…Alhaji Manni Ahmed, Perry Opara, Ralph Nwosu lead offensive
…We’re not disappointed, opposition groups’ll work together —PDP
…Buhari, APC taking Nigerians for fools, says Obasanjo; that’s his opinion—APC
….Third force takes on ruling party
By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor, Chris Ochayi, Daud Olatunji & Emeka Elebeke
LAGOS — Opposition to the All Progressives Congress, APC, got a fillip yesterday, when the Chief Olusegun Obasanjo-inspired Coalition for Nigeria Movement, CNM, collapsed into the African Democratic Congress, ADC, with the aim of enthroning a new generation of leaders in the country.
This is as Obasanjo said President Muhammadu Buhari and his party, APC, had taken Nigerians for fools.
The collapse of CNM came as its co-founder, Chief Olagunsoye Oyinlola resigned his membership of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC. He also resigned his position as chairman of the National Identity Management Commission, NIMC, to boot.
Oyinlola announced the development, while addressing newsmen in Abuja at a conference attended by Mr. Akin Oshuntokun, spokesman of the CNM and founder and national chairman of the ADC, Chief Ralph Nwosu.
Speaking three hours later at a separate briefing in Abeokuta, Ogun State, former President Obasanjo said the collapse of CNM into the ADC was a way of reversing the fortunes of the country which he said had taken a turn for the worse in the last three years.
Despite the snub to his former party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, President Obasanjo nevertheless toned down his disparagement of the former ruling party, asking Nigerians to consider the party’s plea for forgiveness even as he said that the party has disappointed by not disciplining those who brought it to the path of infamy.
The PDP, which had in the past encouraged all opposition groups to coalesce around it, said it was not disappointed by the rebuff.
Party spokesman, Mr. Kola Olagbonndiyan told Vanguard that all opposition groups and parties will have to work together to remove the APC with the PDP providing the lead.
“Our position is that all opposition political parties will have to work together and any coalition or party that does not join ADC is bound to work with the PDP,” the PDP National Publicity Secretary told Vanguard, yesterday.
Besides Oyinlola, Oshuntokun, and Nwosu, others at the Abuja media briefing included National Chairman, United Democratic Party, UDP, Chief Perry Opara; National Chairman, National Unity Party, NUP, and former Presidential candidate of ADC in 2015 elections, Alhaji Manni Ahmed, among others.
CNM was unveiled by President Obasanjo as a third force last January as a third option for the country in the face of what he described as the failure and incompetence of the ruling APC and the irreparable record of debauchery in the former ruling PDP.
Oyinlola said the formal fusion was the first of a multi-layered approach to recover the country from the APC.
“Beyond what we are doing here today, we put our countrymen and women, old and young, on notice that they should expect more from us; that they should expect deepened political engagements across platforms in the coming days and weeks. In other words, this is just the first in a multi-layered action plan to give back the country to its much-deprived people.
“As we stated in January during the launch of CNM, we are taking on this task not minding the inconveniences and other expected and unexpected consequences of our efforts at reinventing the country.
“While I, on behalf of the leadership and the over three million members of CNM, congratulate ADC as the vehicle for national reinvention, I urge us to let us know that the task ahead is an arduous one that needs further strengthening of the forces of change. What I am saying is that we should be open to new engagements and alliances being forged and crystallizing across the country.”
The national chairman of ADC, Chief Nwosu described the fusion as the dawn of a great Nigeria project, leading with the right ethical compass.
“Nation-building could be a very daunting exercise. But with good and committed leaders, the journey could be much easier. I invite all Nigerians to have very deep reflection concerning our Nation Nigeria, and its l00 years of Nationhood,” he said.
While echoing the choice of ADC as the vehicle for change at the press conference in Abeokuta, Obasanjo, however, said his stance that he would not play partisan politics had not changed as he insisted that he would not be a member of the party.
Obasanjo in his speech entitled: ‘My treatise for future of democracy and development in Nigeria’, first congratulated the three million Nigerians he said had come to identify with CNM since its advent last January in anger against the enthronement of “mis-governance, poor performance, condonation of misconduct, incompetence, destabilising nepotism, cluelessness, denial and scapegoatism, lack of understanding of dynamics of internal politics.”
