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‘Third Force’: Getting it right


Olusegun Obasanjo

There are very few Nigerians who have the courage of former President Olusegun Obasanjo. Perhaps, as a retired army general, it is superfluous to call him a courageous man.

Obasanjo’s courage has been tested in the battlefield of war and in politics, where he has never been shy about airing his views on national issues and assessing the performance of his successors in office.

This courage once again manifested itself in a recent ‘Special Press Statement’ he released to the public. Obasanjo in the press statement assessed the Buhari administration and gave a damning verdict. He accused Buhari of gross nepotism, buck-passing, and condoning corruption when it comes too close to home. He advised Buhari to perish the thought of seeking re-election in 2019 and dismount from the horse of leadership for another rider.

But the highest point of Obasanjo’s statement, however, was the call on patriotic Nigerians to band together to save the country from its current woes, since the APC and the PDP are same sides of a bad coin.

A “Coalition for Nigeria”, as Obasanjo called the Interventionist Movement will most likely transmute into a political party and challenge the two major parties in the country for power in the 2019 general elections since the objectives Obasanjo set for the Movement cannot be accomplished without political power.

Already, names of potential members are being bandied about, with many of the names being disaffected members of the ruling All Progressives Congress and the main opposition party, the People Democratic Party. This, thus, makes Obasanjo’s clarion call an action replay of the political activities that gave birth to the APC in 2013.

The APC, as it is well known, emerged as an amalgam of disparate politicians, appalled by the poor performance of the PDP and united by a common goal to oust the party from power. This goal was the magic ingredient in the union of hitherto rival politicians. But no sooner had the goal been achieved than things began to fall apart. So bad have things fallen within the party that it is afraid of convoking a national convention before the 2019 general elections for fears of exacerbating the already bad situation.

The striking parallel between Obasanjo’s emerging ‘Third Force’, as the Movement has been designated and the emergence of the APC in 2013, therefore, makes it vulnerable to a similar fate. For one, the Movement looks like a means to an end; and that end is the attainment of power. Little wonder that potpourris of politicians who have lost out in the power game are itching to be members of the Movement. But what Obasanjo envisages, according to the content of his statement, is a Movement that will be remarkably different from the six of one and half a dozen of the other that the two major parties in the country represent.

It is, therefore, pertinent that the Movement, if it morphs into a political party, must be diametrically different from the two major parties in the country. It must be rooted in an unambiguous political ideology to stand out from the crowd, as a political ideology gives a political party a distinct identity and shapes the political behavior of its members. To this end, a political think tank should be set up to advise which political ideology is best suited for the party.

The party must also avoid the menace of godfatherism plaguing political parties in the country. After the necessary paperwork with INEC, the party should embark on a nationwide membership registration and the party should be funded with members’ dues. This will ensure accountability and put the party in the hands of the people. All dues-paying members should be eligible to vote in the party’s primaries, as this will make the primaries fully democratic, unlike the delegate system that is fraught with abuse.

The nation’s women and youths must be accorded great importance by allocating to them 60-per cent of all elective positions in the party. Also, the Expression of Interest form to be the party’s candidate for any public office should attract a discount for women and youths. This will engender a sense of belonging and active participation of all in the affairs of the party.

Lastly, the party must have a well-drawn-up manifesto, expatiating what it hopes to achieve if elected by the electorate. The manifesto must be available in indigenous languages and be made accessible to all. Also, the party should only field candidates of high intellectual magnitude, moral rectitude, and unblemished antecedents.

Nigeria at this juncture needs an alternative political party no doubt. But it must be a party that is wholly different from the plethora of political parties in the country. Like Obasanjo, quoting Einstein, said in his statement, “Einstein made it clear to us that doing the same thing and expecting a different result is the height of folly.” It will indeed be sheer folly if things are done the same way with the hope of a different result.

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