….Confirms rumours of interest in Presidency 2011
By Simon Ebegbulem, Gabriel Enogholase in Benin and Austin Ogwuda in Asaba
Former military ruler, General Ibrahim Babangida declared yesterday that Nigerians â€œdonâ€™t want people who we will doubt whether they are actual leadersâ€.
Gen. Babangida who had been asked by reporters at the Benin airport about his view on how credible leaders could emerge in Nigeria said: â€œAll of us are looking forward to the electoral reform because we want a legitimate election. We want an election everybody will accept.
â€œWe want leaders that will emerge that can stop these things (rigging)â€: â€œWe donâ€™t want people who we will doubt whether they are actual leadersâ€.
He was on his way to Asaba, to attend a memorial lecture in honour of his wife, Maryam, who died last December.
Gen. Babangida who is widely speculated to be warming up for the 2011 presidential race declined to elaborate on his ambition.Â He merely said the speculations were â€œcorrectâ€.
He had told reporters on April 1, 2010, in Ikeja that he was still â€œconsultingâ€ on whether to contest or not. In an earlier interview he had said he would need his partyâ€™s ticket to contest.
But at the palace of Asagba of Asaba where he was conferred with the title of Dike Doziani, yesterday, he said: â€œlet me say so now loud and clear in this city and indeed through you to other Nigerian compatriots that it is not an accident of history that I have been engaged in the development process of our country.
â€œThe engagementâ€, he went on, â€œis based on a combination of factors including political will, personal choice, determination, mission and above all, a vision for a better and productive Nigeria . I will be the first to humbly acknowledge the many pitfalls, difficulties and challenges which NigeriaÂ had to contend in the conduct of its public affairs.
â€œI am also equally andÂ critically conscious of the factor of the contributions to national development and the necessary public engagements about our future greatness and in the course of this journey to greatness, Nigerians have entrepreneur spirit and essential national values to restore our greatness. We are all involved in that restoration. In fact NigeriaÂ is nothing without such supportive national effortsâ€, he added.
*Asaba monarch on IBB
The Asagba of Asaba, Obi Chike Edozien on the occasion, said, â€œwe view the conferment of this chieftaincy title not only as a recognition and appreciation of your past immense services to our community and our country but also a call for even greater future service.
â€œIt is evident from the events of our recent past that our country is in dire need of a strong, purposeful, dedicated and selfless leadership. We hope that notwithstanding your well-earned retirement, you will not hesitate to make it possible for us all to benefit in full from your experience, leadership, wisdom and popularityâ€.
The late Maryam hailed from Asaba.
*IBB weeps at Lecture
At the lecture, Gen. Babangida fought back tears as emotion gripped the hall.Â Scores of other guests also wiped their faces with handkerchief when the sister of the former First Lady, Dr. Nkadi Onyegegbu (nee Okogwu) started reeling out Maryamâ€™s numerous achievements in a four-page tribute. At a point, the former military leader took a white handkerchief from his pocket to mop tears.
Earlier in his remarks, Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State said â€œthere is no doubt that Dr. (Mrs) Maryam Ndidi Babangida in whose memory we are all gathered here today, was a great woman, a role model and pace setter who devoted most of her life to improve on the lot of the less privileged women in the society particularly those in the rural areas.
â€œWith her pet project, Better Life for Rural Women and later Better Life For African Rural Women, she was able to mobilize support and galvanize policy makers to initiate and implement policies and programmes to improve the condition of women and attract attention to issues involving womenfolkâ€.
Mrs. Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, represented by the Deputy High Commissioner South African High Commission Abuja in a lecture entitled â€œEmpowering Women in Africaâ€™ said â€œIn South Africa, we have established the Progressive Womenâ€™s Movement whose convener is our former Deputy President, Her Excellency Madame Baleka Mbethe. â€œWe have been exploring ways in which we can work together with the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to try and see how best we can create linkages between our Progressive Womenâ€™s Movement with like-minded women organizations in Nigeriaâ€.
She noted that the â€œestablishment of such linkages will serve as a good example of people-to-people ties between our two countriesâ€.
Babangida was formally conferred with the traditional chieftaincy title of â€œDike-Dozianiâ€, meaning (Great Warrior who transformed the land positively) while the late wife was posthumously conferred with the chieftaincy title of â€œOchiligwe-Nneoha (mother of all) of Asaba by the Asagba of Asagba, Obi Chike Edozien â€œin recognition of her contributions to the development of women, Asaba community, Anioma nation, Delta state and Nigeria at largeâ€.
Also yesterday, the foundation laying ceremony of Maryam Ndidi Babangida Women Development Centre was performed by General Ibrahim Babangida.
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