Nigeria’s former Military President, General Ibrahim Babangida (rtd), has reacted to the defection of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The reaction comes three days after the former vice president announced that he was returning to the PDP, following his resignation from the All Progressives Congress (APC) last month.
IBB, as fondly called, said Atiku’s case was not the first in the country and that he had the right to associate himself with any political party of his choice.
“He (Atiku) is a Nigerian; he is allowed to go to any party and our constitution allows it. So, it is not new and there is nothing wrong for politicians to move from one party to another,” he said on Wednesday.
The elder statesman was speaking when he received members of the PDP Convention Planning Committee led by their Chairman and Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, at his residence in Minna, the Niger State capital.
He was also confident that the committee would conduct a hitch-free and widely accepted national convention on Saturday, December 9 in Abuja.
“I am glad they (committee members) are working hard and I have seen that they want to make sure that the convention of the PDP is rancour-free, transparent, and everybody will be given a level playing ground.
“PDP will see one of the best conventions like never before. The ability of any party to go through the problems of party formation – challenges of going through the ups and downs and come together again after learning lessons from what happened and agree to move forward – is good for democracy,” he said.
On his part, Governor Okowa said the visit was in line with the tradition of the party to PDP elders and leaders for the right decisions to be taken, especially as the convention draws closer.
He also assured the former Head of State that adequate measures were being put in place to ensure a successful convention aimed at spurring more former members to reunite with the party.
Okowa said: “A lot has been put on the ground for a successful convention to be held. We thank the Caretaker Committee of our party because they have done a lot ahead of the inauguration on Monday, and since then, we have held several meetings.”
“The various sub-committees are really working very hard. As at today, we are confident that we are on course, in terms of trying to provide all that has to be done on Saturday.
“We are going to have an exciting convention, there is no doubt about that; everything concerning the electoral process has been put in place, the accreditation team by today will get the last list of the statutory delegates from Osun and Anambra states,” he added.
The governor, however, said the convention be restricted as not all members would be granted access to the venue in the interest of the party.
He also informed the PDP chieftain that he was aware of the allegations that some governors were trying to hijack the process, saying it was speculative and wrong.
“The governors did not take a decision on that and we have 25 states that are not controlled by the PDP governors; we believe more persons will come into our party and we are ready to receive them,” he said.