MUYIWA OYINLOLA in this piece examines some of the challenges facing the proposed ‘Coalition for Nigeria’ which former President Olusegun Obasanjo recently proposed would salvage the nation polity.
The either to numbing political atmosphere in the country has suddenly come alive since former President Olusegun Obasanjo in a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari last month, stated that both the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) and the leading opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are not fit to continue to produce leaders for the country.
But that is not all, the former president, in the letter also called on President Muhammadu Buhari not to present himself for re-election in the next general elections, even as he provided an alternative to the two leading parties when he proposed ‘Coalition for Nigeria’, a new political movement which he believes would salvage the country and take it to the promise land.
Such a movement, according to Obasanjo who once governed the country on the platform of the PDP for eight years before he renounced his membership towards the 2015 general elections, ‘needs not be a political party but one to which all well-meaning Nigerians can belong.’
He thereby stressed that “That movement must be a coalition for democracy, good governance, social and economic well-being and progress”
Although both the PDP and the governing APC which he helped bring on board after parting way with the former, have absolved themselves of every allegation leveled against them and declared their readiness to continue to lead the country, a number of political parties and individuals have said Obasanjo’s condemnation of the duo was in order.
Consequently, about 30 opposition political parties have declared that they have seen reason with the ex-president’s call and have agreed to join hands to form a Coalition for a New Nigeria (CNN).
They include: National Conscience Party (NCP), Africa Democratic Congress (ADC), Peoples Progressive Alliance (PPA), Democratic People’s Congress (DPC), Labour Party (LP), People’s Party of Nigeria (PPN) and Action Alliance (AA).
Others are: Alliance for Democracy (AD), Democratic People’s Party (DPP), People’s Democratic Change (PDC), and Better Nigeria People’s Party (BNPP), National Action Council (NAC), United Democratic Party (UDP) and Democratic Alternative (DA), among others
However, penultimate Wednesday in Abuja, some politicians who either to have not been so visible met to launch a new political group called ‘Coalition for Nigeria Movement (CNM)’. This Development is being seen as given a vent to Obasanjo’s call.
Some of the personalities at the historical event included former Osun State Governor, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola; former Cross River State Governor, Donald Duke and an APC member who followed President Buhari from the defunct Congress for Progressives Change (CPC), to the now governing APC, Buba Galadima.
While speaking on the essence of the occasion, Oyinlola said the coalition was formed to salvage the nation from bad governance.
He stressed that the cardinal objective of the coalition included the promotion of equity and equality of opportunity for all our compatriots in order to have a truly just and united Nigeria.
He hinged that the new political group would give priority to youths and women, stating that: “In more specific terms, we invite our youths and women to use the window provided by this movement to take their deserved place in the leadership of our dear country.
“Women and the youths are a very vital but vulnerable segment of the population that need special attention. Women in the formal sector need further encouragement while those in the informal sector deserve enhanced assistance to realise their potential.”
While speaking further, he added that the movement would not belong to a money bag somewhere. “That is the only way it will not end up just like the problems it has set out to solve”.
“Our people must not be condemned to a four yearly ritual of voting without results and we cannot get positive results unless we get the choice of leadership we want.
“This is why we are using this opportunity to call on all Nigerians in all the wards, the 774 local governments, the 36 states and the FCT to join hands with us to make this happen for our country this time around.
“Enough of trial and error in leadership, enough of a Nigeria where injustice reigns for the poor and their children, enough of running a dysfunctional Nigeria system that robs Peter to pay Paul, and I say enough of a Nigeria where the hard worker comes out as a common fool.”
While debunking the allegation that the Coalition was out to give credence to Obasanjo’s campaign for a new political movement, Oyinlola disclosed that: “The aims and objectives of the coalition make it mandatory for us to hit the ground running, as time is not on our side. And if we are going to give effect to our aims and objectives then we must make sure that our presence is felt in all the remote parts of the country.”
Also speaking on the occasion, Duke disclosed that the movement was out for a timely rescue of the country from imminent collapse.
His words: “Perhaps this endeavor is timely, the name coalition cannot do it all, we need to bring ourselves together if we are gong to make this work.
“More importantly, we have the dire consequences of now for our nation, where we are today. If we tarry for another three or four years, the disaster will be worse, it is not going to get better except we all come together to change the narrative, to change where we are going,” he said.
Speaking in the same vein, Galadima stated that: “Our aim is to salvage our country from disintegration.”
There are however indications that the new movement may not fly as Obasanjo’s motive has been condemned by some notable politicians and individuals.
For instance, a former Minister for Environment under Obasanjo’s administration, Dr. Iyiorcha Ayu, has said that the former President was not in the right position to condemn the spate of things in that country. According to him “President Obasanjo is the architect of our current Nigeria’s problems. He had a great opportunity to set in motion correct policies including the issue of the green belt in the North, border control. I was also minister of Internal Affairs, I know how much pressure I put on him to improve the border question in Nigeria.”
“President Obasanjo was not interested in these policies. He is somebody who is very opportunistic, a man who wants to always be on the correct side of history. President Obasanjo never planned to exit power, he wanted to continue in office. He talked to me three times to support him but I refused. He comes out and tells lies, he tells people that he is the solution to Nigeria’s problems.”
In the same vein, former Minister of Information and Culture, Chief John Nwodo, said that: “The failure of Jonathan is the failure of General Obasanjo because succession is important in leadership. If you create a weak succession that cannot even carry on whatever policy you have put in place you have failed.”
He further stated that: “The proposal by Gen. Obasanjo about a coalition is a subversion of democracy. The coalition he is calling for is undemocratic. It is virtually another military dictatorship Nigerians will not accept. We don’t need coalition. We need elections, we need political parties to come out and throw up competent candidates that can run this country.”
Considering the weight of allegations that Obasanjo was part of those who created the current state of affairs he has now come out to condemn, there are indications that his lieutenants in his new found campaign would go an extra mile to convince Nigerians to buy into their idea.
Recall also that both Oyinlola and Duke governed their various states under the umbrella of the PDP they have both come out to condemn.