When Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida (IBB) got wind of a letter making the rounds in his name on Sunday, February 4, he just didn’t know what to make of it all.
So, he did the one thing he felt was reasonable at the time – he reached out to the presidency and washed his hands off the letter. Without flinching.
The letter was critical of the Buhari administration. In it, IBB urged the president not to seek re-election in 2019 by making way for a new generation of leaders.
IBB also came down hard on Buhari for how he has handled the herdsmen crisis and security challenges in the land.
Under the bus
Top ranking presidency officials disclosed to Pulse on the basis of anonymity that IBB wasted no time throwing Kassim Afegbua under the bus in the wake of the letter.
Nicknamed ‘Maradona’ and ‘Evil Genius’ during his spell as military president from 1985 to 1993, IBB and Afegbua have maintained a close working relationship since the former famously ‘stepped aside’ after annulling what was regarded as Nigeria’s freest and fairest election to this day.
Afegbua therefore had no reason to believe that IBB was going to issue a statement denying authorship of a widely circulated and well received letter. So, he doubled down as a rebuttal from Minna made the rounds.
“The statement is in order”, Afegbua said of the first letter. “IBB did not hold any press conference in Minna. It was overzealous people that issued that statement of his denial. I wouldn’t issue any statement without his approval. Go ahead with the statement. I have spoken with him and he said he has not recanted the statement,” Afegbua was quoted as saying by Daily Trust as doubts swirled over the authenticity of the first letter.
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However, presidency sources told Pulse that when IBB put a phone call across to the Villa, he disclosed that he knew next to nothing about Afegbua’s letter.
“That was why the police immediately swung into action and declared Afegbua wanted for putting out a false statement, defaming and heating up the polity”, Pulse was told.
‘Working for an enemy’
Presidency officials also believe that Afegbua is working for a yet-to-be-named presidential candidate who will soon challenge Buhari for the number one job in the land in 2019.
Even though ThisDay newspaper reported that IBB has said the first statement was issued with his blessings, there’s still some confusion in the land over whether those were really IBB’s words and message.
A second watered-down statement was issued on the heels of the first; modifying some of the text and message in the first.
A source in Minna told Pulse that IBB is still trying to wrap his head round the events of the past week and will address the press in the days ahead to set the records straight.
Afegbua has already turned himself in to the police.
The spokesperson has also sued the police and two media outlets for violating his fundamental rights and for harassing him by declaring him wanted.
Afegbua is demanding N1 billion from the police for his troubles.