By Tobi Soniyi
Lagos — The group founded by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, the Coalition for Nigerian Movement (CNM), has fused with the African Democratic Congress (ADC).
The merger was announced in Abuja Thursday by the co-convener of the CNM, Mr. Olagunsoye Oyinlola, signposting his departure from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
Oyinlola, a former governor of Osun State and one of the signatories of the New PDP’s (NPDP) petition to the leadership of the APC, complaining of alleged maltreatment of its members, has also resigned his appointment as the chairman of National Identity Management Commission (NIMC).
He said the CNM was also ready to work with other political parties and groups to end APC’s reign and forge a new direction for Nigeria.
Elaborating on the decision of the CNM to merge with the ADC, he said: “The decision to move in to African Democratic Congress is in appreciation of the progressive essence of the party and its untainted existence on the terrain of our nation’s politics.
“While I on behalf of the leadership and the over three million members of the CNM congratulate ADC as the vehicle for national reinvention, I urge us to let us know that the task ahead is an arduous one that needs further strengthening of the forces of change.
“What I am saying is that we should be open to new engagements and alliances being forged and crystallising across the country.”
Oyinlola added that the movement was committed to the use of the tools of democracy to recreate a Nigeria that would truly serve all, irrespective of religion, tribe or socio-economic status.
According to him, with the merger, the CNM had ceased to exist, having been formally collapsed into the ADC.
Continuing, he said: “This is just the first in a multi layered action plan to give back the country to its much deprived people.
“As we stated in January during the launch of the CNM, we are taking on this task not minding the inconveniences and other expected and unexpected consequences of our efforts at reinventing the country.”
Olagunsoye said the decision to collapse the movement into the ADC was informed by the need to form a formidable force to wrest power from the ruling APC during the 2019 polls.
He explained that the understanding of like-minded persons and organisations across the country was required to rescue the country from the APC.
He was optimistic that the governorship elections of 2018 and the general election of 2019 would be used to cure the curse and afflictions of failed leadership and perpetual underdevelopment in the country.
According to him, “We have said it before and we are stating it here again that the current state of despair and despondency in our dear country is an ill wind.
“It is a foreboding and can only lead to a conflagration. Between January when CNM was formed and now, can we say that the story of Nigeria has changed for the better? Have things not worsened at all levels?
“You will all recall that in January this year, the Coalition for Nigeria Movement was formed by some of us across the country as a political platform to create a new generation of leaders for our country.
“Between that time and today, a lot of grounds have been covered in achieving the set goals. One of such is what we are doing here today – the formal fusing of – our movement into the African Democratic Congress.
“Beyond what we are doing here today, we put our countrymen and women, old and young, on notice that they should expect more from us; that they should expect deepened political engagements across platforms in the coming days and weeks.
”We admit that structural inadequacies and failure of leadership have robbed our country of greatness. We also note that a future of greatness for Nigeria will only be birthed by a new generation of youthful leaders with fresh ideas and knowledge of what it takes to govern a 21st century nation.
“This gathering here today is proof that the modest efforts at waking up the vast majority of our people to, for once, take their destiny in their hands as demanded by the Constitution are bearing fruits already. Our Constitution guarantees all Nigerians their fundamental human rights, including freedom of association and the right to hold political views.”
He reiterated Obasanjo’s position that the current state of despair and despondency in the country was an ill wind that would not blow any good.
He said: “It is a foreboding and can only lead to a conflagration. Indeed, every one of us who has been in power before at whatever level may have a share of the blame for the state of the nation. That fact, however, will not disqualify us from being part of, and indeed, stand at the vanguard of finding a lasting solution to this problem.
“Indeed, those who have seen it all but with the right perspective are better placed to bring in knowledgeable young men and women to come and reinvent the country for the challenges of the future.
“ADC and other like-minded political parties should join other patriots in democratically building and enthroning a new set of youthful, knowledgeable and goal-oriented leadership for this country.
“We believe, therefore, that through the right engagements and fundamental reordering of the affairs of our nation, our country will be out of the woods.
“Nigerians are a very resilient people. They are great optimists. They have invested so much trust and hope in our democratic infrastructure with very miserable returns so far.
