Without doubt, Dr. Olusegun Obasanjo (OBJ) is an important witness to the Nigerian history. He is also known to often speak his mind, whether good or bad. But ignoring him is at one’s own peril. That is why the controversy trailing his recent open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari may never subside.
To start, Obasanjo has good intentions in declaring that things are not going well in Nigeria and that there is a need for real change. In short, the letter is similar to the one he wrote to the erstwhile sitting president, Goodluck Jonathan, which was then hailed by those of us in the All Progressive Congress (APC). Even Buhari himself commended Obasanjo at the time, saying that, “No right-thinking Nigerian will choose to ignore the appalling descent to anarchy that Nigeria” was experiencing under Jonathan. Hence those now criticising Obasanjo’s admonition to Buhari need to have a serious rethink.
To continue, the Abeokuta born ex-president was damn forthright in inferring that Muhammadu Buhari might have saved Nigeria by being able to dislodge the corrupt empire under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Obasanjo was equally very candid in his remark that Buhari has shown a measurable improvement on the war against corruption among other accomplishments. Furthermore, he was objective in stating that President Buhari is performing below expectations overall. Very tellingly, he is patriotic in insisting that President Buhari is neither in a good state of health nor has the capacity to pilot the affairs of the nation and thus needs to exhaust his tenure and retire with some sense of dignity in 2019.
More relatively, OBJ has good intentions in he mooting the need for a Third Force to rescue Nigeria. To him, the two major political parties, APC and PDP, only differ in name. But Obasanjo’s action on the Third Force might have become a poisoned chalice.
Even if Obasanjo decides to walk away in the event that the movement metamorphoses into a political party, as he alluded to, the other political figures in the movement are likely to stay put, thereby occasioning the emergence of another strong party in Nigeria. That will be a big blow to the country.
In the first instance, although Obasanjo insists that the Third Force will remain as an ordinary movement, its stated objectives clearly mirror that of a political party. Even if Obasanjo decides to walk away in the event that the movement metamorphoses into a political party, as he alluded to, the other political figures in the movement are likely to stay put, thereby occasioning the emergence of another strong party in Nigeria. That will be a big blow to the country.
A multiplicity of political parties is not good for Nigeria’s turbulent democracy. It only goes to weaken opposition activity. That explains why most political insiders (including the two most reliable barometers of the military opinion: Obasanjo himself and Ibrahim Babangida) have never failed to quip that Nigeria’s history with a weak opposition, had not only contributed to past leadership crisis but also created the opportunities of the military takeover of government.
Accordingly, instead of a new political party, all hands ought to be on deck in strengthening the two major parties, thereby producing strong opposition activity by consequence. The problem with the two major parties has nothing to do with their ideologies or manifestoes. The problem is an ageless minority in position of leadership of the two parties, whose only raison d’être of being in politics is to engage in corrupt practices. But guess what, the masses are in the majority.
The Third Force, therefore, should emerge and operate as a change agent within the two major parties. Its goal should be to provoke a power shift to the masses, including new breed politicians and the youth, who are not part and parcel of Nigeria’s shameless corrupt oligarchy. Jumping from one party to another does not demonstrate good leadership. True leaders do not run away in the midst of crisis; they stay to make things better.
In the second place, the gallery at Obasanjo’s launch of the Third Force, aka, Coalition for Nigeria Movement (CNM), might have effortlessly ruptured the balloon of public goodwill that followed OBJ’s salvo to Buhari, which was initially inflated by a cocktail of desires for true change. With a possible exception of very few individuals, the premier of the Third Force was a confluence of the ageless politicians that combined to ruin Nigeria. Unbelievable!
Be that as it may, Obasanjo’s letter urging President Buhari not to seek re-election in 2019 is commendable. But the Ota farmer must ensure that the emergent change is positive. The desired change starts with the practice of internal party democracy within the two major parties. True change must embrace a new breed of leaders, particularly the youth, who have the zeal and the competencies to cope with the demands of the 21st century. Such leaders must not be part of the status quo. Nigeria direly needs leaders with the moral audacity to demonstrate the consequences of bad behaviour, without minding whose ox is gored.
SKC Ogbonnia, an APC presidential aspirant, can be reached via SKCOgbonnia1@aol.com.