Duke, Ezekwesili, Mimiko, Others Join Forces against Buhari, Atiku

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• Falana, Durotoye, others canvass paradigm shift

Gboyega Akinsanmi

In a new realignment to end the recycling of old generation political leaders in the country, no fewer than 10 candidates in the 2019 presidential election have agreed to join forces against the aspiration of President Muhammadu Buhari and his main challenger, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.

The candidates, who include Donald Duke of the Social Democratic Party (SDP); Dr. Olusegun Mimiko of the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP); Dr. Oby Ezekwesili of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN) and Mr. Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim of the Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN), also agreed to produce a consensus candidate.

Other candidates involved in the third force movement are Prof. Kingsley Moghalu of the Young Progressive Party (YPP); Mr. Obadiah Melafia of African Democratic Congress (ADC); Dr. Sina Fagbenro Byron of the Kowa Party (KP) and Mr. Ali Soyode of Yes Party (YP), among others

The Nigeria Intervention Movement (NIM), a third force movement of new political actors in Nigeria, brokered the agreement at a roundtable held with the presidential candidates in Abeokuta, Ogun State capital, at the weekend.

In a communique after the roundtable, the NIM under the chairmanship of former President of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Dr. Olisa Agbakoba, noted that the presidential candidates “have already perfected plans to shortlist and settle for a fresh breed consensus Presidential candidate for the 2019 elections.”

The communique said the roundtable resolved “to align all serious presidential candidates of the third force political parties into a common platform for the purpose of upstaging the two presidential standard bearers of the old order in All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the 2019 elections.”

It added that the agreement was inspired by the recent pacts for structural merger signed by the Peoples Trust (PT) and African Democratic Congress (ADC) on one hand and the strategic alliance ratified last month between the Peoples Trust (PT) and the Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN) on the other hand.

The communique said the third force political parties had already set the tone for the emergence of a consensus presidential candidate of the third force against Buhari of APC and Atiku of PDP.

It added that the movement to shortlist consensus presidential candidate of the third force “is billed to hold in Abuja in the last week of October to be chaired by a frontline leader of the civil society and Chairman of NIM, Agbakoba.

“We have to come to a very firm realisation that none of us in the third force, fresh breed political parties in Nigeria, can go it alone against the two behemoth hence the necessity for a consensus among third force political parties to take the country back to the people in 2019 from the ruthless grip of APC and PDP.”

Also at a symposium in honour of the late Afro-beat king, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, at the NECA House yesterday, pro-democracy actors canvassed a generational shift of power from the old to the new in 2019.

The actors are a human lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, Omoyele Sowore, presidential candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC); Fela Durotoye, Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN); Eunice Atu-Ejike, National Interest Party (NIP) among others.

Speaking at the symposium, Falana said the struggle for the Nigerian presidency was not about age, saying the time was ripe for the young generation to take over power in 2019 as the country was currently in crisis.

“The country is in crisis and we will not get solution by repackaging distorted views of the ruling class. Our country remains one of the richest in the world but our people are poor,” he lamented.

Falana said the President Buhari’s government claimed to be fighting corruption with few money recovered so far, but lamented that the real criminals had not been touched.

He said out of the over 80 million eligible voters, about 60 million of them “are youths and that such a huge population of young voters could swing the pendulum to the side of the youths. We have more young people in the voting population; we can change the equation if we can get it right.”

In his presentation, Durotoye, who spoke so eloquently said since the older generation refused to step aside, they would be overtaken by the new generation, as the younger generation needed to take the country to the land of glory.

He observed that God “has blessed Africa, and recent research showed that 60 percent of resources required by the world in 21st century are in Africa. Nigeria is blessed and we have not been able to tap our potential. This is because we only have rulership in Nigeria and not leadership.

Also at the symposium, Sowore explained that Fela was in charge of his destiny when he was alive, saying Nigerians did not always celebrate theirown people who had contributed immensely to the development of the nation.

But Atu-Ejide had a contrary view from Sowore and Durotoye’s assertion that the old generation must be phased out, saying what should be looked at was not whether young or old but better leadership driven with ideas.

She said Nigeria should be grateful that it never had presidents, who had spent up to 10 years in office unlike in many African countries where sit-tight presidents spent decades of years in power, saying what was important in governance was to pick the right leader, whether old or young.

“If we make the mistake of picking people who don’t care but just talk, we will put the wrong people in there and it is not just about age. Even younger age, we have some evil people. Better is not necessarily younger,” Atu-Ejide said.