IBB distances self from PDP rebranding conference
FORMER Military President, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB) has declined an invitation to attend the rebranding conference of the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP), scheduled for Thursday.
In a statement personally signed by him and mailed to The Guardian, the former leader said while he welcomed the invitation to the conference at repositioning the party after its poor outing in the last elections, he said he wanted to be excused on the grounds that he was too old to participate actively in partisan politics.
He reiterated his earlier position of retiring at 70 years of age from active partisan politics, noting that h position had not changed. Organizers of the conference had announced as the Special Guest in the forth coming conference, scheduled for the Thisday Dome in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
According to him. “While I welcome the invitation to the event as a mark of respect as one of the founding fathers, I want to be excused on the grounds that I have long bid bye to partisan politics.
“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.
Attaining the age of 70 in 2011 was to me a great accomplishment for which I remain eternally grateful to Almighty Allah and my family who have shown tremendous support and encouragement throughout my 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 fulfillment 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.”
He stressed that while he had 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 fulfillment 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.”
Babangida added, “I have heard whispers from different political arenas that one of the rationales for the rebranding of PDP was to prepare me 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.
“While I wish PDP the best of luck in its desire to rebrand for future electoral challenges, I wish Nigeria and Nigerians the uncommon wisdom to manage our internal contradictions for the sustenance of democracy.”