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IBB's Men Move to Take Over ANPP: Former President assures aides he would run in 2007

Posted by By Philip Ogunmade on 2005/08/09 | Views: 444 |

IBB's Men Move to Take Over ANPP: Former President assures aides he would run in 2007


In a desperate move aimed at achieving his presidential ambition, former military president, General Ibrahim Babangida and his supporters have may have commenced moves to take over the All Nigeria People's Party (ANPP).

In a desperate move aimed at achieving his presidential ambition, former military president, General Ibrahim Babangida and his supporters have may have commenced moves to take over the All Nigeria People's Party (ANPP).

THISDAY checks reveal-ed that the recent move was spurred by Babangida's announcement to his supporters that he had made up his mind to contest the 2007 presidential election. He was said to have told the supporters at a meeting in Minna that he believed President Olusegun Obasanjo would honour his pledge to leave at the end of his tenure.

The former military ruler is said to be unsure if he would be able to realise his presidential ambition on the People's Democratic Party (PDP) platform.

Babangida was said to have believed that if President Obasanjo's men make it impossible for him to use the PDP platform, then the ANPP can come in handy either as an alternative platform or an opposition group. Also, for Babangida and his associates, taking control of the ANPP further gurantees victory in the 2007 polls if he eventually secures PDP presidential ticket.

THISDAY gathered that Sokoto State governor, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa is the arrowhead of the Babangida group's plan to take control of ANPP machinery.

Sources said it was in pursuit of Babangida's agenda that the leadership of the party's Senate caucus was changed last week.

A source revealed that a similar attempt was made to change the party leadership at the House of Representatives, but the national secretariat of the party swiftly wrote a letter to Speaker Aminu Bello Masari to "let the status quo remain until the party has looked into the case."

"Masari," the source said, "has been acting on that until this morning. The leader of the ANPP called this morning that Masari is under intense pressure."

The source disclosed that Masari had eventually been prevailed upon and the change in the leadership of the party's caucus at the House would be made today.

It was gathered that the battle is now being fought on the basis of religious and ethnic sentiments. "They bring up religious and ethnic sentiments .The leader of the House, Salik called me this morning that Masari is under intense pressure, that this thing is Arewa cause," the source said.

The source further revealed that Obasanjo's overwhelming influence on PDP as well as the disposition of ANPP National Chairman Don Etiebet have forced IBB's group to "declare war on the party" with the intention to push Etiebet aside so that it becomes easy to pursue their objectives.

"When it happened that Obasanjo was taking over PDP, certain reactionary forces in the North were not comfortable. They are also not comfortable with Etiebet because of his principles. War was declared by IBB's camp. The war was overcome then, but the battle is still on. Bafarawa is the commander-in-chief. They have deployed resources to achieve that objective. Bafarawa has not contributed a dime to that party and he's been at loggerheads with Etiebet, "he said.

THISDAY learnt that some ANPP governors and leaders are opposed to Babangida's candidacy in their party, because of what they termed his inconsistency. He was said to have promised to join the party in 2003 and contest. He later balked thereby forcing the party to quickly adopt his rival, Major General Muhammadu Buhari as the presidential flagbearer.

"Babangida kept everybody waiting till almost one minute to 12 0 'clock. If we had gone for open election, Rochas (Okorocha) would have won against Buhari and others because he has the money and his campaign was populist. When Babangida didn't come, the idea was to go and bring in this chap (Okorocha).

They said no. (Admiral Augustus) Aikhomu with all his clout was ready to resign. Since Etiebet became chairman, Babangida has never been comfortable with him, because he's not a hungry man. When he now discovered that PDP is not a place he can be, he began plans to remove Etiebet," the source said.

But another source said the Babangida group's move is part of a larger plot by some northern elements to force Obasanjo to comply with the old arrangement in the PDP that power should shift between North and South by ensuring that only Northerners contest in the 20007 polls.

It is also believed that if Babangida's supporters can take control of the ANPP, they can use it to compel Obasanjo to halt any plans to frustrate Babangida's ambition.

"If Obasanjo feels he can start moving against Babangida at the end of his administration, then the IBB people will rely on the ANPP to rally round a formidable opposition to checkmate him," said a pro-Babangida ANPP chieftain.

The current move is a resurgence of the earlier crisis in the party in which Bafarawa announced Etiebet’s suspension over allegation of financial misappropriation and his eventual replacement by Lt. General Jeremiah Useni.

Through prompt intervention championed by Kebbi State governor, Adamu Aliero and Aikhomu, who is chairman Board of Trusttes, peace was brokered and Etiebet was re-instated.

Useni was later compensated with his nomination into the just concluded National Political Reform Conference (NPRC).

However, despite the resolution of the crisis, internal crisis rocking the party has continued and since then, there's no love lost between Bafarawa and Etiebet. The crisis had led to a division down the party rank.
Meanwhile, Babangida has told his close associates that he has finally made up his mind to contest the 2007 presidential polls.

The former military leader, sources told THISDAY, was said to have told his close associates that he needed to be president again to correct the wrong perception of him and who he is.

“He said as a leader concerned with his place in history, he is not satisfied that Nigerians have, since his exit from power, been judging him with his administration’s annulment of June 12, 1993 presidential election.

“He is particularly unhappy that every other achievement of his administration has been overshadowed by the annulment. He strongly believes if he can be president again, he would correct the wrong perception and have his place assured in history,” one of Babangida’s men told THISDAY.

Babangida, who was forced out of office in August 1993 following his annulment of June 12 presidential election believed to have been won by the late business mogul Moshood Abiola, has been blamed for most of Nigeria’s ills.
There are many groups already compaigning for his return to Aso Rock in 2007.


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