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 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 rightthinking
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 expresident
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.

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