Kassim Afegbua, media aide to Ibrahim Babaginda, former military Head of State, has defended his initial statement in which Babangida urged President Muhammadu Buhari not to allow his personal ambition override the national interest.
Afegbua said this during Channel Television’s Sunday Politics, stressing that he got Babangida’s “authorisation and commitment” before releasing the statement.
“I have been doing this job for about 14 years now. And I have never issued a statement on behalf of the former head of state and he gave a rebuttal,” Afegbua said.
“I got authorisation and commitment from him before I issued the statement. It has been in process. He has called me to say that the statement still stands.”
Soon after the first press statement was published, Babangida released another statement he personally signed, saying he had “unfettered access” to Buhari and had no reason to resort to “sensational public correspondence”.
“Let me categorically state that as former President and Statesman, I have unfettered channel of communication with the highest authorities without sensational public correspondence, therefore those views expressed over there are personal views of the writer,” the statement read.
But Afegbua maintained that the statement he issued was crosschecked and approved by Babangida.
“Of course, you know IBB is for everyone. People want to love him more than he loves himself. People want to appreciate him more than he appreciates himself. People want to play the role of IBB,” he said.
“So when the statement was released, some of his friends saw it and they felt we were trying to put the former president on a collision course with the president. So, they went and did a statement to deny that.
“But I have since spoken to him; he called me and said, that statement stands. The kernel of that statement should inform public discourse and not necessarily people personalising it as if it were to be against the sitting president.
“So, the statement stands and I have since communicated to all the media houses that they should respect that statement as coming from IBB. It did not emanate from my head. We sat down, we discussed and articulated them.”
Afegbua further clarified that Babangida’s statement was not a personal attack on the person of Buhari.
“He is not personalizing his statement against the incumbent president. But he is saying, as a stakeholder and a concerned Nigerian, that he shares in the aspirations of the people.”