By Dirisu Yakubu & Joseph Erunke
Chieftains of the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) have continued to advance reasons for coming together to fight “a common enemy” in the 2019 general elections. On Monday, a coalition of 39 political parties converged in Abuja to sign a memorandum of understanding that would see them field a joint Presidential Candidate in 2019 to confront the All Progressives Congress (APC) likely candidate, President Muhammadu Buhari.
For Alhaji Buba Galadima, national chairman of the Reformed All Progressives Congress (R-APC), Buhari’s inability to make a positive difference in the lives of Nigerians three years after taking over the reins of government, informed the decision of his group to join the CUPP in its bid to form a government of national unity.
Galadima, a long-time associate of the President is not only worried by what he called the lack of vision for a nation struggling to catch up with the rest of the world but also by what he personally “knows” about the retired Army General. According to Galadima, he has access to what perhaps not many Nigerians know about their President. All these, according to him, make the re-election of Buhari and the continuation of the APC administration a disservice to the nation beyond 2019.
He said, “He (Buhari) is a military general, but we know him and you know that I know him. If I were him and if I were his advisers, I would advise him not to attempt to contest. I have my reasons. If what I know, if what I have access to and I know; I assure you that General Buhari not only will lose the election but will lose his deposit.”
The R-APC boss is equally not happy that a government that got elected on the strength of its anti-corruption credentials would, in his words, be thinking of offering carrots to willing pawns ahead of the polls, in a bid to brighten its chances, saying “They are thinking of setting aside public money which they accused others of using during elections for this purpose, warning that alternatively they might “use the big stick because you know a desperate person can do anything. He can kill if he has power, he can arrest and detain but whichever one they choose, we are prepared to lay down our lives to save our nation.”
On his part, Barrister Godson Okoye of the United Democratic Party (UDP), the need to secure freedom for Nigerians is the sole reason to align forces with other parties to rescue Nigerians from the grip of the APC-led government of President Buhari.
“Rescue Nigeria is a task that must be done. We are in a serious project and the project is to guarantee freedom of choice,” said Okoye, who added that “until the rights of the people are guaranteed, there will be no end to the crises and bloodletting in the country.”
Taking a slightly different position was Chief Peter Ameh, national chairman of the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA). Ameh said in all development indices, the nation has never witnessed more perilous times like in the past three years, stating that the only thing left for good-spirited Nigerians to do, was to speak up and ‘dare the lion in his den.’ His words: “We cannot keep quiet over this backwardness and decadence we have suffered in the past three years. That is why we have come to join other groups to salvage this country in 2019 because the level of insecurity in the country today is worrisome.”
For Yunusa Tanko, national chairman of the National Conscience Party (NCP), the decision to take his party into the grand coalition was based on the understanding that all parties to the MOU would be treated as equals regardless of their sizes and spread.
He told this medium: “We are working together as equal partners and none of us is being treated in a master-slave relationship,” even as he questioned President Buhari’s leadership qualities. “A leader”, he said, “is one who has the interest of others at heart. I can’t say we’ve had this in the past few years.”
Although, some eminent Nigerians have said the grand-coalition is seen as a plot capable of leading to a change of government next year, spokesperson of the Presidential Muhammadu Buhari Campaign Organization, Barrister Festus Keyamo has dismissed CUPP as a group with little mileage.