By SIMON EBEGBULEM AND GABRIEL ENOGHOLASE
BENIN CITY-FORMER military President, General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, today (Saturday), in Benin City, declared his intention to run for the 2011 Presidential election.
IBB who spoke to newsmen at the Benin Airport while on his way to Asaba, Delta state, to attend the commissioning of Mariam Babangida dual carriage way and a lecture in honour of his late wife, said the persistent rumour by most Nigerians including his political associates and admirers about his intention to return to Aso Rock as a civilian President â€œis correctâ€.
The former military President who was dressed in a white Babariga, landed at the Benin Airport in a charted airline with registration number 5N-BLW at about 9:30am and was greeted by the Governor of Delta state, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan and the deputy governor of Edo state, Dr Pius Odubu. The Governor of Niger state, Alhaji Aliu Babangida was also in the entourage of the former President. Other dignitaries at the airport included Senator Ehigie Uzamere, Chief of Staff to the Edo state government, Osarodion Ogie and John Mayaki.
It would be recalled that the former military president who ruled Nigeria from 1985 â€“ 1993, had told Nigerians during the 54th birthday of Otunba Gbenga Daniels, Governor of Ogun State that he was still consulting with his friends and allies on whether he would contest the 2011 presidential election.
Only recently, former President Olusegun Obasanjo was reported to have held secret meeting with Babangida on the 2011 presidential election. Asked what he was going to do in Delta state, IBB asserted that â€œI am going to Delta State because of the special love I have for it and courtesy of the Delta State Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan. I am looking forward to going to Delta state because that is my ancestral home. I think that is enough for todayâ€.
Governor Babangida who also spoke to newsmen, stated that Nigerians look forward to the thorough implementation of the Justice Uwais report on the electoral reform in order to enthrone a transparent electoral process before the 2011 general elections.
He said the reform exercise was the only panacea for the emergence of credible leaders without questions about their character and ability to deliver on the dividends of democracy. â€œAll of us are looking forward to it (electoral reform) because we want a legitimate election. We want an election everybody will accept. We want leaders that will emerge, that can say stop these things. We donâ€™t want people whom we will doubt whether they are actual leadersâ€.
Other dignitaries with General Babangida included the former National Chairman of the United Nigeria Poeples Party, Alhaji Saleh Jumbo and the former Director of military Intelligence (DMI), Halilu Akilu and several others.