Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has suggested the creation of a new political movement to oust President Muhammadu Buhari from office in 2019, saying the president, whom he supported during the 2015 election, has failed and lacks what it takes to take country out of the woods.
In a statement released on Tuesday, where he asked Mr Buhari not to consider seeking re-election in 2019, the former president said since the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the main opposition, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have failed the country, concerned Nigerians should rise and form a third option capable of leading the country towards the path of recovery.
“I have had occasion in the past to say that the two main political parties – APC and PDP – were wobbling. I must reiterate that nothing has happened to convince me otherwise. If anything, I am reinforced in my conviction,” the octogenarian wrote.
“If neither APC nor PDP is a worthy horse to ride to lead Nigeria at this crucial and critical time, what then do we do? Remember Farooq Kperogi, an Associate Professor at the Kennesaw State University, Georgia, United States, calls it ‘a cruel Hobson’s choice; it’s like a choice between six and half a dozen, between evil and evil. Any selection or deflection would be a distinction without a difference.’ We cannot just sit down lamenting and wringing our hands desperately and hopelessly.”
Mr. Obasanjo said the present situation in the country is similar to what prevailed at the outset of the present republic in 1999. He recalled that at that time, the country was saved of what looked like sure damnation because every Nigerian joined hands in a single resolve to roll back the slide.
He therefore called for such concerted effort as was displayed in 1999 to save the country from its current nosedive.
“Wherever I go, I hear Nigerians complaining, murmuring in anguish and anger,” the former president said. “But our anger should not be like the anger of the cripple. We can collectively save ourselves from the position we find ourselves.
“It will not come through self-pity, fruitless complaint or protest but through constructive and positive engagement and collective action for the good of our nation and ourselves and our children and their children. We need moral re-armament and engaging togetherness of people of like-mind and goodwill to come solidly together to lift Nigeria up.
“This is no time for trading blames or embarking on futile argument and neither should we accept untenable excuses for non-performance.”
He said the APC and the Buhari administration had proven that they do not have what is required to take the nation out of its economic situations, which he said has resulted in an increase in reported cases of suicide.
He also dismissed his former party, the PDP as being incapable of turning the tide adding that nothing much was to be expected from them.
“Let us accept that the present administration has done what it can do to the limit of its ability, aptitude and understanding,” he continued. “Let the administration and its political party platform agree with the rest of us that what they have done and what they are capable of doing is not good enough for us. They have given as best as they have and as best as they can give.
“Nigeria deserves and urgently needs better than what they have given or what we know they are capable of giving. To ask them to give more will be unrealistic and will only sentence Nigeria to a prison term of four years if not destroy it beyond the possibility of an early recovery and substantial growth. Einstein made it clear to us that doing the same thing and expecting a different result is the height of folly.
“Already, Nigerians are committing suicide for the unbearable socio-economic situation they find themselves in. And yet Nigerians love life. We must not continue to reinforce failure and hope that all will be well. It is self-deceit and self-defeat and another aspect of folly.
“What has emerged from the opposition has shown no better promise from their antecedents. As the leader of that Party for eight years as President of Nigeria, I can categorically say there is nothing to write home about in their new team.
“We have only one choice left to take us out of Egypt to the promised land. And that is the coalition of the concerned and the willing – ready for positive and drastic change, progress and involvement. Change that will give hope and future to all our youth and dignity and full participation to all our women.”
Mr Obasanjo then called for a third force which must put the youth of the country at the forefront in the struggle to rescue the country from the muck it is enmeshed in.
“Our youth should be empowered to deploy their ability to learn, innovate and work energetically at ideas and concepts in which they can make their own original inputs. Youth must be part of the action today and not relegated to leadership of tomorrow which may never come. Change that will mean enhancement of living standard and progress for all. A situation where the elected will accountably govern and every Nigerian will have equal opportunity not based on kinship and friendship but based on free citizenship.
“Democracy is sustained and measured not by leaders doing extra-ordinary things, (invariably, leaders fail to do ordinary things very well), but by citizens rising up to do ordinary things extra-ordinarily well.
“Our democracy, development and progress at this juncture require ordinary citizens of Nigeria to do the extra-ordinary things of changing the course and direction of our lackluster performance and development. If leadership fails, citizens must not fail and there lies the beauty and importance of democracy. We are challenged by the current situation; we must neither adopt spirit of cowardice nor timidity let alone impotence but must be sustained by courage, determination and commitment to say and do and to persist until we achieve upliftment for Nigeria.
“Nothing ventured, nothing gained and we believe that our venturing will not be in vain. God of Nigeria has endowed this country adequately and our non-performance cannot be blamed on God but on leadership. God, who has given us what we need and which is potentially there, will give us leadership enablement to actualize our potentiality.”
Mr Obasanjo then christened the third force he hoped will wrest power from the APC and the PDP, Coalition for Nigeria (CN). He said CN need not necessarily be a political party but rather it should be a movement for democracy, good governance, and progress.
He then offered himself as part of this movement that would “salvage and redeem [the] country.” He however, said he would break link with the movement if it decides to become a political party because of his avowed non-partisanship.
“Last time, we asked, prayed and worked for change and God granted our request. This time, we must ask, pray and work for change with unity, security and progress. And God will again grant us. Of course, nothing should stop such a Movement from satisfying conditions for fielding candidates for elections.
“This Coalition for Nigeria will be a Movement that will drive Nigeria up and forward. It must have a pride of place for all Nigerians, particularly for our youth and our women. It is a coalition of hope for all Nigerians for speedy, quality and equal development, security, unity, prosperity and progress. It is a coalition to banish poverty, insecurity and despair.
“Our country must not be oblivious to concomitant danger around, outside and ahead. Coalition for Nigeria must be a Movement to break new ground in building a united country, a socially-cohesive and moderately prosperous society with equity, equality of opportunity, justice and a dynamic and progressive economy that is self-reliant and takes active part in global division of labour and international decision-making.
“The Movement must work out the path of development and the trajectory of development in speed, quality and equality in the short- medium- and long-term for Nigeria on the basis of sustainability, stability, predictability, credibility, security, cooperation and prosperity with diminishing inequality. What is called for is love, commitment and interest in our country, not in self, friends and kinship alone but particularly love, compassion and interest in the poor, underprivileged and downtrodden. It is our human duty and responsibility so to do. Failure to do this will amount to a sin against God and a crime against humanity,” he said.