- 30 parties agree to form CNN
Onyebuchi Ezigbo and Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
A new political group, Coalition for Nigeria Movement (CNM), has emerged to give vent to former President Olusegun Obasanjoâ€™s charge on the formation of a third force that will help chart the way forward for the country and challenge the dominance of the two major parties in Nigeria â€“ the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
CNM was formally unveiled in Abuja Wednesday at the Shehu Musa Yarâ€™Adua Centre by politicians across the political divide.
The unveiling of the Obasanjo-inspired third force, came just as some opposition parties, numbering 30 in total, agreed to join hands to form a Coalition for a New Nigeria (CNN) and called on Nigerians to unite and vote out President Muhammadu Buhari and the APC government in 2019.
Speaking at the launch of the CNM, a former governor of Osun State and acting chairman of the coalition, Mr. Olagunsoye Oyinlola, said the coalition was a movement whose mandate is to salvage Nigeria from bad governance.
He noted that very few countries were as well endowed as Nigeria, but lamented that structural inadequacies and the failure of leadership had robbed the country of greatness.
Based on this, he said people of like-minds decided to come together and make the modest effort of waking up the vast majority of the Nigerian people towards taking their destinies in their hands as demanded by the constitution.
He stressed that the movement was borne out of the need to use the tools of democracy to recreate a Nigerian state that will truly serve all, irrespective of religion, tribe or socio-economic status.
He also explained that the movement had come into being to promote the welfare of all citizens of a united Nigeria, guided by justice and fairness, adding that in carrying out this task, the movement was taking into consideration the various calls for equity in political and social relationships across the various segments of the country.
â€œThis movement thereby has it as its cardinal objective, the promotion of equity and equality of opportunity for all our compatriots in order to have a truly just and united Nigeria.
â€œIn more specific terms, we invite our youths and women to use the window provided by this movement to take their deserved place in the leadership of our dear country.
â€œWomen and the youths are a very vital but vulnerable segment of the population that need special attention. Women in the formal sector need further encouragement while those in the informal sector deserve enhanced assistance to realise their potential.
â€œWhile ensuring that special attention will be given to these two critical groups, we also make a commitment to galvanise efforts to address the current, deliberate official action that marginalises them in the scheme of things.
â€œYou will agree with me that there cannot be leadership where there is no justice. The tension and security challenges this nation faces today are direct products of the lack of social and economic justice.
â€œMarket men and women are the hardest hit by the self-inflicted economic challenges that we are grappling with.
â€œYouth unemployment has hit the roof; every year we produce millions of graduates who soon realise that the country has no place for them. The devil always finds one horrible job for the idle hands.
â€œThe ones among our youths who manage to have jobs are not guaranteed their salary at the end of the month and this is not restricted to government work.
â€œCompanies in the private sector are facing very difficult times with very great effect on the employees and on their capacity to absorb fresh young hands.
â€œEvery sensible person must note that there is trouble ahead unless something urgent is done. In the absence of credible social security programmes, the vulnerable among us have resorted to desperate action such as getting sold into slavery in Europe in the 21st century.
â€œWe think it is a shame if we all fail to use the power of democracy to fight and defeat this evil.
â€œYou will agree with me that time is fast running out for us unless everyone is engaged in the rescue effort. The present state of despair and despondency can only lead to conflagration.
Unfortunately, there does not seem to be any well thought out programme of action at the government level,â€ he said.
Oyinlola stressed that everyone who had been in power before at whatever level has a share of the blame, but said that should not disqualify such persons from being a part of the movement and â€œindeed stand at the vanguard of finding a lasting solution to the problemsâ€.
On the structure of the movement, he explained that the movement would have offices and elected officers in every ward, local government, every state and in the FCT, saying that membership of the movement was open to all Nigerians of voting age.
Continuing Oyinlola stated: â€œIt is our belief that this movement must not end up becoming another platform for the abuse of values of honesty and moderation.
â€œTherefore, it has be agreed by those of us steering it at this formative stage, the money to run its affairs will come from the contributions of members at every level.
â€œThe movement must not belong to a money bag somewhere. That is the only way it will not end up just like the problems it has set out to solve.
â€œOur people must not be condemned to a four yearly ritual of voting without results and we cannot get positive results unless we get the choice of leadership we want.
â€œThis is why we are using this opportunity to call on all Nigerians in all the wards, the 774 local governments, the 36 states and the FCT to join hands with us to make this happen for our country this time around.
â€œEnough of trial and error in leadership, enough of a Nigeria where injustice reigns for the poor and their children, enough of running a dysfunctional Nigeria system that robs Peter to pay Paul, and I say enough of a Nigeria where the hard worker comes out as a common fool.â€
Oyinlola, who was also once the national secretary of the PDP before defecting to the APC, said the country was drifting into extinction until Obasanjo woke everyone from slumber.
He said the movement came into being in response to Obasanjoâ€™s call for the emergence of a third force to help rescue the country from bad governance.
According to him, the movement was going to provide an equal platform for everyone, especially women and youths, and will be led by youths while the elders will only play the role of guides.
He debunked speculations that the movement was a backdoor ploy by Obasanjo to continue to remain relevant in the political life of the country, adding that only Obasanjo could muster the courage to write such statement to President Muhammadu Buhari, which has not been controverted.
Obasanjo last week had issued a 13-page statement in which he had advised Buhari not to seek re-election in 2019.
He had also accused the president of nepotism and lacking the capacity to lead Nigeria in the 21st century.
â€œTo say that we are legitimising OBJâ€™s legacy is a bit off the mark. There is no one who can fault the issues raised in Obasanjoâ€™s letter. Forget the messenger, letâ€™s discuss the message.
