Former military head of state, General Ibrahim Babangida
Former military President Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, a founding member of the PDP but now retired from active politics, according to him, is the man believed to have all it takes to swing the pendulum of victory to any party he may choose to support in the 2019 elections, especially in Niger State.
Some years back when he announced his retirement, he made it clear that he would be the “father” to all politicians, irrespective of political parties, and this role he has been playing.
For the past one year, the Hill Top mansion of the former military President has been a Mecca of sorts for many politicians aspiring for political offices at state and national levels.
Of recent, immediate past President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, former VP Atiku Abubakar, some presidential aspirants of the PDP including Kabiru Tanimu Turaki, Alhaji Mohammed Makarfi and Alhaji Sule Lamido, as well as the party’s National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, have visited Babangida. A former Abia State governor, Orji Uzor Kalu, also visited the former military President in the course of his campaign for the re-election of President Buhari.
Few months ago, former President Olusegun Obasanjo also visited him.
However, from the body language of the former military President, one may conclude that he is rooting for whoever may emerge as the PDP presidential candidate or someone any alliance the party may have will produce. Babangida is believed to have influence on most politicians in Niger State and even beyond. The emergence of governors in the state and lawmakers, according to sources, has always had his blessing.
Political pundits are of the opinion that two things that will surely come to play in the 2019 presidential election in Niger remains the IBB factor and certainly the personality of the flag bearer of the PDP which must match the integrity of President Buhari.
The expectation of bloc vote for any presidential candidate in the state is completely ruled out as votes will be split between the APC and the PDP but with the APC having an edge.
For the National Assembly, the vote will surely not be based on party affiliations but personal achievements Politicians in the state have yet take to a final stand especially with the defections going on at the National Assembly.