Leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) were in Minna, the Niger State capital, Wednesday to discuss with former military president, General Ibrahim Babangida and a former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar.
The meeting with the opposition leaders raised eyebrows in the state about its agenda, prompting the two former military leaders to defend their decision to hold talks with the opposition party.
Babangida, a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in reaction to the speculations that he was being wooed to join the opposition party, said the APC leaders had the right to visit him for consultations, adding that Nigeria is greater than the ruling party.
“Nigeria is bigger than PDP. They came to talk about Nigeria and how to move the nation forward with me; it is not about anybody but about Nigeria as a country,” he said.
According to him, he will always welcome anyone seeking his advice on how to move the nation forward.
The APC delegation, which included Major-General Muhammadu Buhari, Senator Bola Tinubu and the party’s interim National Chairman, Chief Bisi Akande, first met with Babangida at his residence.
“The APC leaders visited me to discuss the welfare of the country, which should be the responsibility of every Nigerian, whether you belong to a party or you do not have a party. You have an assignment assigned to you to protect the integrity of the country.
“People who come to talk about Nigeria and the way forward will always be welcomed by me. We have to find a way forward for this generation; what we are doing is for this generation.
“The meeting had to do with the welfare, well-being, education, security and economic well-being of the country. Anything that would promote and move the country forward would be encouraged by me,” he added.
On his part, Abdulsalami, who spoke after the APC leaders had met with him, denied speculations that they had come to woo him to join the opposition party.
“I am not a politician; I am not a partisan politician and I don’t need to be wooed,” he said.
He explained that the APC leaders came to brief him on the amalgamation of the new party, what they were doing, how far they had gone, and how things were moving.
“What I told them, they have already heard. I advised them on how all of us need this country and to make sure that we maintain peace in the country,” he said.
He stressed the need for Nigerians to be allowed to exercise their rights to join any party of their choice.
Abdulsalami said: “Whether you are in the opposition or in government, in the various ways of your manifesto, you are serving the country. So whatever role any party finds itself, it should play that role very well.”
Explaining their mission to the two former military leaders, Akande said they were in the state to consult with them so that they could be better prepared in running the activities of the party.
“We need to pick the brains of former rulers in this country in order to be wiser than we were before we came here,” he said.
He added that the consultations would continue until they had met with all the wise men in the country.