These fractures, he said, had led to “greater disunity, inequity, injustice, senseless killings and destruction.
“With the emergence of ADC as a political party for the movement and its associates and in line with my clear position which I have often repeated, the first phase of my job is done, and I will not be a member of the party. But as I have always done since I quit partisan politics in 2014, I will keep alive and active on Nigerian and African issues and interests, and I will be open to offering advice to any individual or organisation for the unity, development, and progress of Nigeria and indeed of Africa.
“I will, of course, continue to exercise my right to freedom of speech where and when I consider necessary in the interest of Nigeria, Africa, and humanity. The second phase will involve galvanisation of all like-minded forces for the enthronement of a new order in Nigeria.”
In endorsing the ADC, he said: “From the beginning, CNM is not a political party but a popular grassroots movement to stimulate the interest and participation of youth and women in particular in bringing about change in democratic dispensation, governance and development in Nigeria in such a way that power addicts will be forced to yield places for new entrants and participants in the power equation in the country.
“They will sanitise the system. With ADC, embracing the policy of 30 per cent youth of under 40 and 30 per cent women in all organs of the party, a significant paradigm shift has been brought about in the power equation. ADC is a reformed and reinvigorated party; it will embrace all the features and policies which make CNM attractive and a source of hope and inspiration to millions at home and abroad.”
In giving his testimonial of ADC and rejection of the APC and PDP, Obasanjo said: “In name, it is relatively old, but in establishment, organisation, membership, policies, programmes, orientation and focus, it is new. If this is not understood, accepted by all and made the foundation and pillar of the political party, it will be starting on a very shaky foundation, and it will soon fall.
“I will advise others to join this political party platform to usher in a new dawn for Nigeria, but I may not be able to advise anybody to join PDP or APC no matter what window-dressing reformation they may claim. Although PDP would seem to have realised its mistakes of its immediate past of the last eight years or so, its present evolution would, by itself, not give confidence to well-meaning Nigerians who are interested in a new Nigeria in the hands of God that will have leadership, governance, development and values within our culture as its guiding principles with the attributes of honesty, integrity, patriotism, love, unity, industry, incorruptibility, good neighbourliness, faithfulness, trust, courage and love and fear of God held aloft.
“PDP offered apology without disciplining those who set Nigeria on a course of ruin, and some of them are still holding leadership roles in their party. Nigerians may forgive, but Nigerians should never forget; otherwise, they will be suffering from amnesia, and the same ugliness may raise its head again.
“APC, as a political party, is still gloating and reveling in its unrepentant mis-governance of Nigeria and taking Nigerians for fools. There is neither remorse nor appreciation of what they are doing wrong. It is all arrant arrogance and insult upon injury for Nigerians.
“Whatever the leadership may personally claim, most Nigerians know that they, Nigerians, are poorer today than when APC came in, and Nigeria is more impoverished with our foreign loan jumping from $3.6 billion to over $18 billion to be paid by the present and future generations of Nigerians. The country is more divided than ever before because the leadership is playing the ethnic and religious game which is very unfortunate. And the country is more insecure and unsafe for everybody. It is a political party with two classes of membership.
“Before I leave this point, it is pertinent to make the point that PDP and APC are not actually made of men and women who are totally evil. There are sprinkles of good men and women out there and among them. But as political parties and the government they led or they are leading in the last 11 years, they have failed, and failure should neither be hoisted for embracement nor reinforced.
“What must be done is to take what is best from all to come together on a new alliance platform that will take us to the promised land. There must be basic and fundamental ground for change and for people to change. What is not desirable is to take the leprous hand of either PDP or APC as the instrument to clean Nigeria up. The clean fingers in either of them can and must be grafted to the clean hands of new entrants and participants to move up and move on, and that is what I understand the reinvigorated party platform is all about – change, new order, and progress.
