By McPhilips Nwachukwu
AS the 2011 election year draws near, political forces are beginning to realign positions and strategies in aÂ bid of not only clinching their dream political positions, but also to continue to asserting their relevance before the voting electorate, andÂ in all the political configurations.
One ofÂ suchÂ politicalÂ re-alignments took place recently at aÂ wellÂ heeledÂ birthday celebration organised in honour of Otunba Gbenga Danielâ€™s 54thÂ year of birthÂ at the Valley View Auditorium, Governorâ€™s Lodge, Abeokuta, Ogun State under the distinguished chairmanship of formerÂ Military President, General Ibrahim Babanginda.
The well attended birthday party, which alsoÂ inaugurated the birth of Otunba Gbenga Daniel Birthday Lecture Series, kick started with a lectureÂ titled: The Personalities, The Institutions & The Future of Democracy in Nigeria delivered by popularÂ presenter of Don Kroah Show, an issues driven daily radio talk at WAVA Washington.
Dr.Â Don Kroah in all colorations pointed to a well orchestrated platform toÂ test run the political climate regarding the hush and whispered aspiration of former President Babangindaâ€™s planÂ to stage a come back for the nationâ€™s number one seat.
Earlier, at the airport, on arrival in Lagos for the party, the maverick political maradona had told journalists that he was not ready yet to make any categorical statement about his rumoured interest in the number one seat since according to him, â€œ I am still consulting with my political associates on how to prosecute the 2011 election.â€
Though, the former longest serving military leader has refused to make an official statement regarding his interest in the 2011 presidential elections, however his action since 2007, which according to a newspaperÂ report in which he is quoted to have said,â€ Once the whistle is blown, I would do what I have to do, depending on what the mood of the people is. Okay, why donâ€™t I tell you this, if I get the nomination of my party, I will contest.â€, clearly points to the unfettered determination of the â€œstepped asideâ€ former president to re-launching his control over the nationâ€™s power apparatus.
Last weekâ€™s tactical framingÂ presentation of the gap toothed maverick politician to a well heeled meeting that had in attendance two most important Royal Fathers of Nigeria: the Alake of Egbaland and Olowu of Owu coupled with the peaceful conduct of the gathering in the very land of the acclaimed winner of the abortedÂ 1993 Presidential election, MKO Abiola further confirmed the mood testing mechanism of Babanginda, which in all estimations gave him the assurance that the coast is now clear to steer to his ambition.
Surprisingly, asÂ theÂ former President and his entourage walked into the capacity filledÂ Valley View Auditorium venue of the occasion, the thunderous and deafeningÂ applause that heralded his arrival immediately sent a signal of the kind of popularity theÂ Niger State born political god father still wields, and the willingness of the people to having him back should he declare interest.
To set the tone ofÂ thatÂ ironic stage was one of the compeers of the gathering, media chieftain, Prince Emeka Obasi, who introduced the gap toothed General as â€œ Nigeriaâ€™s best President since after Awolowo.â€ He also introduced him lavishly asÂ Nigeriaâ€™sÂ President yesterday ,andâ€¦ apparently expecting theÂ audience to say, “the future.â€
As the meeting, which had in attendance also,the Governor of Rivers State, H.E. Chibuike Rotimi Amechi progressed, Babanginda,Â whose regime annulled theÂ 2003 general election said to have beenÂ won by late billionaire politician, MKO Abiola made an important revelation as to the direction his government would take should he succeedÂ in staging a come back to power.
The former military dictator, who is accused by many a critic as a confederalist, atÂ that quen queritis (whom do you seek) meetingÂ holdenÂ in the Gateway State of Ogun canvassed for a new political template, when he saidÂ that he will only supportÂ candidates, who believe in true federalism.
â€œSome people have tagged me as an advocate of conferedalism. True federalism is the issue for this country. We have lived together for 50 years and there are issues that must be addressed.â€ He said.
Continuing he added that,â€ I believe in small government, not big governments. We do not have to say government must do everything. Some of the best brains in the world areÂ Nigerians, so why canâ€™t we make use of them? I want to say that who ever believes in true federalism will have my vote in 2011.â€
This new found political conviction tacitly foreshadows Babangindaâ€™s new regime agenda in the light of the nationâ€™s mired political climate resulting from all forms of ethnic agitations bothering on marginalisation; and also on the deformed nature of the polity.
But sensing that Babanginda may not have an easy ride to the exalted position, his host, Otunba Gbenga Daniel rose quickly to his defense, in the guise of a vote of thanks.
The Ogun State Governor in a well scripted apology appealed to the audience to tamper justice with mercy by pardoningÂ Babanginda, whose inglorious annulment of that historic election deniedÂ Nigeria one significant moment of witnessing a properly conducted free and fair election.
According to Governor Daniel,Â “While we may fault some of his actions and inactions, while holding the reign of power of our country, his passion for the progress and peace of Nigeria can hardly be faulted. Yet his errors of judgement at one point or the other, I am convinced, are not unforgivable.
â€œAt the debris of anger and rightful indignation, we must erect high-rise monument of forgiveness, lest we are consumed by a sad memory which can only stall our progress and unity as a people.
â€œThus, I plead that we should forgive real and perceived injustices done to one another and focus on the journey ahead, and we move ahead to get our nation to its historically appointed destination in the comity of nations.â€