“As I stated during the launch of the CNM, our country must not continue to be condemned to a four yearly ritual of voting without results.
“To get positive results, therefore, we must get right the choice of leadership. But the apple does not fall far from its tree. Only credible, positive platforms can produce positive results.
“A tree conceived and nurtured on lies, can only bear imaginary fruits. Every government has ideas and programmes – most times packaged in flowery prose.
“The deficit in leadership is noticed at the point of implementation of the ideas and policies. The ADC from its well-enunciated policies and programmes is well placed to make democracy work for the people.
“ADC is properly placed to join other patriots in moving Nigerians in all the wards, the 774 local governments and the 36 states to join hands to make our country truly great. Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, we have a job to do.
“The destiny of Nigeria is not to remain forever in crises and in the doldrums. As the CNM takes this momentous step of coalescing into ADC as a vital step in building a national consensus to reconstruct the country, we assure all Nigerians with their support. And with the understanding of like-minded persons and organisations across the country, Nigeria will be rescued.
“God willing, the elections of 2018 and 2019 will be used to cure the curse and afflictions of failed leadership and perpetual underdevelopment.”
In his remarks, the national chairman of ADC, Chief Ralph Nwosu, described the fusion as the dawn of a great Nigeria project leading with the right ethical compass.
Nwosu noted that nation building could be a very daunting exercise, but added that with good and committed leaders, the journey could be much easier.
“I invite all Nigerians to have a very deep reflection concerning our nation, Nigeria, and its 100 years of nationhood,” he said.
He stated that Nigeria, with a 200 million population was in a dysfunctional state.
“However, I do not want to dwell on our failings. I want to assure you all that we the African Democratic Congress (ADC) working with CNM, and many strategic coalition partners, involving a rainbow coalition of political parties, civil societies, labour and trade unions, and well-meaning eminent Nigerians, are determined to reframe the narrative about Nigeria.
“We have worked tirelessly to put this coalition together. Many important stakeholders helped to guide our party. I wish to specially mention President Olusegun Obasanjo for his tireless support. His word: ‘I am not perfect, but I enjoin you to join me in having a deep passion and unshakable commitment for Nigeria.’
“This will guide this new ADC always. The formal launch of our new ADC party will take place, so I wish to enjoin all of us to embrace our philosophy of role modelling leadership as a way to building the new Nigeria and a greater Africa.
“In everything we do, to be successful, we must remain true to ourselves. Deep reflection helps leaders to clear their heads, clarify their path to be able to focus purposefully for each party involved; we expect true and committed engagement to the Nigeria project,” he said.
When he announced the formation of the CNM, Obasanjo last January had said he would withdraw from it once it merged or become a political party.
There was no statement from the former president Thursday on whether he would withdraw from the CNM following the coalition with ADC.
Meanwhile, Oyinlola, in a letter addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari, resigned his appointment as chairman of NIMC to attend to greater political engagement.
The letter dated May 9 said: “Sir, I write to resign my appointment as the chairman of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) with effect from today, 9th May, 2018.
“Your Excellency, I must put on record my very deep sense of appreciation for the special privilege and consideration you gave me to serve our fatherland in that capacity.
“As I stated in my appreciation letter to you shortly after the appointment, the offer was a clear call to service.
“I gave the job the dedication it deserved and would have loved to continue but I regret to inform Your Excellency that I have a new, greater political engagement that will make that difficult and even impolitic.
“Sir, as one of my bosses in the army, I believe you would understand my stand given recent political developments.
“The training I got as a decorated officer and gentleman precludes me from engaging in any act that could amount to disloyalty and conflict of interest.
“I am moving on to chart a new course in my politics outside the ruling party and this thus demands my dropping the NIMC chairmanship.
“I thank you, sir, once again for the great honour and confidence reposed in me.
“However, there is time to take a job and another time to leave it and move on.
“For me, the time to work on something else in the interest and service of our people is now.
“I wish Your Excellency good luck while praying that you will finish well and strong in the service of our country.”
Buhari appointed Oyinlola NIMC chairman in September 2017.