By Our Correspondents
Former military president, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, has indicated his support for the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, in the cause of salvaging Nigeria.
The development came just as United States- based think tank, Brookings, has stated that President Goodluck Jonathan may win theFebruary 14 poll.
Apparently endorsing Buhari’s candidature, Babangida declared that he knows what Buhari wants just as the APC candidate knows what he (Babangida) desires.
The former Nigeria leader spoke yesterday in his hilltop residence Minna while receiving the APC presidential candidate who was at Minna Polo Field as part of his campaign tour of the country.
Babangida stated that contrary to the notion created by the media that they were enemies, they were actually in good terms, adding that both of them fought to keep the Nigeria united when they were mates in the Nigeria Army.
He said, “Media men have created this impression that we are fighting each other, but look at us here today; he (Buhari) knows what I mean and I know what he means. We both fought to keep Nigeria one when we were young majors.”
He commended the APC for allowing Buhari to emerge as its presidential flag bearer, saying: “All of us will support you in this cause to salvage this country.”
While commending the General Buhari for his perseverance and persistence to offer himself for the service at the highest level, he stated: “You have beaten some of us in proving Gen Douglas Mc Arthur’s theory of old soldiers never die but fade away gradually.”
According to him, genuine leadership can only emerge when the mandate is secured through free and fair electoral process. He, therefore, called on Nigerians to go out and vote as well as ensure that their votes count.
Buhari had earlier stated that he was in Minna to canvass for votes and that though the former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, said he would not leave PDP, he was aware of the support of IBB and Obasanjo for his presidential bid.
Buhari said the fight against insecurity in the country will be total starting by equipping the armed forces, police and other security agencies as well as ensuring that whatever is due to the soldiers in terms of welfare would be given to them.
At the rally the deputy chairman of APC, North, Lawal Shuaibu, who represented the chairman, John Oyegun, received the defectors from the PDP, led by the incumbent deputy governor, Hon Ahmed Musa Ibeto.
While speaking, APC chieftain Asiwaju Bola Tinubu said: “President Jonathan in one African countries in 2011 promised to spend only four years. He went further to say that if he can’t fix Nigeria in four years, he will not be able to succeed in 20 years, so why must we allow a man who failed to honour a promise he made four years ago?”
He said Jonathan administration has been a total failure in the last six years and urged Nigerians to vote the PDP government out of office during the February elections, adding that APC was set to salvage the country.
The director-general of Buhari/Osinbajo Campaign Organisation and Rivers State governor, Rotimi Amaechi took a swipe at the PDP government and described the Jonathan administration as fraudulent.
He urged Nigerians not to be carried away by the N10 cut in petrol pump price announced on Sunday, saying the new price regime was not only long overdue but falls short of the global difference in oil price.
Niger deputy defects to APC
Meanwhile Niger State deputy governor, Hon. Ahmed Musa Ibeto, led 319 other PDP chieftains to declare their defection to the APC.
Speaking to journalists before the rally, he said he was leaving the ruling party because of the injustice within it.
Ibeto said that Injustice was perpetrated in the last governorship primaries against him, and when he complained to the national leadership, he was denied justice, and since he could not stay with such injustice, he decided to move to the APC.
February 14 Poll: Odds favour Jonathan – US Group
Meanwhile, a US-based think-tank, Brookings, has projected victory for President Goodluck Jonathan over General Muhammadu Buhari in the February 14 poll, though the contest will be very tough.
The world influential think-tank’s analysis, context and rationale projections are contained in the Brookings publication entitled: Foresight Africa – Top Priorities for the continent (January 2015).
“Though the election is expected to be very competitive, the odds still favor President Jonathan,” the report said, describing the APC as a fragile anti-Jonathan establishment with a sole purpose to return power to the north.
“The APC gets much of its strength from tapping into anti-Jonathan sentiments in the Muslim north and grievances among the Yoruba who feel that the Jonathan administration has ignored them in key political appointments,” it said.
The report also indicated that the APC’s strategy is hinged on a combination of popular votes from the North West, North East and “the battleground South West” but also hinted at the possibility of Bola Ahmed Tinubu not delivering the region contrary to speculations.
“What remains to be seen, however, is whether Bola Tinubu—a former governor of Lagos State who played a pivotal role in the formation of the APC and is considered to be the party’s strongest mobilizer in the South West— will be very enthusiastic in delivering the battleground southwest to the APC during the elections.”
On President Jonathan’s performance, it noted: “Despite Boko Haram, the country is thriving: The economy continues to grow and—with the rebasing of its GDP—became the largest economy in Africa and the 26th largest in the world. Jonathan’s supporters also point to his success in containing the Ebola virus, which earned him commendations from countries and institutions around the world.”
The Brookings report also identified factors such as incumbency and numerical control of states where PDP has 21 states and APC only 14 as giving PDP an edge.
“The greatest strength of the ruling PDP is its “power of incumbency,” and all the institutional support that goes with it. Not only does it have federal resources to use as patronage, it also controls key institutions.”
The report advised that all efforts should be deployed to ensure a free, fair and transparent elections and to avoid a meltdown as post-election violence seems very likely.
