•Vow to repeat 2015 scenario
•Buy into Third Force
•It’s a rescue mission —CNM
•APC responds gamely
By Clifford Ndujihe, Deputy Political Editor,
Additional reports from Henry Umoru and Dirisu Yakubu
WORRIED by what they described as the total failure of the All Progressives Congress, APC-led Federal Government to offer good governance, a host of opposition political parties have declared their readiness to stop APC and President Muhammadu Buhari at the 2019 elections.
To realise the objective, some of them have started moves to consummate what they describe as ‘’ a rainbow coalition’’ that will field or back a joint candidate against the APC in 2019.
Already, the Dr Olisa Agbakoba-led Nigeria Intervention Movement, NIM, is working towards giving the electorate ‘’a credible alternative’’ or ‘’Third Force’’ to the APC and main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, at the polls.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s recent open letter to President Buhari asking him not to re-contest on account of poor performance and subsequent formation of the Coalition for Nigeria Movement, CNM, to drive the process of retrieving power from Buhari, has added impetus to the aspiration of the opposition parties.
Last week, 22 political parties on the plank of Committee of Concerned Political Parties, CCPP, constituted six committees to hammer out action plans for the 2019 general election.
Interim Chairman of CCPP, Dr Onwubuya Breakforth, who is also the national chairman of Freedom and Justice Party, FJP, told newsmen in Abuja that the group was concerned about boiling national issues, including killings by herdsmen and restructuring.
The sub-committees are on restructuring Nigeria and inter-governmental affairs, national security and integration, planning and finance, contact and mobilisation, and research and documentation.
Said Breakforth: “The CCPP also resolved to jointly discuss and proffer solutions to key national issues threatening the peace and unity of our dear country. It was further resolved that various options open to the group in relation to the 2019 general elections would be explored in the best interest of the country.”
He listed some of the parties in the CCPP as Freedom and Justice Party, FJP; Sustainable National Party, SNP;, New Nigeria Peoples Party, NNPP; Social Democratic Party, SDP; Allied Congress Party of Nigeria, ACPN; Unity Party of Nigeria, UPN; Grassroots Development Party of Nigeria, GDPN; and National People’s Congress, NPC.
Some of the parties were peeved by the recent comment of Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State that there is no alternative to President Buhari in 2019 and vowed to repeat the 2015 scenario in which an opposition party beat an incumbent party. Will they succeed?
Nigeria’s political history is replete with failed alliances and mergers. In the First Republic, the United Progressive Grand Alliance, UPGA, consisting mainly of the National Council for Nigerian Citizens, NCNC, and the Action Group, AG could not stop the Northern People’s Congress, NPC, because UPGA leaders could not sink their ambitions and differences.
In the Second Republic, the Nigerian People’s Party, NPP, Unity Party of Nigeria, UPN, People’s Redemption Party, PRP, and the Great Nigerian People’s Party, GNPP, formed the People’s Progressive Alliance, PPA, which also failed to click against the National Party of Nigeria, NPN.
In 1999, the Alliance for Democracy, AD, which had swept the South-West in earlier polls aligned with All Peoples Party, APP that dominated elections in the North with the intention of beating PDP at the presidential polls. It gave the PDP a good fight but failed to win the election.
In 2007, about 15 parties came together and formed the Action Congress, AC, but the party made little or no impact in the presidential election.
A move by the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN and Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, to join forces in the 2011 polls did not yield dividends.
However, alliances bore fruits at the 2015 general polls. The then ruling PDP was given a good fight and beaten in the presidential poll after leaders of the APC did their homework. Before the presidential victory, the first time an incumbent party was losing election in Nigeria, leaders of the APC, an amalgam of four opposition parties – Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN; All Nigerian Peoples Party, ANPP; CPC; and a faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, said they joined forces to rescue Nigeria from the deadly grip of the PDP.
It’s a rescue mission —CNM
Like leaders of the APC said in 2015, members of the Obasanjo-propelled CNM and the opposition parties said they want to rescue Nigeria from President Buhari.
Speaking at the launch of CNM, last week, Duke, said he is part of the move because ‘’Nigeria is in dire straits and Nigerians need to come together and chart the way forward for the country. Nigeria is not going to get better except we come together to change the narrative and the situation. We know that, as a nation, we can do better than we currently do. So let us focus on the issues and how to adequately address them to improve our collective lot.”
