A former military president, Ibrahim Babangida, on Wednesday denied turning down a breakfast invitation from President Goodluck Jonathan, saying no such invitation was extended to him by the president.
A media report said on Tuesday that the former military president rebuffed the invitation by Mr. Jonathan. A statement from the former ruler’s aides said the report was utterly false, adding that at no time did Mr. Jonathan invite Mr. Babangida to a dinner let alone turning it down. It said Mr. Babangida had visited the president more than twice since the latter assumed office and that the meeting afforded the two leaders the opportunity to brainstorm on the challenges confronting the country. It added that by the report it would seem that there was bad blood between both leaders.
“The attention of General Ibrahim Babangida, GCFR, former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, has been drawn to a newspaper publication stating that the former President turned down a breakfast invitation from His Excellency, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR, President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
To state the obvious, the said report is utterly false. “Former President Ibrahim Babangida in his usual humility respects the person and office of the President of the Country, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR. “There was no time that the President requested for a breakfast meeting with General IBB, let alone turned down by the former President.
In fact, former President IBB had visited President Goodluck Jonathan more than twice since his assumption of office, meetings which afforded the two leaders the opportunity to brainstorm on the challenges confronting the Country. “It is therefore very unfair to the persons of former President General Ibrahim Babangida and President Goodluck Jonathan to be portrayed as if there was bad blood between them,” the statement said.
The statement added that “Having served this Country before and knowing the enormity of the challenges of governance, General Ibrahim Babangida will be more than willing to have unconditional breakfast meeting or any other meeting for that matter with the President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria.”
While stating that the former military president would be looking forward to an invitation from the president, the statement said Mr. Babangida asked the media to crosscheck their facts correctly before publication. It also said that Mr. Babangida, as a trained officer of the Nigeria military, was well equipped with discipline and patriotism to constituted authorities at different levels of government.
“While General IBB will be looking forward to any of such invitation now and in the near future, it is important and appropriate on the part of the media to always cross-check their facts correctly before going around town with sensational headlines at the detriment of bona fide citizens of Nigeria, especially that of the President,” the statement said.
“As a trained officer of the Nigeria military, the former President is equipped with discipline and patriotism to constituted authorities at different levels of government. Given this orientation therefore, General IBB will honour an invitation from his Ward Counselor without equivocation, let alone an invitation from the number one citizen of Nigeria. “If there was any reason to refuse any invitation, General IBB will, in his humble manner, formally inform his host or guest the reason why. The publication under reference therefore is utterly out of place and a concocted one aimed at putting the two elder statesmen in bad light.”