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10022018 - 2019 : How we'll stop Buhari - Opposition parties

Vanguard Newspaper 10 january 2018

10—SATURDAY Vanguard,

10—SATURDAY Vanguard, FEBRUARY 10, , 2018 2019: How we will stopBuhari Buhari, APC —Opposition parties •Vow to repeat 2015 scenario •Buy into Third Force •It’s a rescue mission —CNM •APC responds gamely •Obasanjo •Agbakoba 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 The CCPP also resolved to jointly discuss and proffer solutions to key national issues threatening the peace and unity of our dear country. party beat an incumbent party. Will t h e y succeed? •Atiku P a s t alliances 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 •Lamido 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. Continues on pg 11

2019: How we will stop Buhari, APC—Opposition parties Continues from pg 10 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 nonelective 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- 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 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 •Tanko •Dankwambo 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) SATURDAY Vanguard, FEBRUARY 10, , 2018—11 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, onevote.’’ 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 sociopolitical advocacy group, Path-finders Nigeria Initiative, PNI, urged Nigerians, Continues from pg 12