Contrary to speculations that members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) will join former the President Olusegun Obasanjo-led Coalition for Nigerian Movement (CNM), ADEBIYI ADEDAPO observes that ironically, the ranks of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is being depleted, as some of its founding members have joined the Social Democratic Party (SDP)
ust a few days after former President Olusegun Obasanjo wrote a damning letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, his proposed Coalition for Nigeria Movement was launched in Abuja.
The former president in a lengthy and critical public statement on Tuesday, January 23 suggested the formation of the movement and advised Buhari against seeking a second term in office.
Although Obasanjo was not present at the launch, two former governors elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola of Osun State and Donald Duke of Cross River State were on ground to pioneer the movement.
The former President had said in his public letter that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) were incapable of repositioning Nigeria.
Consequently, the Coalition for Nigeria Movement opened offices in the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and named the Director-General of the Goodluck Jonathan Campaign Organisation in 2015, Senator Ahmadu Ali, as the protem chairman of the coalition.
Spokesperson of the coalition, Mr. Akin Osuntokun, had hinted that the new movement would also inaugurate zonal offices in the six geo-political.
“We have done the one for Abuja already. We will subsequently launch campaigns in the 36 states of the federation,” he said.
When confronted with an observation that most members of the coalition are from the southern part of the country, Osuntokun said: “That is not correct. Ahmadu Ali is the protem chairman to begin with. Don’t forget that the coalition has just been launched and there will be more developments as time goes on.”
He, however, explained that for any organisation to survive, no matter your ambition, it has to be a blend of the old and the new adding that the coalition would be depriving itself of a source of strength if it ruled out completely the enlistment of significant political actors who have been on the stage for a while.
“Also, not all of them are tainted. There are quite a number of them that have their integrity intact. In politics, you don’t drive people away as long as they subscribe to the ideology of your organisation.”
Osuntokun, also confirmed that it was possible for the coalition to register as a political party and contest independently.
He ruled out the possibility of the coalition merging with the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) or the Peoples Democratic Party ahead of the 2019 elections, as he said both political parties had lost the confidence of Nigerians and it was unlikely that the coalition would endorse either of the two.
He, however, could not mention the names of the 13 governors said to be planning to join the coalition, as he said it wouldn’t be strategic for him to mention names.
Meanwhile, the PDP appears to be the worse casualty of the coalition, as three former ministers, believed to be foot soldiers of the former President, led an exodus of top members of the party to the SDP.
LEADERSHIP Weekend gathered that all efforts to heal the wounds of the last national convention of the party hit the brick rocks.
Former Minister Prof. Jerry Gana, former Minster of Education Prof. Tunde Adeniran and former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Elder Godsday Orubebe, reportedly moved their political machinery to the Social Democratic Party (SDP) which is merging with the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), Peoples Salvation Party (PSP) to form a formidable party ahead of next year’s elections.
LEADERSHIP also gathered that more chieftains of the PDP are expected to join them, as the Olusegun Obasanjo-inspired CNM is in talks with the SDP to work together.
The likes of Gana, Adeniran and Orubebe, all founding members of the PDP, are still displeased with what they see as the hijack of the party by Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and others during the party’s last national convention.
Adeniran was defeated in a bitter chairmanship election by Wike’s candidate, Uche Secondus.
A high powered committee headed by Governor Henry Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State to reconcile the aggrieved members could not help the situation. The aggrieved party chieftains launched into a marathon negotiation meeting with the leadership of SDP to achieve the merger.
Others likely to join Gana from the PDP include former Military Administrator of Katsina State, Sen. Joseph Akaagerger; Chief of Staff to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Chief Mike Oghiadhome, for governor of Jigawa state, Saminu Turaki, former minister of Defence, Dr. Olu Agunloye and a former Deputy Speaker of Ondo State House of Assembly, Dare Emiola.
Also teaming up with the SDP are a former member of the House of Representatives, Dr. Junaid Mohammed; Sen. Bassey Ewa Hensaw; a member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Olamide Oni; Supo Shonibare (South-West Zonal chairman of SDP), Hon. Dipo Olaitan (a former leader of the Alliance for Democracy in the House of Representatives); a former Speaker, Oyo State House of Assembly, Kehinde Ayoola; Amb. Yemi Farounbi; leaders of the Middle Belt Forum; Mr. John Dara; the leaders of the National Intervention Forum led by Dr. Tafawa Balewa; Ambassador Dare Bejide.
Meanwhile, the CNM has denied that it has adopted the Social Democratic Party (SDP) as the political platform through which to realise its aspirations.
A member of the coalition, Mr. Omoruyi Edoigiawerie, made the its position known in a statement signed on behalf of its National Steering Committee.
According to him, the coalition which he described as a group of progressives, as well as, technocrats is determined to provide Nigerians with an alternative, would not allow itself to be used for the political interests of any group in the country.
The statement reads, “The attention of the Coalition for Nigeria Movement (CNM) has been drawn to the speculation that it has endorsed the Social Democratic Party (SDP) as its political platform. It is imperative to categorically state that such insinuation is completely false. We urge all Nigerians to disregard it, as CNM is not in collaboration with SDP for any purpose.
“While we understand the yearning of Nigerians for a credible political alternative, it is imperative that such an alternative is not imposed on Nigerians, but that it is instead a product of our collective decision and aspiration. At this time as a Nation, we are not in doubt as to the myriad issues that affect us and the need to resolve them.
“However, if we are to surmount avoidable challenges, then there is a need to ensure that the issues that have brought us to where we are as a Nation are adequately captured and a strategic and concise plan mapped out to give every Nigerian, irrespective of tribal or religious leanings, a sense of belonging as we work to help Nigeria take its rightful place among the comity of nations.
“To achieve this, we cannot afford to leave any Nigerian behind, particularly our women and youth.
“The Coalition for Nigeria Movement has since its inception provided a strong platform for Nigerians to converge, voice their frustrations and challenges, and collectively chart our direction as a nation. This is an ongoing process and we will not be hounded into making divisive and ill informed decisions to satisfy people who have directly or indirectly contributed to our national malaise and decline.
“At the right time, which will be very soon, the movement as a team will make an announcement on its strategic plan that will leave no Nigerian in doubt of where we stand, and most importantly, the plan will be one that will not leave any Nigerian without hope of a viable future in a safe and prosperous Nigeria.”
Despite the denial, the National Secretary of the SDP interim executive, Shehu Gabam insisted, that the new alliance was the real coalition.
Gabam who was a chieftain of the PDP and campaign director of the Prof Tunde Adeniran Campaign Organisation in the party’s chairmanship race at its last national convention, said national leaders of the country were all consulted ahead of the merger.
According to Gabam, shortly after the last convention of the PDP, stakeholders in the country were consulted to canvass for prompt rescue for Nigeria’s political system.
“Immediately the convention went the way it did, we started consultations. We have been going round the country consulting people. We consulted virtually all those that matter on the situation of the party and the country.
“We needed something urgent to rescue the system. We did more than sufficient consultation. At the last lap of our consultations, Obasanjo came up with his letter. We didn’t know its origin or what convinced him to come up with that letter. Thereafter, Babangida came up with his own letter. So by people’s thinking and in trying to compare scenarios, they assumed that we are driven by them. But we started our consultations before the letters.
“But when you are doing something good for the country, you can see that ideas are fusing and the space is being narrowed because, once it is in the interest of the country everybody will key in. You cannot question the sense of nationalism of former Presidents Obasanjo and Babangida and all others down the line. So anybody who shares similar believe that the country needs to be rescued will join this system,” Gabam stated.