“Post-election violence is therefore likely in the north if the APC loses while renewed militancy in the restive Niger Delta is likely if Jonathan does,” it said.
End insurgency now, Sultan tells Jonathan
…We inherited Boko Haram, Jonathan tells Nigerians
The Sultan of Sokoto and president-general, Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, yesterday advised President Goodluck Jonathan to do all within his powers to end the worrisome spate of insurgency facing the country.
Sultan, who spoke in his palace when President Jonathan paid him a courtesy in continuation of his re-election campaign, expressed shock over the Nigerian style of politics, decrying combative the attitude of politicians who see election as war.
While insisting that politics should be played with some sense of decorum, Sultan maintained that Nigerian politicians should keep to issue-based campaigns rather than the present disunited messages on the basis of religion, region and personal attacks.
He further warned that politicians should be cautioned against allowing their supporters carrying weapons before, during and after elections. Hence, according to him, the peace-pact signed by the president and Buhari would have no effect if their followers at the grassroots derailed it.
He further warned Jonathan against disenfranchising Nigerians on the basis of Permanent Voter Card (PVCs), saying he himself had not received his PVC less than 30 days to the general election.
“The whole politicking has been turned to either religious or ethnic politics and this shouldn’t be the case because we see what happens across the world. We are worried because religion has been brought
into it and we made it very clear in 2011 that there is no way religion should play part in election campaigns or even elections itself,” the sultan said, noting that God has His reasons for allowing diverse religions coming together to form Nigeria.
“Therefore if we are to pick from the various parties, you would find out that all the parties have Muslims, Christians, animists and whatever. That is why I kept on making this very strong comment; it is not possible and it shouldn’t be possible for us in this country to base our campaigns on religion because if you do so you are not obeying the tenets of your religion of being your brothers’ keepers,” he said.
Speaking at Shehu Kangiwa Square, venue of the campaign rally, President Jonathan warned that the unity of the country was paramount, and lamented that some people are playing politics with Nigeria’s security situation.
The president also stressed that his administration inherited Boko Haram and that it was doing its best to end it.
“Some people are playing politics with Nigerian security. Some are instigating that the president is fomenting insecurity to continue to stay in power. We inherited Boko Haram. We are in a world where terror has become the order of the day,” he noted..
Kaduna stands still, as Buhari promises free education
Commercial and social activities were yesterday grounded in Kaduna owing to the presidential rally of the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari.
As early as 8am, supporters of the former head of state took to the streets to welcome him but they were disappointed as the APC presidential campaign team were at Minna, Niger State, for a similar occasion.
The hundreds of youths took over the major streets in state capital, chanting solidarity songs for the APC presidential candidate and saying they wanted ‘change’, APC’s campaign slogan.
Addressing a mammoth crowd at the Murtala Muhammed Square, venue of the Kaduna rally, General Buhari promised to ensure free and compulsory education.
He said, if elected, he would tackle the issues of insecurity, corruption and unemployment ravaging the entire country.
According to him, within two years of his coming to office, Nigerians would witness clear changes in their fortunes.
He noted that Kaduna State used to be the industrial hub in north but lamented that all that is now a thing of the past, stressing that if voted into power come February 14, he will ensure that enabling environment is provided that will attract investors into the country and the state.
On his plea against violence, Buhari, who spoke in Hausa, said, “I did not ask you to kill anybody, but for you to protect your votes, and I promise you that I will not fail you if you give me your mandates through your votes.
“Within the first two years of my administration, if voted into power, my focus will be to revive industries, fix roads, reform the education sector, and equip our hospitals.”
Jonathan’s Campaign Begs aggrieved Kebbi guber aspirants, defectors to return to PDP
During President Goodluck Jonathan and his campaign team’s visit to Kebbi yesterday to canvass for votes yesterday, his campaign director-general, Dr. Amadu Ali, made a passionate appeal to the aggrieved Kebbi PDP gubernatorial aspirants and other party stalwarts who defected to the opposition APC to forget the past and return to the PDP fold.
Amadu Ali, a former PDP national chairman, made the appeal at the Haliru Abdu Stadium in Birnin Kebbi in the company of President Jonathan, Vice President Namadi Sambo, PDP national chairman Adamu Muazu, Governor Sule Lamido of Jigawa State, Governor Saidu Dakingari of Kebbi State, General Bello Sarkin Yaki, Kebbi PDP guber aspirants and other national and state party executive members.
Ali urged all the aggrieved party members to also forget the past and forge ahead for the victory of the party in 2015 while also pointing out the success recorded by President Jonathan in the area of education in the north.
“Jonathan established 12 new universities in Nigeria, nine of which are in the North,” he said.
During his address, the president promised to partner with Kebbi State to improved rice production and encourage commercial production of the commodity in order to stop the importation of rice into the country.
“Rice revolution is on course in Kebbi. Kebbi will help stop importation of rice into Nigeria. We will continue to encourage our farmers to improve their production, “ he said, declaring that Nigeria can no longer depend on crude oil as its price was on the decline in the world market.