By Daud Olatunji
ABEOKUTA—Former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday, launched his much-touted Movement tagged Coalition for Nigerian Movement in Abeokuta, saying, his motive was not born out of malice.
Obasanjo, however, dissociated himself from other Third Forces, describing his movement as big masquerade.
The former President spoke after he formally registered as a member of CNM at the short ceremony held at the Secretariat of the Ogun State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, Oke-Ilewo, Abeokuta.
Obasanjo, who stormed the NUJ secretariat around 12:42pm amid retinue of armed security operatives, politicians including former Osun State governor, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola; ex-Governor Donald Duke (Cross River), former minister, Mrs Dupe Adelaja; former governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the 2015 election, Gboyega Isiaka, opinion leaders and scores of enthusiastic residents desirous of registering as CMN members.
The former President, who registered his membership by 12:52 pm, said it had become imperative for the nation to “rethink and retool the way” things are done today if the country hoped to witness true development, cooperation and unity.
Obasanjo, in his speech, said the registration was an important ceremony as a follow up to the earlier letter issued by him about the state of the nation where he also advised the President.
Speaking on women and youth participation in the movement, Obasanjo said: “You will see that in my prior statement on the January 23rd, the issue of women was raised very heavily. The position is this: if there will be a change in this country for good, the people that would bring that about would be the youths and the women. That has to be appreciated and right from the word go, they must be carried along. They must have a place of honour, they must have a place of responsibility, and they must be part and parcel of governance in this country. If what we have tried in the past has not taken us to the Promised Land, we must try something else.”
When asked on what he discussed with President Buhari at the African Union Summit, in Ethiopia, Obasanjo said: “I wonder why some Nigerians were worried why I had to pay respect to the Nigerian President, that’s my own upbringing as a well-born and bred Yoruba boy.
“That doesn’t mean that what I have said about the President, which I did not say out of bitterness and hatred, it is evidence that the President has performed, in some areas, good enough, in other areas not good and a proper advice which he may take and he may not take.
“I didn’t do that out of malice or out of ‘bad belle’, I did it out of my respect for that office and my interest and I hope in your interest and the interest of Buhari in Nigeria.
“I went to him just before the beginning of the opening of AU summit; I had gone round to meet some few other Presidents, should I ignore him? So, I went to my President, greeted him and we joked before General AbdulSalami said we should have a group photograph,” he said.
On the relationship with other movements, Obasanjo said: “there are other movements but we, as far as I know, have no direct or indirect relationship with any other movements, we do not.”
Speaking further, he said: “But as I said, if there are people of like minds, people who share the view and the aims and objectives of Coalition for Nigeria Movement, who want to join this movement, we will not object, we will welcome them.
“But to the best of my knowledge, this is a movement that has no relationship with any other movement that I know of.”
“This is the new message in town, the new dance in town, the ceremony in town and I will appeal to you to join this ceremony and dance in town because there may be many masquerades and those of you who had my own type of background, when we were growing up, we were playing masquerades too but those were small masquerades. When big masquerades come out, the small masquerade must come out. I appeal to you to join the ceremony, the dance and the message.”