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IBB 'LL STEP DOWN FOR JONATHAN, IF… – ABBA AJI

By NBF News

Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senator Mohammed Abba-Aji has said General Ibrahim Babangida would eventually not contest the 2011 presidential election if President Goodluck Jonathan decides to run.

Abba-Aji also said those insisting on zoning of the presidency were giving the wrong interpretations to the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republoic of Nigeria as well as the constitution of the Peoples Democratic Party, stressing that the zoning arrangement was not properly put in place by the relevant organs of the PDP. He added that the arrangement was borne out of a decision taken by a few members of the PDP under informal circumstances.

Senator Abba-Aji who is also the Chairman of the newly-formed 'Friends of Democracy for Goodluck Jonathan' told journalists in Abuja on Thursday that the former military president would step aside from the presidential race any moment from now.

Abba-Aji, the Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Matters noted that there were very good reasons why Babangida would not contest the election with Jonathan.

According to him: 'Babangida understands what is at stake in Nigeria today and would not do anything that could jeopardise the unity and stability of the nation. The former military leader had made similar personal and political sacrifices in the past, by sacrificing his personal interests for the good of the country.'

The Presidential Adviser further said Babangida is not just a member of the PDP but a well respected leader of the party. He added that members of the party respect him so much owing to the personal and political sacrifices he made in the past.

'Remember he had stepped aside before and at the time he stepped aside, he was in military uniform. Today, he is a seasoned politician, so he has even more reasons to step aside. He had done it before and he will do it again,' Abba-Aji enthused.

He said the Friends of Democracy will approach Babangida to beg him to, in the interest of the nation, not only step aside but to step into its fold in order to collectively support and achieve a Goodluck Jonathan presidency in 2011.

According to Senator Abba-Aji; 'General Babangida has proven to be a man with a large heart and he will accommodate it one more time. I have no fear in my mind that more than anybody else, he knows what is at stake in this country. He has ruled this country for quite some time and he very well knows where the shoe pinches. He knows that President Jonathan has spent only three years in the saddle and that he is entitled to a second term.'

The Presidential aide further said; 'I am sure that when we reach that stage, we will all go to Minna. We will all go on our knees and beg him. We will plead with him to join us in supporting Goodluck Jonathan and next time we will all join hands to support IBB after Jonathan must have had his turn. I have no doubts in my mind that General Babangida will listen to us. I am sure he can't say no to us.'

He explained that the decision by his group to support the President in 2011 was informed by the need for continuity and stability of the country, adding that most of the country's problems arise from frequent changes in leadership which have always require that we go back to the drawing board every now and then to start all over again.

Senator Abba-Aji ruled out the possibility of PDP Governors rejecting Jonathan at the party's national convention, saying that as the leader of the party, the President enjoys cordial relationship with the Governors adding that a good number of the State Chief Executives are his personal friends.