IBB'S AMBITION SCARED ME, SAYS JONATHAN
President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday admitted that the initial presence of former military president, General Ibrahim Babangida (IBB) in the presidential race gave him a cause for worry. Jonathan who stated this at his presidential campaign rally in Minna, noted that IBB commanded a good political followership across the country and would have given him a good run for his money if he had forged ahead with his ambition.
He attributed part of his worries to what he identified as a close political bond between him and the former military president whom he described as a father. 'When IBB indicated interest in the presidential race I felt myself in a state of confusion and discomfort and for obvious reasons. He was a former head of state and his enormous goodwill meant he will get a lot of supporters across the country.
'In addition to this, he is my mentor. He was always there for me, particularly in my days as deputy governor. So, you can see my dilemma when he declared for president under the same party. I felt so relieved when along the line he let go of his ambition. I felt happy when after the primaries he called and congratulated me,' the president submitted. Dr. Jonathan also poured encomiums on another former head of state of Niger origin, General Abdulsalam, describing him as the harbinger of new democracy.
The president also described General Abdulsalam Abubakar as a rare patriot and declared that it was to his credit and courage that the country was delivered from the clutches of military dictatorship. 'We remain grateful to General Abdulsalam for giving democracy an opportunity to come back on stream and also flourish. He had a chance in 1999 to hold on to power for another five years or so but he was courageous enough to organise an election and hand over power to a civilian government,' he noted.
Jonathan noted that Niger State was undergoing positive structural development and attributed same to the good vision and sincerity of purpose exhibited by Governor Babangida Aliyu. He also commended the governor for maintaining the peace within the PDP and among the general public, adding that the ruling party was ahead of opposition parties in the state because the governor worked hard to keep it in one peace.
The president promised to work vigorously toward job creation but noted that any such policy desire would be a mirage where the problems bedeviling the power sector were not rectified.