Jonathan Denies Meeting Babangida Over 2011
ABUJA, August 30, (THEWILL) - President Goodluck Jonathan today refuted reports that he met with former military dictator, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, in order to talk the retired soldier out of his ambition to return to the seat of power in 2011.
The rebuttal is coming on the heels of a report published over the weekend by a national daily, Vanguard, that President Jonathan met with General Babangida to persuade him to abandon his presidential ambition.
The President also rebuffed another report in the same newspaper that he complained to some northern groups that visited him that some South-South Governors were out to sabotage him.
Mr. Ima Niboro, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, said, the reports were all tissue of lies, stating that the particular medium was firmly reminded that it was false but still had not retracted the story, adding that the report is a campaign of calumny against Mr. President.
"Vanguard is at again when it served up a tissue of lies today on the president’s recent meeting with former military president, General Ibrahim Babangida. This comes after an out rightly false claim served up on Sunday, to the effect that the president complained to some northern group that visited him that some South South Governors were out to sabotage him. The newspaper refused to correct this false report even after it was firmly reminded that it failed to double check its information, and that the story is completely untrue", Niboro said.
"Twenty four hours later, Vanguard is at it again. This time, it is another lie that the president tried to talk Babangida out of his ambition to return to office.
"Anyone who has even a passing acquaintance with the president knows he is not one who dissuades people from pursuing their personal ambitions. This is even more so when there is no purpose to be served by it, since the long suffering mass of the Nigerian people would decide who governs them in a free and fair contest," he said.
"Since June 12, 1993, Nigerians have in successive elections become wiser. The next presidential elections, no matter who the candidates are, would sound a resonant Never Again! Never again shall the will of the Nigerian people be quashed underfoot by the vaunting ambitions of a few.
"This is what the president has promised Nigerians, and he is fully committed to delivering on this pledge. It is therefore unfortunate that any self-respecting newspaper should lend its pages to reporting a series of lies against the person and the institution of the presidency. These tales are unverified and sourced from openly interested parties. They are lies, pure and simple.
"The fact is that President Jonathan has been meeting different leaders on different occasions and platforms. Some have come to inform him of their intention to run for the presidency. Others he has met with as a matter of courtesy being a sitting president, and keen to ensure that the next presidential elections do not degenerate into a do or die affair as our elections are sometimes won’t to do.
"He has met former Vice President Atiku Abubakar; he has met Babangida; he has met Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, and will meet him again soon. He has met with Gen. Yakubu Gowon, two time president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo; former president, Alhaji Shehu Shagari; former Vice President, Alex Ekwueme, and former head of state, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar. He will meet with even more leaders and political actors as the race to 2011 heats up," Niboro said in the statement.
The Special Adviser added that, "It is extremely uncharitable for any one to spin these meetings in such negative lights, and attempt to force the president into retreat from these well thought out engagements with political leaders of all hue and disposition in the interest of the country.
"We think it is time to put an end to this long line of false stories and verify what is served to the general public."