Former Military President Ibrahim Babangida has told the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to count him out of its rebranding process. This is as the opposition party yesterday asked Nigerians to forgive PDP for its mistakes and impunity while it governed the country for 16 years.
The former military ruler stated that at 74, he cannot play partisan politics. T he opposition party had invited Babangida for the PDP Rebranding Conference scheduled for Thursday, November 12. The Thursday’s conference is aimed at repositioning the PDP after its poor outing at the 2015 general elections.
“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,” Babangida stated in a statement made available to New Telegraph.
Babangida also denied insinuation that the PDP rebranding process is part of the plot to drag him into the 2019 presidency. He described the allegation as ludicrous. He said: “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-year-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 national unity.” The former military ruler stated that he has quit politics after his failed presidential bid in 2011. His words:
“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, stabilising 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.” Babangida said since his exit from partisan politics in 2011, he has remained an elder statesman and “consultant-inchief” to political office seekers and other likeminds who want his input in their aspirations. According to him, “At 74, I feel a deep sense of fulfilment 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.
“I have many friends and associates in the two dominant political parties; the All Progressives Congress (APC) and PDP, and numerous other smaller political parties. At this stage of my political journey, I want to be able to interact and socialise with them without being branded ‘anti-party’.”