Asked the driving force behind the Third Force, Chief Akin Osuntokun, a renowned journalist, former managing director of the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN and Political Adviser to former President Obasanjo, said it is the quest to give Nigerians hope following the failure of the APC government and lack of readiness on the part of the PDP to fill the vacuum.
He said: ‘’The APC is almost like a choice between the devil and the deep blue sea. That is why a third party is so much compelling and appealing. There has to be a third party today to give the people something to hope for…
‘’The Third Force will include aggrieved and alienated members of the APC and PDP. It is a very exciting prospect and will catch on given the mood of Nigerians. Even in terms of raw political calculations, stakeholders and gladiators with grassroots support and machinery will see a bright prospect in the third party.’’
According to him, the Third Force will fly because there are many aggrieved people in APC that are not ready to go to the PDP and so also people in PDP that will never go to the APC.
Indeed, some leaders of the APC and PDP were at the launch of the CNM, last week.
Prominent APC chieftains at the event were Buba Galadima, a member of the party’s Board of Trustees, BoT; and former Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola, the incumbent chairman of the Nigeria Identity Management Commission, among others.
From the PDP were former National Chairman, Col. Ahmadu Ali, retd, former Governor Donald Duke, and another former presidential aspirant on the platform of the party, Dr. Abduljelil Tafawa Balewa, among others.
Another four years of Buhari will mark the end of Nigeria – Okorie
National Chairman of the United Progressive Party, UPP, Chief Chekwas Okorie, in a chat with Saturday Vanguard, said his party is in support of any move that will save the country from the bad governance of President Buhari even though the UPP has zoned its presidential ticket to the South-East geo-political zone.
He said: ‘’At the non-elective national convention of UPP held at Awka, Anambra State on June 29, 2017, the Convention ratified the zoning of the party’s presidential slot for the 2019 election to the South-East geopolitical zone. The ratification by the highest organ of the party remains sacrosanct. It will take a duly convened National Convention to set it aside or modify it. The position is that a presidential candidate from the South-East geopolitical zone shall fly the UPP Presidential flag in 2019.
‘’However, the party is very receptive of the much desired Third Force. UPP is consulting widely on this initiative and is willing to anchor it preferably in coalition with political parties of like minds especially with regard to the high points of our party manifesto registered with INEC viz; self determination of Nigeria’s ethnic nationalities, restructuring, devolution of power, referendum, state police and community policing, etc.
‘’Governor El Rufai is entitled to his opinion. Maybe the All Progressives Congress is stuck with President Buhari without any alternative option as a presidential candidate for the 2019 presidential election. My opinion is that President Buhari’s Administration is a disaster. Another four-year tenure for President Buhari will be Nigeria’s nunc dimitis.’’
Why CNM’ll work with opposition against APC
With barely a year to the 2019 general elections, the Coalition for Nigeria Movement (CNM) recently formed in Abuja as a response to a call for a “Third force” by former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, will work with the opposition against the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Vanguard has gathered.
According to findings, the coalition is not likely to morph into a political party this year, considering the closeness to the elections but is primed to work with other political groups to vote out the APC. Although, not a political party, the movement has wasted no time in pushing for a change in the leadership of the country, following legion of expression of disappointment recently in the leadership of the country by eminent citizens including Obasanjo and Ibrahim Babangida.
Convener of CNM and a former governor of Osun State had at the launch of the movement a couple of weeks ago, spoken of the need to kick start the process when he said, “ With the aims and objectives of the coalition, it is mandatory for us to hit the ground running. Time is not on our side and if we are going to effect the aims of the coalition, then we must run fast.”
There are claims in some quarters that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) may turn out the biggest beneficiary of the imminent alliance provided internal democracy plays out in the selection of its Presidential flag bearer. Already, some of the big shots behind the formation of the coalition are reaching out to the opposition in a bid to come up with a popular Presidential candidate that would be acceptable to Nigerians across the North and South of the divide.
Former Lagos State PDP governorship candidate in the 2015 general elections, Jimi Agbaje, in an exclusive chat with Vanguard on Thursday said the party is open to any idea that would help produce a President capable of changing the fortunes of the Nigerian State for good.
According to him, “The PDP will certainly welcome the arrangement whereby the CNM and indeed all who believe there is a need for a change of the present administration, team up with the main opposition party, in electing a President that can better address the fundamental challenges our country is saddled with today,” stressing that “The best chance to achieve this is in a two-way contest rather than in a multitude of smaller parties.”
