By Dirisu YakubuBy Dirisu Yakubu
The gathering of loyalists of former President Olusegun Obasanjo in Abuja recently under the aegis of the CNM is believed by many as a response to the call for a coalition of patriotic Nigerians to chart a new force for the nation post 2019. A non-partisan political movement in its own admission, the body is nonetheless working collaboratively against the interest of the ruling party with the general elections barely a year away.
It is all settled that the Coalition for Nigeria Movement (CNM) which birthed a few weeks ago in Abuja is unlikely to transform into a political party before the 2019 general elections. From the get-go, the movement was clear in its mission of championing a paradigm shift in the leadership of the country, citing the dearth of positive ideological inclination of the two leading parties-The All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the singular most causative reason for emerging on the national space.
But in spite of its non-partisanship posture, there are indications that CNM is working in sync with other political parties to unseat the APC at the centre in the next general elections. The PDP, always ready to bargain in any political dealings likely to boost its chances of regaining the power it lost in 2015 is already boasting of its chances ahead of the polls, labeling its “rebranded platform, Nigeria’s best opportunity to redeem her fading glory.
Findings by this medium reveal that as part of its moves to woo members of the coalition to pitch tent with the umbrella platform, the PDP has in the past few weeks consistently reiterated its avowed commitment to restructuring if given yet another opportunity by the Nigerian electorate. Given the stand of such personalities as Obasanjo, Olagunsoye Oyinlola (CNM convener), Donald Duke, Ahmadu Ali (CNM adherents), amongst others on the imperative of restructuring, this secret alliance is therefore not the least surprising.
Only last week, the PDP in a statement jogged the collective memory of restructuring campaigners to the “fact” it started the sensitization of Nigerians on the need to tinker with the current structure, even as it questioned the sincerity of the ruling party, which it labeled a later day convert of restructuring.
“The PDP has been the author of restructuring and this was further expressed in the report of the 2014 National Conference. The APC as a later day convert of restructuring is merely paying lip service to a matter of national importance. However, we have mandated our members in the National Assembly to immediately commence the process of initiating a bill to address issues bothering on restructuring,” wrote the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan in a press statement last week.
A PDP lawmaker told this medium in confidence that the import of the party’s statement quoted above is premised on the need to sensitize genuine lovers of Nigeria on the dangers of entrusting their future to the APC beyond 2019. According to him, Obasanjo’s call for a coalition of like-minds which eventually morphed into CNM a few weeks later is an indication that the Oyinlola-led movement and the PDP can find a common ground to work together in the near future.
“I think we’ve all agreed that this government has failed on multiple fronts. Therefore, it is expected that those not comfortable with the way things are going will come together with the sole purpose of ousting this heartless government as soon as possible. As for Obasanjo, don’t forget that he was elected on the platform of our party twice to preside over the affairs of this nation and no matter his misgivings against the party today, he cannot throw the baby away with the bath water. This is why a CNM/PDP alliance is a huge possibility,” he said.
No doubt, the choice of its Presidential flag bearer will largely determine the success or otherwise of this alliance as the likes of Obasanjo and Duke had at one forum or the other in recent times aimed a veiled dig at the leadership of the country in the past two and a half years and condemned the stewardship of President Buhari. And amongst the crop of aspirants to the plum seat today, two enjoy excellent relationship with Obasanjo.
Former Jigawa State governor, Sule Lamido is a protégé of Baba and their relationship has blossomed since they both quit power in 2007. However, Obasanjo is reportedly developing cold feet on the Lamido’s Presidential project owing principally to his ongoing corruption trial by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Although, it is not clear if the presumption of innocence would be enough to elicit the former President’s support, there are subtle moves by the camp of Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo to woo the former President to back the aspiration of the Gombe State first citizen.
The two, all enjoying a good relationship with the Ogun High Chief are prominent members of the PDP on which platform they are expected to seek the mandate of the party to test their popularity amongst other sundry contenders. Thus, the emergence of any of these two in addition to carving a role for his other protégés is all Obasanjo needs to work for the defeat of the APC in 2019. But Obasanjo, we gathered, is not alone in the battle to give Nigeria a dynamic leadership. There are other statesmen who have bought into the plan to rescue Nigeria going by their words.
Towards this end, the PDP has opened its doors to all Nigerians to aspire to various elective offices of their dreams, pledging a level playing field devoid of nepotism and discrimination. By removing barricades in the ways of defectors and intending members alike, the PDP is going the whole hog to leverage on the stance of the CNM to cling its way back to power. Only a few days ago, the party demonstrated its commitment to this avowed position in this statement:
“As the name of our great party connotes, the PDP remains a people- oriented party, belonging to all Nigerians and as such will continue to accommodate and provide equal opportunity for all Nigerians to freely aspire, even for the highest position in the land, irrespective of creed, tribe or even previous party affiliation.
“With our re-engineered mechanism for credible internal democracy, the PDP has now been repositioned as the epicenter of the new broad-based political engagement, where primary elections, at all levels of aspiration, guarantee level playing field to all members, old, new and returning alike, in line with our commitment to engender a healthy democratic culture in our dear nation.
“The PDP will not in any way or under any guise whatsoever, exclude any Nigerian, but unreservedly embrace all who genuinely seek membership of our great party, especially at this critical time in our national life.
“Consequently, our party structure at all levels have been well guided not to engage in any activity that may directly or indirectly tend to exclude any Nigerian that has shown interest in returning or freshly becoming a member of our great family.”
Should this alliance sail through without hitting a major existential impediment, a former Minister in the first four years of President Olusegun Obasanjo administration (1999-2003) says the ruling APC and “By extension President Buhari” could as well bid the Presidency goodbye because “There would be no stopping the force considering the pain being felt across the length and breadth of our great country today.” After initially declining comment when asked of the imminent alliance, the former Minister changed his stand when his craving for anonymity was obliged.
“I did not believe in Buhari but I was happy that he won. The reason was that most of those who knew him said the man would practically turn the country around in six months. So, I said, why not? But today, we have seen that the man has little or no idea on how to deliver on promises he voluntarily made.
“Let me inform you that our party is open to many alliances with groups or even other political parties. We have the capacity to absorb them if they so wish. The common denominator in our collective struggle is that APC must go in 2019 and this is without prejudice to whether the President will run again or not,” he said.
Speaking exclusively to Vanguard on Thursday, constitutional lawyer, Mike Ozekhome said any form of alliance by political parties to displace the APC in 2019 will be a welcome development saying, “As far as I am concerned, any candidate, just any candidate is better than the APC candidate. Even the deaf can hear, the blind can see, the dumb can speak, the numb can feel and the lame can walk the unspeakable misery, hardship, abject penury and mass suffering the Nigerian people have been wantonly subjected to in the last two years and nine months of this directionless, clueless and compassionless government in place today. It would be worse if Nigerians make the mistake of enthroning the APC again.”
Although 2019 is not a few weeks away, the APC is apparently feeling the heat especially with the new sequence of elections recently given a nod of approval by the Senate that would see the Presidential election come last; a move being interpreted by the likes of Senator Abdullahi Adamu as a jibe to the ribs of Buhari by those bent on seeing him return to rural Daura home on May 29, 2019.