“Nigerians must keep their eyes wide open, their ears quite attentive, their minds very clear, their hands very clean and must not remain dumb in the face of atrocities and impunities of the governors against the governed. Those who govern us at all levels must be made to realise that it is our collective rights and sovereignty that they hold in trust for us and to be used for the good of all of us and with all of us having interest and having a stake in how we are governed. It is our God-given right, and we must not allow the abuse of it. In the past, we have laid back, and we have been taken for a ride.
“How did we allow Nigeria to be run by K34 without a murmur? Of course, that was followed by the running of Nigeria by Ijaw nation with four women and now by kith and kin and we are still jubilant in the face of atrocities, insecurity, disasters, and degradation politically, economically and socially. When I was in school, tolerating what we have tolerated in the past twelve years with our tails within our legs like frightened dogs, we would be asking if we are collectively mesmerised and we needed to go to ‘Aro’ for mental or psychological examination.”
Obasanjo also called for a review of internal party democracy which he said had become very fraudulent given the last PDP presidential primaries where delegates got between $10,000 and $15,000 each.
He said the APC had not shown any better example as he called for the institution of direct primaries for choosing party candidates.
“The greatest lacuna in political party administration in Nigeria since the present dispensation is the ownership of the political party through regular contribution of the members of the party for the upkeep of the party. Worse still is what PDP has now accepted as part of its failure and disappointment of the nation which is looting government treasury to finance individual and party elections. Unfortunately, APC has followed suit.
“To curb corruption, primary elections should cease to be by delegates but by all card-carrying and financial members of the party within their constituencies. This will save lives as many people have died by being shepherded to a central location as delegates to vote at primaries. It also introduced corruption into the system. At one of the PDP primaries within the last eight years, one candidate distributed $10,000 per delegate, the one who distributed $15,000 per delegate won the primary. It was not necessarily on merit, but certainly, dollar talked.
“I was shocked when an insider in the PDP told me that the amount of money the party used for 2015 elections would be in the neighbourhood of $3 billion. It was all directly or indirectly from the government treasury.
“The change we expect to be forthcoming, realistic and effective, will have to come from all of us – citizens, political parties, executive, legislature, judiciary and electoral organisations. We must stop the blame game and must all realise that Nigeria will be as good as we all make it to be- a good, effective, efficient, performing, equitable, fair, just, peaceful, secure, prosperous, united, wholesome and God-fearing country. I stand on the platform that change is possible and human beings are agents of change, and we have seen that in our country both for good and for ill. I remain positive and optimistic. If we believe we can, we will.
The former president also called for the scrapping of State Independent Electoral Commissions, SIECs whose affairs he said had become an infamous charade.
Spokesman of the APC, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi in his reaction to the assertion that the APC was fooling Nigerians said: “It is not the first time that President Obasanjo will be saying things in that direction and as an elder statesman he is entitled to his opinion, but even as a statesman not every Nigerian will agree with him.”
On Oyinlola’s exit from the APC, he said: It is within any body’s right to decide as to which political party he will associate with even though as a body we are not happy losing him or anybody.
Meanwhile Oyinlola, yesterday resigned his membership of both the APC and as chairman of the National Identity Management Commission, NIMC the body responsible for issuing the national identity card to Nigerians.
Oyinlola, in his letter of resignation from the board of NIMC addressed to President Buhari said the decision was to enable him chart a new course outside the APC and avoid conflict of interest.
He said: “Sir, I write to resign my appointment as the chairman of National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) with effect from today, 9th May, 2018.
“Your Excellency, I must put on record my very deep sense of appreciation for the special privilege and consideration you gave me to serve our fatherland in that capacity.
“As I stated in my appreciation letter to you shortly after the appointment, the offer was a clear call to service.
“I gave the job the dedication it deserved and would have loved to continue but I regret to inform Your Excellency that I have a new, greater political engagement that will make that difficult and even impolitic.
“Sir, as one of my bosses in the army, I believe you would understand my stand given recent political developments.
“The training I got as a decorated officer and gentleman precluded me from engaging in any act that could amount to disloyalty and conflict of interest.
“I am moving on to chart a new course in my politics outside the ruling party and this thus, demands my dropping the NIMC chairmanship…”