What manner of ‘movement’ is being launched today in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT)? Can the coalition fly? What are its prospects? Can it overtake the discredited Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and abort the dream of the crisis-ridden All Progressives Congress (APC) to retain federal power in next year’s elections?
In the opinion of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, the Muhammadu Buhari administration has failed. President Buhari, he advised, should not seek re-election next year. Also, both the APC and the PDP should not produce his successor. His reason: the two parties have outlived their usefulness.
Obasanjo’s remedy is that only a coalition of ‘willing’ Nigerians can salvage the country in 2019. As his associates throw up the ‘Third Force,’ can the new group make a difference? Will it change geo-political calculations? Does the so-called ‘Coalition for Nigeria (CN) offer hope?
Indisputably, Dr. Obasanjo may have done a scanty spade work before unfolding his agenda. Thus, the movement is springing up in a hurry, barely a week after he released his highly inflammable “special statement.” Unlike the PDP, which metamorphosed into a virile party from the G-34, and the APC, which came into existence after critical deliberations and agreement involving the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), and sections of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) and PDP), the CN emerged from Obasanjo’s bedroom.
Observers believe that the new political group may be facing a gloomy future. At birth, it is jaundiced. Nigerians were taking aback by its composition. It is the same of the same. There is no line of demarcation. There is no fresh blood. It is still the old wine in a new bottle. In the final analysis, only aggrieved acolytes of the former leader are involved in the new show. Thus, public enthusiasm is waning.
He who comes to the equity must come with clean hands. The key leaders of the CN are politicians who were associated with PDP’s 16 years of failure. These men of yesteryear shared in the blame for the impunity that had characterised governance. The spent forces, rejected party functionaries and disgruntled PDP stalwarts are seeking relevance. But, Nigerians are not assailed by collective amnesia. Since the motivation is from Obasanjo, many credible Nigerians may distance themselves from the enterprise because of the former president’s perceived history of personal agenda and self-interest decorated in the garb of public yearning and aspiration.
Do the arrowheads parade intimidating credentials of honour and integrity? What ideology is driving them? The proxy leader is a beneficiary of election rigging, who was kicked out by the temple of justice for vote stealing. He will be working in tandem with a vocal scholar and an expert in prevarication from the Northcentral, a former governor from the Southeast struggling to bounce back into reckoning on the false platform and another ex-governor from the Northwest, who is standing trial for corruption.
The implication is that, although Obasanjo has used his stature to swing public opinion against the Buhari administration at a time Nigerians are protesting the mishandling of farmers/herdsmen clashes in Benue and some other states, his message may not be swallowed hook, line and sinker as no credible alternative platform is being offered to compete for power with the two main parties.
Since the CN is made up of PDP leaders, what can they offer that the PDP has not offered? Are CN members the messiahs Nigerians are expecting? How popular are they in their states? Can Dr.Obasanjo successfully mobilise the people of his ward in Abeokuta during elections? Who will listen to the new foot soldiers? Can the coalition become a formidable party? Can it even meet the criteria for registration by the electoral commission before next year’s polls?
If Nigerians feel that the third force may not lead them to the promised land, they may start to have a rethink. In fact, many critical minds are re-dissecting Obasanjo’s statement. Although the Benue killings left a sour taste in the mouth, the government has not completely failed the nation in the area of security. The recent killing of troublers of peace in the Southsouth, including ‘Gen.’ Don Wanny, meant that a lip service is not paid to security. Besides, Boko Haram is being pummeled.
Also, many now realise that Obasanjo’s comment on the economy is not totally true. While it is true that Nigerians are complaining about hardship, it is not because the government is closing its eyes. Experts have pointed out that a significant leap has been recorded in the government’s bid to revatalise the economy. The nation’s foreign reserve is increasing. The forex regime is attracting investors. Electricity is becoming stable. Efforts are on to revatalise the railways. More importantly, there is prospect of food security. The Buhari administration’s achievement in agriculture cannot be ignored. Today, rice importation is becoming a thing of the past.
Will Nigerians close their eyes to these achievements and prospects and risk their future in the hands of an inexplicable coalition teleguided by Obasanjo?