By Jide Ajani, Deputy Editor
THE push for electoral reformsÂ Â launched in Abuja on Thursday by some prominent politicians in the country is not all about reforms, according to indications.
Former Lagos governor, Ashiwaju Bola Tinubu; one-time speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Ghali Naâ€™Abba;Â former national chairman of PDP, Chief Audu Ogbeh; former Edo State governor, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun;Â and representatives of former military ruler, General Muhammadu Buhari, among others, who met in the Federal Capital under the aegis of Coalition of Democrats for Electoral Reforms, CODER, said they wanted to devise â€œappropriate institutional, legitimate, lawful and democratic means including media campaigns, town meetings and ralliesâ€.
In doing that, they expect to sensitize and mobilise voters on the desirability of an acceptable electoral system capable of guaranteeing their choice in all elections.
However, Sunday Vanguard gathered that the coalition whose members are drawnÂ from the ruling PDP and other parties is essentially to raise the tempoÂ of the opposition in the country and play the role of the opposition as in other democratic settings.
This, it was gathered, following concern shown by some western countries that the opposition in Nigeria is sterile and opposition politicians â€œdo too much of talking without actionâ€. The western countries, political sources in Abuja, said, have even threatened to halt their capacity building support for government with a view to strengthening credible opposition should the 2011 elections be considered less than democratic in content and form.
â€œThat was why you saw those politicians spitting fire (see Story of The Week) last Thursday at Sheraton in Abuja.Â Whereas the issues they placed on the table, majorly that votes must count would be seen as a measured attempt to recreate the opposition preparatory to the 2011 electionsâ€, sources said.
It was gathered that a meeting which was scheduled between the opposition leadership in the country and President Obama of US could not take place because the Deputy Chairman of the PDP, Dr. Haliru Bello, blew the lid off the arrangement when he said the US was sponsoring some politicians to create disaffection in the country.Â The meeting was immediately called off.
And whereas the Presidency immediately dissociated itself from the statement by Haliru, it has now been confirmed that Haliru was merely used as a window for ventilation.
Sunday Vanguard also learnt that one of the head starts which was created for the opposition was PresidentÂ Obamaâ€™s â€œdeliberate but unusual salvosÂ launched against the Nigerian government from Ghana, which all but described Nigeria as a basket caseâ€.
Former Governor Tinubu, speaking ex tempore at Thursdayâ€™s meeting, expressed frustration at the way democracy was being practiced in Nigeria. Tinubu, said to be the major facilitator of CODER, said: â€œYes, I had breakfast with President Barrack Obama of the United States of America but in another manâ€™s country.Â What type of country are we in that we have just refused to do the basic things.
â€œLast week, we heard one of them (an obvious reference to former President Olusegun Obasanjo) in Imo State saying that â€˜we allowed him (Governor Ohakim who recently defected from PPA to PDP ) to win because there was an agreement that he would return to the PDP.
These people do not even have shame any more. â€˜We allowed him to winâ€™; so what that means is that they can decide that you will not win.Â In that case, what is the basis for your votes?Â How would your votes count?Â We have to defend our rights. If it is something we have to do with our blood so be itâ€
Sunday Vanguard was reliably informed that one of the conditions for the continued support of capacity building for pro-democracy activists is the ability of the opposition to be organised for effective take-over. Although, Mr. Ayo Opadokun, who spoke on behalf of the facilitators of CODER, and Chief John Odigie Oyegun, who chaired CODERâ€™s Technical Committee, made it clear that the group was neither partisan nor does it constitute the opposition, â€œitâ€™s main objective is to ensure that votes countâ€. Roll call at the meeting:
Mr. Abdulhakeen Abdulfatai, representing Fashola, Chief Abiodun Ogunleye, Alhaji Maina Waziri, Alhaji Ibrahim Hassan, Hon. Wale Oshun, Hon Jumoke Okoya, Hon Kako Are, Dr Kayode Fayemi, Alhaji Rauf Aregbesola; Alhaji Iro Dan Musa, Mr Dele Alake, Mr Tunji Bello, Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora; Senator Ganiu Solomon, Prince Tajudeen Olusi, Alhaji Maina Waziri. Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, Mrs. Funmi Olayinka, Senator Tony Adefuye, Chief Henry Ajomale, Senator Bode Ola, Alhaji Lam Adesina, Alhaji Tajudeen Olusi, Alhaji Olatunji Hamzat, Rev. Tunji Adebiyi. Dr Stanley Macebuh, Alhaji Ibrahim Hassan, Alhaji Yahaya Kwande, Chief Adeyemi Ikuforiji, Mr Emma Ezeazu. Alabo Idaminabo, Solomon Ewuga, Alhaji Suleiman Argungu, Innocent Chukwuma, Mike Igini, Comrade S.O.Z. Ejiofor.