Kassim Afegbua has steer the honest net via statement issued,but Mahmud Abdullahi and some pals of IBB believe the content is too hot for comfort.
However, Afegbua is standing by the statement, insisting that he sat with the former dictator before he issued the statement.
He said as one who had been doing the job for over 14 years, he could not issue such a statement without the permission of his principal.
The spokesman said it was some overzealous people around Babangida that issued the rebuttal.
Afegbua, however, said the former dictator had not withdrawn his statement.
He said this during an interview on a Channels Television programme tagged ‘Politics Today,’ on Sunday evening.
Afegbua added, “I have been doing this job for 14 years now and I have never issued a statement on behalf of former President Babangida and get a rebuttal. I extracted commitment from him and authorisation before I issued the statement and it was in process but of course you know, IBB is for everyone and so people want to love him more than he loves himself.
“When the statement was sent and some of his friends saw the twist of the reportage on the social media and how they sensationalised it and all of that, taking away the kernel of the content of the statement, they felt that we were just trying to put the former President on a collision course with the present President and so to that extent, they went to write a statement to deny that but I have since spoken to him.
“He has called me to say that statement stands and the kernel of that statement should inform public discourse and not people necessarily personalising it as if it were against the sitting President.”
Afegbua said Babangida was calling for the emergence of a young President in 2019.
When asked if the former ruler would be supporting a third force, Afegbua said Babangida would support any credible young candidate.
He added, “From the statement you could easily deduce that General Babangida wants a new set of leaders from the younger generation of Nigerians who in his view have the resourcefulness and the capacity to manage governmental affairs.
“For him, he says at his age, which is 76 plus, he has already paid his due and that whether we like it or not, we should even blame his generation for being part of the problems of the country but having realised that, they should be able to create a platform to engage a younger generation that can translate all our potential to opportunities for the greater good for the generality of Nigerians. He is not personalising his statement against the current President.”
But, in another statement he personally signed and released from Minna by one of his aides, Mahmud Abdullahi, the former military leader warned against a gang-up outside law and order.
He said any realignment of forces for 2019 elections must be within democratic tenets.
Although he did not mention any group, Babangida’s statement appeared a subtle response to the recourse to the formation of groups against President Buhari’s re-election.
One of such groups is ex -President Olusegun Obasanjo’s Coalition for Nigeria Movement (CNM).
Gen. Babangida insisted that only a two-party system is the best for the country,
and recommended the fusion of parties to serve as a strong opposition to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
He also called for proactive measures to stop farmers/herders clashes in the Middle Belt, cattle rustling, armed robbery, kidnapping, gangsterism and cultism in other parts of the country.
He disowned the Afegbua-signed statement, saying since he had unfettered access to the highest authorities in the country, there was no way he would have written a sensational statement.
He, however, said it was worrisome that political events and civil unrest in many parts of the country had raised many questions on the governance and unity of the nation.
The statement said: “Recent happenings and utterances by political gladiators are alarming and not in the interest of common man that is already overstretched and apparently living from hand to mouth due to precarious economic conditions.
”Despite all these challenges, I am optimistic that the political actors will play within the ambits of political norms and decorum to ameliorate the problems facing our society now.
”I am a realist that believes in all issues in a democratic atmosphere are sincerely discussed and resolved in the spirit of give-and-take.
“Since after my military years that metamorphosed to being the only Military President in the history of Nigeria and my civilian life, I always have one clear objective that freedom can only be achieved through democracy.
”Some people find this freedom as an avenue for eroding democracy by antics of hate speeches under the guise of religion, tribal or self-imposed mentorship. This trend of pitching political class and the people against one another is unhealthy and must be discouraged by all and sundry.
”The clamour for re-alignment of governance in the country as we are approaching the 2019 election year is a welcome development only if the agitations are genuinely channelled through appropriate channels of law and order and the observance of the supremacy of the Constitution.
“Therefore, any attempt outside this circle of democratic tenets is deceptive and divisive idea capable of plunging our political journey into disarray.”
He cautioned against hate speeches and divisive statements by political gladiators.
Babangida added: “However, with due respect to individual opinion and constitutional rights, it is worrisome that political events and civil unrest in many parts of the country have raised many questions on the governance and unity of our great nation.
“Indeed 2018 has been inundated with political clamours and hot debates over the corporate existence of this country.
“Many of contributions, including constructive criticisms and engagements, have shown greater concerns for the corporate existence of Nigeria beyond 2019 general elections.”
Babangida insisted on a two-party structure for the country.
He added: “Our present political parties and their structures need parameter pillars that will make them stronger with unique ideologies. However, our present political parties need surgical operations that will align them into a reasonable number.
“ I have been an advocate of a two-party system but in our present reality in Nigeria, our political parties can fuse into a strong political association or party that can form a formidable opposition to a ruling party.
”As students of history, we are aware that many advanced democracies have two distinct ideological political parties, with a handful of smaller political groupings that serve as buffer whenever any of the known political parties derailed or became unpopular. I still believe in a two-party system as the best option for Nigeria.
”It is high time that we engage in constructive dialogue on national issues in order to have a political solution to our myriad of problems. It is sad that Nigeria had its fair share of conflicts, and we cannot continue to fall back to those dark years of bloodshed.”
After his statement was disowned, Afegbua issued a terse message, saying: “Please this is to affirm that the earlier statement issued and signed by me on behalf of General IBB stands.
“We regret the mix-up in a rebuttal issued to contradict the statement. The statement stands.”
But Abdullahi, who released the IBB-signed statement in Minna has said that the second statement was authentic and took precedent over Afegbua’s having been personally signed by the former military leader.
Last night, Gen. Babangida’s son Mohammed said that the statement personally signed by the former military president is his true position on the state of the nation.
He said Gen. Babangida would not issue a statement without reading thorough it thoroughly to ensure that it represents his opinion.
He said Afeghua was not authorized to issue that statement purportedly on behalf of Gen. Babangida.
He said Afegbua was told to withdraw it but he declined and instead insisted it was authentic.