Like Agbaje, Tunde Adeniran said there is a chance the coalition may join forces with the opposition to defeat the ruling party. While denying knowledge of the ideological stand of CNM, Professor Adeniran insists nothing should be ruled out as the 2019 elections draw closer.
“I do not have sufficient knowledge of the philosophy and agenda of the CNM to make any categorical statement on what it would do. There is however the likelihood of its collaborating with other political groupings to defeat the APC in the forthcoming elections,” he stated.
A highly placed source who spoke to Vanguard on condition of anonymity said the coalition could strike a deal with the PDP provided it produces a Presidential candidate acceptable to Nigerians and one capable of making in-roads in the north which is seen as the support base of President Buhari.
According to him, the candidacy of Sule Lamido or Ibrahim Dankwambo would appeal to Obasanjo who is yet to change his mind on Atiku Abubakar, the country’s former Vice President who rejoined the PDP about two months ago. “Baba (Obasanjo) is very much in touch with Lamido and to an extent, the Gombe State governor. Should any of these two get the PDP’s nod to square up against the APC, there is a chance the coalition will work with this arrangement,” he said.
While insisting the group is a pro-Nigeria platform, our source said the inability of the ruling party to unite the diverse ethnic nationalities that make up Nigeria, informed the decision of “These patriotic citizens” to square up for a rescue mission.
His words, “The biggest index of APC performance so far is the unity of the country that is being threatened by spates of violent skirmishes here and there. The least one expects from a government is demonstration of will to avert these crises but this has not been the case. This is the reason these like-minds chose to rise up to save the nation from a bleak future,” he added.
Although Donald Duke, former Cross River State recently indicated interest in running for the Presidency of the country, stressing the importance of projecting “People with the technical know-how to take the country to the Promised Land,” he is likely to shelve his ambition for now, and work in the overall interest of the coalition.
In order to realise its goal of a new government in place, CNM is working behind the scene, enjoining eligible voters on the imperative of getting their Permanent Voter’s card (PVC) ahead of the polls. This is in addition to political education members of the coalition have been charged to dish out to Nigerians to whom they may come in contact.
Buhari unfit to rule Nigeria – UPN, Green Party, NCP
Also, the Green Party of Nigeria, GPN and Unity Party of Nigeria, UPN, disagreed with Governor el-Rufai that there is no alternative to President Buhari in 2019 because judging with his performance the president has shown that he is unfit to rule the country.
UPN National Chairman, Professor Bankole Okuwa, said there are many alternatives to President Buhari. He said the president has failed to lead Nigeria well since 2015 and therefore does not deserve to be re-elected.
‘’Apart from poor performance, Buhari has not been in good health. He was a military man and has been unable to cope with the values of democracy. He promised to fight economic corruption, publish the amount of money recovered, and those who made plea bargain, etc. He has not been able to keep the promise and now corruption is killing Nigeria,’’ he said.
Speaking in like manner, National Chairman of GPN, Dr Sam Eke said: ‘’El-Rufai’s comment is unfortunate and contradictory because in 2007 he said Buhari was not fit to rule Nigeria. Between when he made that comment and now Nigeria has produced more capable hands who can rule the country better than Buhari.
‘’The APC government has failed Nigeria. The basic condition for re-election is performance, not propaganda. Through their bad governance, nepotism, and skewed appointments and policies Nigeria is now more divided than ever and the country is sitting on a keg of gunpowder. Buhari and APC will be dealt with at the polls because Nigerians are prepared to exercise their rights through one-man, one-vote.’’
Going forward, he said GPN will join forces with parties that share its ideology to rescue Nigeria from the APC. There are moves for all to join forces against APC. That is how we will do it.
Also, National Chairman of the National Conscience Party, NCP, Dr Yinusa Tanko, said his party is in support of the Third Force and was part of those who created the CNM.
He disagreed with el-Rufai on President Buhari continuing in 2019 because ‘’you cannot say there is no alternative to Buhari when we have millions among 180 million Nigerians who can hold the position more positively and vigorously.’’
In readiness for the 2019 elections, he said the NCP has been holding state congresses since the beginning of last year.
Be architects of your future, PNI urges youths
Looking at the state of the nation, a socio-political advocacy group, Path-finders Nigeria Initiative, PNI, urged Nigerians, especially youths to become the architects of their future by showing more interests in the country’s political development and participate actively in the political leadership selection process.
