2011 Presidency Dangles Okigbo Report To Stop IBB:

2010-06-13
Daily Independent Newspaper

Ibrahim Babangida is under pressure to either drop his presidential ambition or have the Aso Rock dust up, adopt and gazette the Okigbo Report, a product of an administrative panel believed to have indicted the former military dictator in the $12.4b oil windfall.

But the general has again dismissed claims that the Okigbo Report indicted him, as alleged by his detractors who alleged that Babangida siphoned the fund.

“We have repeatedly said it, time and time again that there is noting like Okigbo Report to try General Ibrahim Babangida. Okigbo Report is meant to re-organise the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the apex bank in the country. It is not a trial court for General IBB. That is number one.

“Two, there is nothing like the $12.4b oil windfall money. Go and read the advertorial we published in some newspapers on Wednesday (June 9) which gave a graphic account of what the Okigbo Report did. That is from us, backed by hard facts,” Kazeem Afegbua, Babangida’s Spokesman, told Sunday Independent in a telephone interview.

The carrot and the stick are being offered to get the Babangida’s well-oiled political machine out of the race next year and in turn clear the way for the much-speculated ambition of President Goodluck Jonathan to contest the seat, against the zoning formula of his ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which rotates power between the North and the South.

Aso Rock sources said Babangida has been asked to choose between dropping his ambition and have government explain away his alleged guilt or remaining in the race and have the presidency adopt the report which critics say, indicted the gap-toothed general in the misuse of the $12.4b oil windfall.

An adoption of the report could see government turning in Babangida for trial.

“The general has been told in clear terms that he should consider giving up his ambition or the government will bring up the Okigbo report, which if upheld automatically disqualifies him from the race. According to the 1999 Constitution, anybody indicted by the report of an Administrative Panel stands disqualified from contesting for public office,” an Aso Rock source said.

“And if the report is adopted and gazetted, the former military ruler may also be prosecuted. But if he drops out of the race, he can always give some excuses why he should not run again.”

It also emerged this week that Jonathan’s men have infiltrated the ranks of Babangida field soldiers, recruiting them into their campaign team ahead of the 2011 presidential ballot, steps that failed to elicit any fear from the general’s camp which insisted that Nigerians would decide at the right time who they want to govern from next year.

A key Babangida loyalist in the South East confirmed the infiltration, saying some of them have been offered to be campaign managers to the Jonathan team.

“I was approached to work for the Jonathan team against next year, and I’m aware a number of others working for the general have been approached countrywide,” he told Sunday Independent but stopped short of mentioning names of the lobbyists.

“So we are really confused. Some have even agreed to work for Jonathan in view of the advantages they believe he has over Babangida. Some of them are afraid that IBB may eventually pull out of the race because of the Okigbo report and outcries in some quarters.”

That emerged weeks after Jonathan was said to have raised campaign managers across the six geopolitical zones to hit the ground running, even with the North insisting that the PDP ought to hand its presidential ticket to a politician from the region in honour of the gentleman (zoning) agreement and some opinion leaders saying Jonathan’s ambition may rubbish his intention to deliver credible electoral reform.

But the Babangida’s camp is not ruffled by reports of the infiltration, with Afegbua making it clear the general is not in the race to compete with anybody.

His words: “We are not running a secret society. Democracy is a game of choice. Anybody who aspires to belong to any particular camp or any particular interest or particular group has the right under the 1999 constitution to so do. This idea of making democracy seem to be on an individual camp basis will not help us. It is about ideas; it is about propagating certain policies, which if implemented, will have overreaching impacts on the people. And IBB’s aspiration is for Nigerians and by Nigerians, so we are not concerned about this idea of infiltration or no infiltration. We are not. We are presenting General IBB to the Nigerian electorate and they have the right to decide the right man to govern the country through a democratic process. So I will not subscribe to the idea of people sowing the seed of discord to create some kind of confusion out there.”

Asked if the general is in any alliance with Northern politicians to wrong foot Jonathan, he retorted: “IBB is the only person who has declared that he is contesting for President in 2011. There is no any other person today, if my records are right, who has declared such interest. All we hear are permutations and permutations and undercurrent waters.

“Beyond that, there is nothing stopping an aspirant from discussing with other stakeholders who are critical of his own assessment to the democratic process. So if General Babangida decides to meet former Vice President Atiku Abubakar there is no harm in that. He has a right under the constitution to freely associate with people and to choose whoever he wishes to associate with and cultivate such friendship to the extent that it would help enhance his own chances of winning over voters. So, this is what they are doing and people are saying they are meeting to stop somebody, whereas everybody has a legitimate right to the presidency. It is a position that is guaranteed to all Nigerians and it should be so treated.”

 

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