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OBJ, ADC And The Third Force Burden



CHIBUZO UKAIBE writes on the interesting selection of African Democratic Congress (ADC) by the former President Olusegun Obasanjo-backed coalition movement as party of choice to lead the much anticipated third force.

Perhaps, the tempo that fired up the third force movement spearheaded by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, has waned, somewhat. Increasingly, it would seem like the prospects of the political force is in anti-climax mode.

Obasanjo had declared that immediately his movement, Coalition Movement of Nigeria (CMN), morphs or fuses into a political party, he would cease to be a member; he is bent on maintaining his non-partisan political adviser stance.

The former president had repeatedly passed a damning verdict on his former party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) under which he served as president for eight years, and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) which he supported in 2015.

However, the choice of African Democratic Congress (ADC) for the CMN was as shocking as it was instructive. This is more so because the coalition movement had been enjoying a political romance with the Social Democratic Party (SDP). Analysts had already started touting SDP as the much awaited third force that would alter the dominance of APC and PDP in the political sphere. With some of Obasanjo’s loyalists in the mould of former ministers, Profs Jerry Gana and Tunde Adeniran, abandoning the PDP, there was little doubt that the SDP, their new party, was the destination of choice for the coalition.

A meeting between Obasanjo and the national chairman of SDP, Chief Olu Falae, who in 1999, contested the presidency against the former, had fired up the fusion prospects. But the political deal didn’t follow through because, as a source put it, “they couldn’t agree on modalities and strategies for the 2019 general elections.”

While the national publicity secretary of SDP (at the time), Alfa Mohammed, admitted not having details of the meeting, he was quoted thus: “our position is that even if this group fuses into any other political party, hope is not lost that we may still work together when the time comes. Everyone will still come together under the umbrella of the leading opposition party in Nigeria, which is the SDP.”

Before now, and as far as party ranking go, ADC was rated far below top notch parties in the political spectrum, hanging on as one of those parties that seem to make up the numbers.

Unlike the SDP, which resonates with many old to middle-age electorates on account of the June 12 1993 struggle and national acceptability at the time, the ADC registered in 2006, was only able to garner 50,000 votes in the 2007 presidential election. While many believe it was too soon for the party to have made much impact then, the party has neither done significantly better in subsequent presidential polls nor win a governorship seat since it’s emergence. The party, according to its founder and national chairman, Ralph Nwosu, has only one elected officeholder in the Bayelsa State House of Assembly.

But the coalition after scouting through the political plane settled for ADC.

Co-Convener of CNM, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, who made the pronouncement at a world press conference in Abuja, said the decision to move into ADC is an appreciation of the progressive essence of the party and its untainted existence on the terrain of our nation’s politics.

The former military administrator of Lagos state, who regretted the worsening state of things in the country, added, “the decision to move into African Democratic Congress therefore, is an appreciation of the progressive essence of the party and its untainted existence on the terrain of our nation’s politics.

“While I on behalf of the leadership and the over three million members of the CNM congratulate ADC as the vehicle for national reinvention, I urge us to let us know that the task ahead is an arduous one that needs further strengthening of the forces of change. What I am saying is that we should be open to new engagements and alliances being forged and crystallizing across the country.”

Oyinlola, a former governor of Osun State further, derided the current administration, added that “ADC is properly placed to join other patriots in moving Nigerians in all the wards, the 774 local governments and the 36 states to join hands to make our country truly great.”

“The destiny of Nigeria is not to remain forever in crisis and in the doldrums. As the CNM takes this momentous step of coalescing into ADC as a vital step in building a national consensus to reconstruct the country, we assure all Nigerians with their support.

“And the understanding of likeminded persons and organizations across the country, Nigeria will be rescued. God willing the elections of 2018 and 2019 will be used to cure the curse and afflictions of failed leadership and perpetual underdevelopment.”

In his remarks, the founding National Chairman of ADC, Chief Ralphs Nwosu described the fusion as the dawn of great Nigeria project; Leading with the right ethical Compass.

Nwosu assured that ADC working with CMN and many strategic coalition partners, involving a Rainbow coalition of Political parties, civil societies, labor and trade unions, and well-meaning eminent Nigerians are determined to reframe the narratives about Nigeria.

“We have worked tirelessly to put this coalition together. Many important stakeholders helped to guide our party. I wish to specially mention President Olusegun Obasanjo for his tireless support. His word “I am not perfect, but I enjoin you to join me in having deep passion and unshakable commitment for Nigeria.

“This will guide this new ADC always. The formal launch of our new ADC party will take place so. I wish to enjoin all of us to embrace our philosophy of role modelling leadership as a way to building the new Nigeria and a greater Africa.

“In everything we do, to be successful, we must remain true to ourselves. Deep reflection helps leaders to clear their heads, clarify their path to be able to focus purposefully, for each party involved; we expect true and committed engagement to Nigeria,” he said.

Already, the fusion is sparking upset within the ADC ahead of the Ekiti State governorship election. While the party has declared its withdrawal from the contest to enable it build its presence in light of its new status, Ayodele Adesua, who had emerged candidate, is insisting that he won’t relinquish his mandate. Adesua, in a statement accused Oyinlola of attempting to impose his friend Dare Bejide, a former diplomat, as the candidate of the party.

As the party prepares to make its formal launch, evolving events seem to portray it as a platform for negotiating a stake in the larger coalition movement. Some analysts are already positing that the ADC is more like a transit platform for the CMN elements.

With the major opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), having began to lead the charge for a broad base coalition ahead of 2019, it remains hazy whether the ADC will lead the third force as is projected.

As it stands, PDP, ADC alongside the SDP have already entered talks with other coalition and interest groups in their drive to forge the mega opposition platform.

But the spotlight will remain on Obasanjo nonetheless. Having withdrawn from the coalition movement as he promised, and having ruled out his former party as not being an option ahead of 2019, with the movement now romancing with the PDP, the next step of the former president will be very instructive.



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