â€œWhat he has done is to stir us from our slumber to the reality of what is happening in Nigeria to take charge and take action. Are there no other leaders sitting around and watching how things are going?
â€œI think we should give some kudos to him for being able to address Nigerians on the ills of the society which require attention,â€ Oyinlola stated.
He said the CNM remained a movement and not a political party, unless members agree to transform it into a party.
The former governor said he was willing to give up his chairmanship on the board of National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) to ensure that CNM becomes a success story.
On the allegation that the movement was carrying out Obasanjoâ€™s agenda to install a new leadership for the country, he said: â€œThe aims and objectives of the coalition make it mandatory for us to hit the ground running, as time is not on our side. And if we are going to give effect to our aims and objectives then we must make sure that our presence is felt in all the remote parts of the country.â€
Oyinlola said Wednesdayâ€™s event was the formal launch of the coalition movement, adding that there were plans to flag off its activities and spread the message to all the nooks and crannies of the country.
On whether he had resigned his membership of the APC, the former governor said the issue did not arise since the CNM was a movement and not yet a political party, stressing that he was not tied down by any political party.
When pressed again as to whether the movement intends to transmute to a full fledged political party to contest the 2019 presidential election, Oyinlola said: â€˜I still stand by my speech that ours is not a political party but if the movement says it wants to transform to a political party, that will be a collective decision, not mine.â€
A former governor of Cross River State Donald Duke, who also addressed the gathering, said if concrete action was not taken to rescue the country, Nigeria would become endangered.
â€œPerhaps this endeavor is timely, the name coalition cannot do it all, we need to bring ourselves together if we are gong to make this work.
â€œMore importantly, we have the dire consequences of now for our nation, where we are today. If we tarry for another three or four years, the disaster will be worse, it is not going to get better except we all come together to change the narrative, to change where we are going,â€ he said.
Duke lamented that whereas 39 years ago, Nigeria with a population of about 90 million, was budgeting $25 billion, now that the country has an estimated 200 million population, her budget is only $23 billion.
Also, a staunch member of the APC and close ally of Buhari during his days in the defunct Congress for Progressives Change (CPC), Buba Galadima, said the movement was being formed to rescue the country from disintegration. â€œOur aim is to salvage our country from disintegration.â€
When reminded that he was still a member of the APC and that the incumbent, President Buhari, may be seeking re-election, Galadima said Nigerians would only support his bid if there was concrete evidence that he has performed well.
â€œIf the president wants to be re-elected and he can show us empirical evidence that he has performed in terms of infrastructure development in this country, that he has put food on the table and managed to unify the people of this country, then so be it; we will be prepared to vote for him.
â€œBut if those indices are not available, then he does not deserve a second term,â€ he said.
Other notable politicians at the launch included a former chairman of the PDP, Ahmadu Ali, Akin Osuntokun, Tafawa Balewa and Segun Runsewe, among others.
Following the national launch of the movement in Abuja, Obasanjoâ€™s spokesman, Mr. Kehinde Akinyemi, said Thursday that the former president would flag off the registration of the CNM in Abeokuta, Ogun State Thursday.
According to Akinyemi, the registration would take place at the Ogun State secretariat of Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Abeokuta.
Meanwhile, 30 opposition parties have agreed to join hands to form yet another coalition to be known as the Coalition for a New Nigeria (CNN) and have called on Nigerians to unite and vote out Buhari and the APC in 2019.
The parties that have agreed to form the CNN are the National Conscience Party (NCP), Africa Democratic Congress (ADC), Peoples Progressive Alliance (PPA), Democratic Peopleâ€™s Congress (DPC) Labour Party (LP), Peopleâ€™s Party of Nigeria (PPN) and Action Alliance (AA). Others are: Alliance for Democracy (AD), Democratic Peopleâ€™s Party (DPP), Peopleâ€™s Democratic Change (PDC), and Better Nigeria Peopleâ€™s Party (BNPP).
Others include National Action Council (NAC), United Democratic Party (UDP) and Democratic Alternative (DA), among others. The coalition was formed in June 2017.
Addressing a press conference in Abuja Tuesday night after their meeting, the national chairman of the Labour Party and chairman of CNN, AbdulKarim Abdulsalam, said the objective of the CNN was to defend the unity of Nigeria and to proffer solutions on ways to move Nigeria in the right direction.
He said CNN was ready to partner with any other group with a similar agenda to oust Buhari and the APC, even though it ruled out a merger.
He said despite all the promises of the Buhari-led administration, the government had tormented the citizens with â€œcrass poverty and wealth erosion, massive and ravaging unemployment, internal insecurity and violence, occasioned by unabated attacks of the herdsmen and elements of Boko Haram in the North-east, North-central and South-eastern parts of the countryâ€.
Abdulsalam said it was disturbing that Nigerians were being divided along ethnic, religious and regional lines and accused the APC of hobbling the Nigerian economy by policy inertia, adding that there was an urgent need to salvage Nigeria and restore hope to her citizens.
Chairman of the NCP, Tanko Yunusa, who is also the spokesman of the coalition, said earlier that Buhari had failed Nigerians because he lacks the strength, vigour and competence to run the country.
He warned that another four years under Buhari would be a recipe for chaos in the country.
Other party leaders at the press briefing included the national chairman of United Democratic Party (UDP), Godson Okoye; national chairman of the DPC, Olusegun Peters; national chairman of PPN, Eyiowawa Rasak; national chairman of the DA, France Ukonga; and the national chairman of the ADC, Raph Nwosu, among others.