Hundreds of people, yesterday, trooped to the Yar Adua Centre in Abuja, for the official launch of what was supposed to be former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s ‘Coalition for Nigeria Movement’, known also as the Third Force.
Obasanjo, in a letter highly critical of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government, a week ago, had asked: “If neither the All Progressives Congress (APC) nor the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is a worthy horse to ride to lead Nigeria at this crucial and critical time, what then do we do?”
He then went on to call for the establishment of the group, saying: “We need a Coalition for Nigeria. Such a Movement at this juncture needs not be a political party but one to which all well-meaning Nigerians can belong. That Movement must be a coalition for democracy, good governance, social and economic wellbeing and progress; a coalition to salvage and redeem our country.”
The former leader, however, was conspicuously absent from yesterday’s event, even though in his letter he had stated: “You can count on me with such a Movement…I will gladly join such a Movement when one is established as Coalition for Nigeria, taking Nigeria to the height God has created it to be.”
In attendance were APC Board of Trustees member, Buba Galadima, former governor of Osun State and Chairman, Board of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Olagunsoye Oyinlola, former PDP National Chairman, Amodu Ali, former governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke, and supporters of former Kano State governor, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, currently the senator representing Kano Central, among others.
Kwankwaso emerged second after Buhari during the party’s 2015 primaries in Lagos.
The convener, Oyinlola, an ally of Obasanjo, said the movement for now “is not a political party” but stressed it could metamorphose into one soon.
“To say that we are legitimising Obasanjo’s legacy is wrong. I think what he has done is stir us from slumber. Nobody can fault Obasanjo’s letter. We are not a political party for now. Our aim is to help Nigerians take the country from those who run it as business. It is not the destiny of Nigeria to remain in crisis and in doldrums,” he said.
Oyinlola noted that if Nigeria must be rescued from its present crop of leaders, there was the need for synergy between all groups.
He called for commitment from all Nigerians and assured that youths would be at the forefront of the initiative. “There is no other assurance for this movement other than your commitment. Don’t say we are going to carry you along. No, you are the ones (youth) who will carry us along,” he said.
Asked whether he was ready to quit the Buhari government and dedicate time to the movement, Oyinlola said: “I am not tied down to a political party. This is a part-time commission, which means I have only four meetings in a year. But get it straight, I joined a political party to serve my country and my service in NIMC is to my country and countrymen.
“If being chairman will rob me of my desire to see this movement to its greatest height, then the chairmanship will yield. The style of convening this movement is noble and it is quite different from any other we have had in this country.”
Duke, a co-convener, stated that the movement had received overwhelming support.
He said: “Forget about the story that we are the largest economy in Africa. It is an imagination of numbers. There are so many people in Nigeria and even if we are doing nothing, it will still be the largest economy. But in terms of productivity, we are nowhere…it practically explains where we are and what we have to do; the need to work as a coalition and change our nation.”
Galadima, who was Kwankwaso’s campaign head in the buildup to the 2015 APC primaries, declared support for the coalition, saying it did not violate his membership of the APC. “It is not a political party; it is a movement being put together to salvage our country from the verge of disintegration,” he said.
Meanwhile, an elder statesman and renowned constitutional lawyer, Prof. Nwabueze, yesterday, called for a change of leadership in the nation.
In a letter entitled: ‘Nigeria Under President Buhari Is Categorised As A Failed State By An Internationally Recognised Agency’, he said: “Buhari must be stopped before he pushes Nigeria further down the rank of the worst failed states to which Zaire, under Mobutu, had been reduced.”
He added: “God forbid that he (Buhari) should ever get a second term. Or Nigeria will cease to exist, except in the sense in which Zaire, under Mobutu, existed. That is as an idea without an existential content; a state existing only in name or on the map as a mere geographical expression.”