contest.
“But should the President openly tell Nigerians of his intention to seek a second term, none of the political parties in the country can get a candidate that can match the President for the contest,” he added.
Okupe insisted that it will be foolish of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) not to give automatic ticket to Jonathan should he show interest in the 2015 Presidency, as he has all it takes to win the election.
He also made fun of Governors who are showing open confrontation with the President and threatening to dump the PDP, saying “all their noises are mere braggadocio which they can’t see through,” as doing so will be tantamount committing political suicide.
On the ambition of Jonathan, Okupe noted that he was yet to make known his intention to seek re-election, as all those who are talking about the second term ambition of the President are only flying kites.
“If this party, PDP, is a very serious party, which I believe it is, if the President decides to run, why should the party pick somebody else?
“The only advantage it will have when contesting is that it has an incumbent President, who will not be telling Nigerians that vote for me I will do this; he will be telling Nigerians vote for me I have done this,” Okupe added.
Also reacting to the registration of the APC on Thursday, Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora described it as a “landmark occurrence in the Nigerian polity.”
Mamora, who spoke in a telephone interview with Daily Independent, said this is the first time in Nigeria that such a thing would happen, adding that it calls for celebration.
He, however, called on the newly registered party to live up to the expectations of Nigerians as a long awaited alternative to the ruling PDP and to make sure that all its actions were credible because it cannot afford to do things like the PDP.
Second Republic Presidential Adviser and a northern leader, Tanko Yakassai, in his reaction insisted that the country needed a viable opposition party that will attract support from Nigerians irrespective of ethnic and religious background.
He said: “Getting an opposition party that would attract the support from all parts of Nigeria is a positive development for our nascent democracy, as that will go a long way in promoting national unity and integration.
“Besides, it would discourage the formation of political parties on ethnic, tribal, sectional or religious basis, which should also be good for our nation.
“As to whether the registration of APC would pose a threat to PDP, I believe that would depend on many factors among which would be the spread of the new party across all nooks and crannies of the country as is the case with the PDP, harmony among its members and providing honest and credible leadership guided by spirit of true democratic principles.”
Speaking in the same vein, Deputy Senate President in the Second Republic, Abubakar Dan-Musa, commended INEC for approving the registration of APC, saying it is a welcome development.
According to him, “INEC has done the right thing, it is now left for the managers to also do what is right. The ball is now in their own court as the destiny of this party is in their hands.”