Barely 24hrs After IBB Statement, Police Declare Ex-President’s Spokeman Afegbua Wanted
The Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, has declared Kazeem Afegbua, the media adviser to ex-president Babangida wanted over the statement he issued on behalf of his principal.
The IG ordered the arrest of Afegbua in a statement by the Force Public Relations Officer, Jimoh Moshood, on Monday.
The statement reads, “The IGP has ordered the arrest of Kashim Afegbua for making false statements, defamation of character and for an act capable of instigating public disturbance throughout the country.
“He is therefore declared wanted by the Nigeria Police Force and should report at the nearest police station anywhere he is in the country.”
There had been confusion on Sunday over two statements purportedly written by the former military dictator, which bordered on the 2019 elections, herdsmen/farmers’ crisis and other issues plaguing the nation.
In an earlier statement titled, ‘Towards a National Rebirth,’ and signed by Afegbua, Babangida advised Nigerians to do away with analogue leaders and embrace those of the digital age.
In the statement, Babangida was quoted as saying that while Buhari reserved the right to seek re-election in 2019, the time had come for Nigerians to unite behind a younger candidate.
The statement read in part, “In the fullness of our present realities, we need to cooperate with President Muhammadu Buhari to complete his term of office on May 29, 2019, and collectively prepare the way for new generation leaders to assume the mantle of leadership of the country.
“While offering this advice, I speak as a stakeholder, former President, concerned Nigerian and a patriot who desires to see new paradigms in our shared commitment to get this country running.
“While saying this also, I do not intend to deny President Buhari his inalienable right to vote and be voted for, but there comes a time in the life of a nation, when personal ambition should not override national interest.”
According to the statement, Babangida said the All Progressives Congress had failed to honour its many campaign promises.
The former dictator had said he was tempted to ask the ruling party to present Nigerians with the evidence of “change.”
The statement added, “When the ruling party campaigned with the change mantra, I had thought they would device new methods, provoke new initiatives and proffer new ways to addressing some of our developmental problems.
“By now, in line with her manifesto, one would have thought that the APC would give a fillip to the idea of devolution of powers and tinker with processes that would strengthen and reform the various sectors of the economy.
“Like I did state in my previous statement late last year, devolution of powers or restructuring is an idea whose time has come if we must be honest with ourselves. We need to critically address the issue and take informed positions based on the expectations of the people on how to make the union work better.
“Political parties should not exploit this as a decoy to woo voters because election time is here. We need to begin the process of restructuring both in the letter and spirit of it.”
The former dictator, who ruled from 1985 to 1993, was also quoted as asking the Federal Government to encourage herdsmen to set up ranches instead of encroaching on farmlands.
The statement said Babangida expressed shock over the killings in some states especially Benue, which he described as a pogrom.
However, in a statement issued hours later in Minna, the former dictator said the earlier statement was Afegbua’s personal opinion.
Babangida, who annulled the June 12 presidential election in 1993, said he had unfettered access to Buhari and could meet him in person without resorting to any open letter.
The statement read in part, “I have unfettered access and channel of communication with the highest authorities in the country without necessarily going public with a sensational statement. Therefore, the views expressed in the alleged statement are not mine but the writer’s.”
The former dictator had, however, expressed worry over the state of the nation, adding that there was a need for Nigerians to embrace unity.
Banagida added, “As students of history, we are aware that many advanced democracies have two distinct ideological political parties, with a handful of smaller political groupings that serve as buffer whenever any of the known political parties derailed or became unpopular. I still believe in a two-party system as the best option for Nigeria.”
Babangida had said he believed that all issues in a democratic atmosphere should be discussed and resolved in the spirit of give and take.
“Since after my military years that metamorphosed to the only military President in the history of Nigeria and my civilian life, I always have one clear objective that freedom can only be achieved through democracy,” he added.
According to him, the clamour for re-alignment of governance in the country as “we are approaching 2019 election year is a welcome development.”
Afegbua had, however, stood by the statement, insisting that he sat with the former dictator before the statement was issued.
He said as one who had been doing the job for over 14 years, he could not issue such a statement without the permission of his principal.
The spokesman said it was some overzealous people around Babangida that issued the rebuttal.
Afegbua added, “I extracted commitment from him and authorisation before I issued the statement; but of course you know IBB is for everyone and so people want to love him more than he loves himself.
“When the statement was sent and some of his friends saw the twist of the reportage on the social media and how they sensationalised it, they felt that we were just trying to put the former President on a collision course with the present President and they went to write a statement to deny it but I have since spoken to him.
“He has called me to say that statement stands and the kernel of that statement should inform public discourse and not people necessarily personalising it as if it were against the sitting President.”