Former Military President, General Ibrahim Babangida, has called on Nigerians to queue behind the Chief Olu Falae-led Social Democratic Party (SDP) for the 2019 general election. Babangida made the call when the national leadership of the party, led by Falae, visited him at his hill-top mansion in Minna. According to him: “If I hadn’t been too old, I would have loved to join the Youth Vanguard of your party.
I have faith in the political party for what it is and what it stands for.” IBB said further that, “when I heard in the news that a party has come onboard, the first thing that occurred to me was that the name sounds familiar. So, I made a decision that I will wait and see how it plays out. “I was looking at how SDP will populate itself. And then, the next pleasing thing that I heard was that it has people like Olu Falae, Professor Jerry Gana, and Professor Tunde Adeniran.
“After that, I said this party is real because most of the names are names that I have known and I have worked with and for the sake of this country, so I said the party is smart to have convinced all these gentlemen to come and join them. “That is why I did not hesitate to give direction to those who came to me to seek advice on which direction to go”.
Babangida added that the vision he has for the country is the same vision that is shared by those driving the SDP, adding that, “the security and wellbeing of Nigerians is very important and you have identified this in your programme. “Women and youths in the country and, indeed, Nigerians must rally round you and support you to ensure that this is realisable.
“I know it can be done. I have never said this to any political party before, but I can tell you that the party has people who have contributed a lot to this country, people whose contributions to Nigeria is legendary and what you have put ahead of you is what this country needs. “I remember when Jerry Gana was the Chairman of MAMSA. One of the primary things he was doing was to educate the ordinary person.
The level of awareness then was not as high as it is now. So, you should take advantage of the digital age now and pass a lot of information to the young men and women of this country because they form over 65 per cent of the population and if you succeed in doing that, I think it will be better for this country.
“So, I call on all the younger generation, including the Nigerian women, to rally behind SDP because it is populated by men of integrity, men who when they work, they work well, when they speak, they speak well. “You must remain firm in this your project because the country has a lot to benefit from you.
“The people are willing and ready to follow whoever is going to lead them aright and I am sure your leadership of the party is going to do that.” Babangida advised the leadership of the party to, as a matter of necessity, make its manifestos public to Nigerians, so that they can be held accountable. “You must tell Nigerians what you intend to do for them because this is very important. The people must know if we vote SDP, what do we expect, so that it becomes politics of issues, not politics of insult and name calling”, he added. Earlier, the national chairman of the party, Chief Olu Falae, told Babangida that the leadership of the SDP was in his house as part of their nationwide consultations to brief him on the activities of the party and to equally solicit for his support and wise counselling. He said he decided to come to Minna with entire leadership of the party as it first point of call as a mark of respect, because Babangida brought him into political limelight 32 years ago, when he appointed him Secretary to the Government of the Federation, and since then, he has remained in the political arena of the country. Accordingly, he said: “32 years and four months ago, I had a privilege of sitting with President Babangida for the first time in council chamber at the Dodan Barack, Lagos.
That was when he appointed me Secretary to the Federal Government and to me, that was the day he recruited me into politics. “So, Babangida recruited me to politics 32 years ago and he didn’t know it was going be permanent because I thought at the end of my tenure, I will return to my banking industry at Broad Street in Lagos, but that was not to be.
Till today, I am still in politics”. Falae told his host that SDP is child of necessity, born out of the desire to rescue the country from the present decay in every sphere of lives. “When I was approached to accept all the Progressives who have been frustrated from different political parties to come together to form a formidable team to rescue Nigeria, I readily agreed because this country must be rescued from the present state of corruption and impunity”. “When SDP takes over the government in 2019, by the grace of God, we will reduce corruption to the barest minimum. If I am preaching against corruption and I am stealing money, people will not follow my example. But if I am totally committed to fighting corruption without bias, people will surely take me seriously. Corruption can be fought if we, the leaders, genuinely embrace transparency, not what we are seeing today.”