PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARIES: 32 STATES 'LL VOTE IBB, SAYS AIDE
Alhaji Mohammed Nma Kolo is a loyalist of General Ibrahim Babangida. As chairman of Peoples Democtratic Party (PDP), he once registered the former military president into the party with the number 007 in the Sabongari ward of Chanchaga Local Government Area of Niger State.
He is the National Co-ordinator of the Nationalists Movement, a pro-Babangida group with offices across the country. In this interview, Kolo spoke on issues of national interest, especially as they affect his mentor. Excerpts.
IBB and 2011:
He has said he will spend only one term to complete the two terms for the North. What that goes to say is that he is a fair-minded person and just.
Not only that, he has expressed the desire to hand over to somebody from the South-East, which in his wisdom is to fully integrate the Igbo into the mainstream of the Nigerian politics.
Babangida is already looking beyond the 2011 elections. He is in fact, charting the roadmap to take Nigeria out of the wood. Our optimism is anchored on the belief that free and fair primaries of the PDP will be conducted because everybody in the party knows the import and consequences of conducting kangaroo primaries.
Any attempt to sacrifice free and fair primaries on the altar of some selfish or primordial interests will spell doom for our party and that is a wind that will blow no one any good. What I am saying in essence is that no step must be taken to shut out Babangida in this election, because anybody who does that will be inviting electoral misfortunes for PDP at the general elections next year.
We are happy about the arrangement of conducting the presidential primaries in the states at the same time, that is when the boys will be separated from men. We are confident that IBB will win in no fewer than 32 of the 36 states and Abuja and this is no exaggeration. All we are expecting is a level playing field where the wishes of the ordinary party member must count.
Sanctioning governors supporting zoning:
That will be the end of PDP. I am sure anybody toying with the idea wants to set the party on the path of self-destruct. We in the PDP, especially the anti-zoning elements in the party should know that PDP is not the only party in the country. As long as we have that at the back of our mind, we should be mindful of what we do because as far as I know the party was founded on the principles of fairness and justice.
One of the tenets of democracy is to avail everybody the freedom of choice. Like I said earlier, no obstacle should be put in the way of any member over the position he takes. Even if your candidate picks the flag of the party, such candidate will still need the support of everybody. PDP should not create avenue for mass defection.
I want to appeal to the leadership of the party to allow for divergent views and opinions which is the beauty of democracy. Doing otherwise will make PDP a laughing stock in the comity of civilized nations.
I have said earlier that Babangida is already thinking beyond the election. What that means is that he is not losing sleep on the 2011 election. He is even thinking of which part of the country his successor will come from. Anybody who is still thinking of whether he would win the election or not will not be talking of spending only one term or thinking of who succeeds him.
In any free and fair election, everybody knows that Babangida is the man to beat. Why we are happy is that the pronouncements of both the President and the INEC chairman Prof Jega have continued to give us hope. Don't forget that Babangida's network of contacts are there to speak for him.
But if for reasons of selfish interests we fail to get it right again in 2011 then Nigeria will easily be counted as a failed state. I am sure nobody is praying for that. We are resting our hope on the conduct of a free and fair election which will produce credible leaders at all the tiers of government.
Even out of power, IBB remains a household name in Nigeria, far more popular and highly referred, 17 good years after leaving office.. All we are waiting for is for INEC to blow the whistle signifying the beginning of the game, then you see what I am talking about.
Yes, back home, Niger Governor Mua'zu Babangida Aliyu has made it clear that IBB remains the candidate of the state. He is holding on tenaciously to the tenets that charity begins at home. He has not only declared his support for zoning, he has spoken in unmistakable terms that the government and people of Niger State will leave no stone unturned in their support for the presidential aspiration of the former president.