In a statement by its Executive Director, Chief SBN Nwokolo, after a meeting to review recent developments in the polity, the group noted that “sitting on the fence when things are going wrong in the nation amounts to a tacit endorsement of bad leadership and continuous rape and underdevelopment of the nation.’’
Nwokolo said: “Nigeria belongs to all her citizens. The right of citizens to participate in the governance process or selection of those that should genuinely represent their interests in leadership positions in a democratic government at all levels is guaranteed by the constitution. Standing aloof or grumbling in one’s private space o on the social media about the ills of successive governments without taking any legitimate and realistic steps at reordering the patterns of events that are contrary to the will of the people makes one complicit in the continuing failure of leadership in our land.
‘’It is imperative to note that your singular vote can make a difference in the choice of who represents you as a councillor, local government chairman, at the House of Assembly, National Assembly, governor or at the highest level, the presidency. But without a valid voter’s card, automatically you make yourself irrelevant in performing this very important constitutionally given right.”
The PNI, whose objective is advocacy for transparent, purposeful leadership, ethical reorientation, peace and uplifting of humanity, therefore, called on all Nigerians of voting age, who had not yet registered as voters to take “the important step of making themselves eligible for voting in the coming elections by taking advantage of the ongoing Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, voters registration exercise, as our vote is not only our power but our life.’’
APC responds gamely
However, leaders of the APC are insisting that President Buhari remains the best choice to take Nigeria out of the woods and ensure socio-political stability.
In the last couple of weeks, the leaders have embarked on strategic measures to address the fears and concerns of Nigeria.
One of them is embracing restructuring. The party raised a committee headed by Malam el-Rufai, which after touring the six geo-political zones and getting memoranda from diverse groups recommended restructuring of the country, resource control, devolution of power and state police among others.
Many groups including the Southern and Middle-Belt leaders forum, had repeatedly called for the restructuring of Nigeria and made it a condition for holding the 2019 election.
On Thursday in Abuja, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who represented President Buhari at a Security Summit organised by the Senate, expressed support for state and community policing to fight the scourge of insecurity ravaging many parts of the country.
In response to various calls to assuage aggrieved members of the party said to have been sidelined by the presidency after helping the APC to power, President Buhari, early in the week named Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu the leader of fresh reconciliatory moves in the party.
Asiwaju Tinubu is one those said to have been sidelined in the scheme of things in the party. One of the sore points was the handling of the Ondo State governorship election, in which he publicly chided the APC leadership for not following due process in the primaries.
In a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, President Buhari gave Tinubu’s terms of reference to include: leading consultative and reconciliatory moves aimed at rebuilding confidence in the party, resolving existing disputes among party men and women as well as between party leadership and political office holders in some states.
APC jittery, wants to hoodwink Nigerians with restructuring – ECA
Looking the moves, the Eastern Consultative Assembly, ECA, picked holes in the report of the APC committee backing restructuring of the country, and el-Rufai’s comments that President Buhari would implement restructuring if re-elected.
In a statement by its Deputy Leader, Mrs. Maria Okwor and Secretary, Evang. Elliot Ugochukwu-Uko, the ECA said: the ‘’APC report on restructuring is a red herring, a smoke screen and an ungodly deception designed solely to buy time, to deceive and to mislead the masses of the country into voting in, this tasteless, ruthless and unworthy cabal into the office for a second term.
‘’The deliberate effort to pretend that they are willing to restructure, designed only for the elections a year away is from the pit of hell. The designers of this evil strategy know that they have no intention to yield to the sensible clamour to restructure Nigeria. They know, they made four attempts to grab power for only one purpose: to impose their agenda on 180 million Nigerians. That agenda is dutiful being driven by their militia wing: the Fulani herdsmen. That agenda is also glaring enough for the blind to see the nauseating nepotism in the lopsided appointments that has divided the country.
