By Okey Ndiribe, Assistant Political Editor
Second Republic Governor of old Kaduna State and Chairman of a faction of Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP),Â Alhaji Balarabe Musa is saddened by the split of the Mega Summit Movement into three smaller groups. In a telephone interview with Vanguard, the tough-talking politicianÂ saidÂ that if these groups didn’t rescind their decision to float splinter bodies, the ultimate aim of the opposition which is that of wresting power from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party ( PDP) in the forth coming 2011 presidential election would not be realised. Excerpts:
Is CNPP involved in the formation of theÂ National Democratic Movement ( NDM) ?
The formation of National Democratic Initiative ( NDI) is an unfortunate development within the ranks of thoseÂ who are trying to defeat the PDP in the 2011 general election and establish the foundation of a true democratic development for Nigeria.
The NDI is the second siblingÂ of the Mega Summit Movement ( MSM) just like Coalition of Democrats for Electoral Reforms (CODER)Â which was floated to pursue the goal of electoral reforms is the third sibling.Â The crux of the matter is that the promoters of bothÂ CODER and NDI participated actively in the establishment of theÂ MSM. The major promoters ofÂ MSM are Chief Anthony Enahoro, Chief Olu Falae and myself.
The promoters of CODER areÂ Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Femi Falana while those of NDI are former military Head of State Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), former Vice-President Alhaji Abubakar Atiku and former Governor of Sokoto State Alhaji Atahiru Bafarawa. This splitÂ within the MSM hasÂ enabledÂ the PDPÂ to promote its own front for the purpose of counteringÂ those opposed to it.
Which organisation are you referring to as a front forÂ PDP?
The PDP has floated the Patriotic Alliance through Mr. Maxi Okwu, who was the former Secretary of the CNPP.Â A number of parties in the CNPP participated in the formation of the Mega Summit Movement ( MSM). Some of them also participated in the establishment of CODER., NDI and Patriotic Alliance. The whole thing is shameful.
Is it true that NDI is a northern platform?
It is an unfortunate impression. I am saying this from the point ofÂ view of an insider. I am one of the promoters of the MSM. There is a problem in MSM. The problemÂ has to do with some members of the MSM from the South-West zone who cannot work together. Some northernÂ members of the MSM who are now involved in the promotion of NDI haveÂ given the impression that it is a northern movement. This is what the average politician would say.
They would not see it as mere power struggle. The press should understand this problem. It is not easy to confront a political party like the PDP in the Nigerian context. It demands a higher level of patriotism. Some of us have already started the process of trying to get all the various factions to come together.
These include CODER, NDI and even Patriotic Alliance. We should bring them under one umbrella to resolve the differences. We would need the assistance of civil society organisations and the five political parties we have been working with. This will enable us to build a truly Patriotic Front.
Are you saying Nigerians should expect the NDM and MSM to work together?
Yes, even if it entails all of us to dissolve into one formidable group. I was informed by those promoting NDM of their intention to form this group. But they know I am opposed to the formation of another new group.Â Donâ€™t forget that CNPP is an umbrella organisation for all the 54 registered political parties.
What is your assessment of the strength ofÂ Â NDM ?
What I think is the major purpose of NDM has to do with the relevance of Buhari, Atiku and Bafarawa and their presidential aspirations. The unfortunate thing is that all these splinter groups are the same. How can four political partiesÂ work together to stop the ruling party from retaining power? We should not quarrel about this but try to do damage control.
Donâ€™t youÂ think that ordinary Nigerians may consider electoral reforms as abstract; that the people are more bothered about a political party that can provide themÂ with basic necessities of life?
No, electoral reform is not abstract to ordinary Nigerians. The people should know and we should make it clear to them that it is because of the absence of credible elections that we have government that lacks credibility.
If you have a credible electoral process that brings about a legitimate and patriotic government, itÂ will work. For instance, the PDP is clearly in favour of a one-party dictatorship.
They have even gone to the extent of saying that they will remain in office for the next 60 years which we interprete to mean for ever. But these same groups which oppose the PDP also agree with the ruling party that there should be a limit to the number of political parties in the country.Â They want the number of political parties in the country to be limited to five. And they want to establish a mega political party. What is the guarantee that the mega political party they intend to float would be one of the five approved parties.
The NDI and patriotic Alliance are in favour of limiting the number of political parties in the country. This is in conflict with the Constitution which provides for freedom of association. We had to fight for this right to be confirmed by going up to the Supreme Court.