‘’Turning around to attempt to appeal to the sensibilities of Nigerians who yearn for a genuine restructuring of the polity by pretending they now believe in the same restructuring they claim not to understand what it means, is a clear sign that this ruthless cabal that has destroyed Nigeria in three years, has probably become jittery, after realizing that Nigerians have rejected them. They, therefore, foolishly hope to deceive Nigerians, by pretending they have become born again apostles of restructuring. A ploy they used successfully just before the last elections…’
‘’Whereas, returning Nigerian to true fiscal federalism, regional autonomy and resource control, consensually affirmed through a referendum and a new constitution, remains the only way to salvage Nigeria, infantile ploys by vicious elements to continue to hold us all hostage through guile, albeit, making public a deceptive report on restructuring, which they have no intention whatsoever to implement, just so they could fool the people yet again shows how desperate the oppressive cabal destroying Nigeria today, has suddenly become.’’
How PDP will stop APC – Bwacha, Ohuabunwa
SENATE Deputy Minority Leader, Senator Emmanuel Bwacha, PDP, Taraba South, and the Chairman, Senate Committee on Primary HealthCare and Communicable Diseases, Senator Mao Ohuabunwa, PDP, Abia North, in separate chats outlined how the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP intends to stop the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC at the 2019 polls. They also pooh-poohed Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State over his comments that there was no alternative to President Buhari in 2019.
Senator Emmanuel Bwacha said: “Our plans for 2019 appear to be already in the public domain. Nigerian citizens and Nigerian voters are planning for us because of the general disenchantment, the fear that has gripped everyone across the political landscape, fear of insecurity that our property, our lives are no longer secure.
“This alone is enough to change the government. As a party, we are not unaware of where and where to improve in our shortcomings, so we are already doing that and we have gone far. We are also engaging critical players to ensure that we work out a synergy to improve on areas we have been seen to have been lacking before. Essentially, these are the things we are looking up to in the next general election.”
On whether PDP will join a coalition or go into an alliance to stop APC, he said: “Because of the threat caused by the PDP in the emerging order in the country, naturally you should expect the party in government to begin to throw spanners into our works. We are aware of this, we are working round the clock, we have been able to reach out to them. There are members of PDP who offered themselves to be used. We believe they have seen the light. Like any other party, you should expect that.
“Of course, this is party politics. Where we see any group that has substance, that has weight, that has the capacity, we will engage such a group because the purpose is one – to have a change of government that will put smiles on the faces of Nigerians. We will ensure that we do this within the shortest possible time. So, if we have any coalition or group that we share the same opinion, areas of disagreements can be corrected and amended and subsumed into our political party.
We are not unaware of areas where we need to improve. This is exactly where we are working on and we are trusting God that we will get there. Winning election often times will depend on strategy, what are those strategies, strategy of carrying everybody along including the coalitions.”
On El- Rufai’s comment that there is no alternative to Buhari in 2019, Bwacha said: “That is his personal decision. Left for him he wouldn’t mind continuing to be in power for 60 years. It is not a big deal. In fact, he could just take over from Buhari. Those are the illusions that he has been. But I think he needs to come to terms with the reality on the ground. He needs to appreciate and understand the temper and tempo of the moment, the proclivity of the time otherwise, he will be flooded, he will be carried away by the flood that is coming over Nigeria.”
PDP has rediscovered itself – Ohuabaunwa
On his part, Senator Mao Ohuabunwa said: “PDP has rediscovered itself. From the way we handled our convention, which was peaceful, transparent shows that we have rediscovered ourselves and prepared to make amends where necessary. One of these is to open our doors to every person to come.
“Secondly, we have decided as a party to ensure no more imposition of candidates, every person must emerge through the grassroots system. And for anybody to deceive himself, to say that there is no alternative to APC come 2019 is a clear lie. How can he say no alternative? On what basis? You must base it with facts and what the people want to see is a better life, improvement in life.
“You can see that everything is falling apart showing that the centre cannot hold. And when the centre cannot hold, it is to your tent oh Israel. So definitely, this is an opportunity for PDP to show that it has really recovered, I believe that Nigerians are really prepared to give PDP one more chance to see what they will do. But the good thing is that people are calling PDP, PDP is a party, 75 percent of former people who were in PDP are those who are now in APC.
“What it means is that those who are causing the problem in PDP actually moved to APC, so now PDP will put its house in order and give Nigeria a better life.
“We don’t believe in coalition, it is not in our constitution. We are law-abiding citizens. PDP is a law-abiding party. We believe in the constitution, the constitution is the grund norm, you can’t bring what is not in the constitution, there is nothing like coalition in the country. But constitution recognises INEC, recognises political parties as a means of seeking election. Change of power through coalition is more like civil society or labour union language, maybe military, I don’t know. It is not democratic, it could be autocratic.”