By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
Dr. Olusegun Obasanjo has initiated a new dance aimed at revolutionising the political system and enthroning a new order he claims the two dominant parties are unable to produce. The prospects of his new initiative will be tested by his democracy credentials and the robust opposition of the existing order.
Few days after video clips of Dr. Olusegun Obasanjo dancing away supposedly in celebration of his attainment of a Ph.D., the former Nigerian leader last Thursday gave a literal interpretation of his new dancing steps.
Speaking in Abeokuta, Ogun State on Thursday when he registered for the new political movement he sparked only penultimate Tuesday, President Obasanjo said:
“This is the new message in town, the new dance in town, the ceremony in town and I will appeal to you to join this ceremony and dance in town,” Obasanjo told newsmen and the crowd that came for the formal unveiling of the Coalition for Nigeria Movement in Ogun State.
“When we were growing up, we were playing masquerades, but those were small masquerades, but when big masquerades come out, the small masquerade must come out. I appeal to you to join the ceremony, the dance and the message,” the former president said in his endorsement of the new group being formulated to break the hegemony of the country’s two major political parties, All Progressives Congress, APC and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
The day before in Abuja, the shape of that third force was first publicly unveiled as the leading personalities in the CNM came out. Interestingly, leading lights in the APC and the PDP were represented, indicating some measure of success for Obasanjo’s plea for men of conscience to come out from the two major parties towards a third force.
Among those from the APC who identified with the coalition were Col. Olagunsoye Oyinlola and former national secretary of the PDP, Engr. Buba Galadima, a one time alter ego of Buhari’s and also a member of the Board of Trustees, BoT of the APC. Among PDP chieftains present were erstwhile national chairman of the party, Col. Ahmadu Ali (rtd.), former Governor Donald Duke, former managing director of the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, Mr. Akin Oshuntokun, and a former presidential aspirant on the platform of the party, Dr. Abduljelil Tafawa Balewa.
Obasanjo remarkably was not present.
The outing by CNM inevitably gave verve to what many Nigerians believe could lead to an end of the domination of the polity by the PDP and the APC.
In his special press statement issued penultimate Tuesday, Dr. Obasanjo had called for the coalition which he said would give birth to a new Nigeria following the apparent disappointment with the change envisaged with the advent of the All Progressives Congress, APC.
“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,” Obasanjo had said in that statement in a plea to birth what he said was a third force.
The need for the third force was in the wake of the apparent disappointment with the major opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP which Obasanjo said was in the pockets of the group he claimed procured a favourable court judgment to draw the party from the Ali Modu Sheriff tendency.
That hope has been strengthened by efforts by related groups like the Nigeria Intervention Movement, NIM and some other less known political parties to congregate against the hegemony of the APC and the PDP.
Remarkably, the smaller political parties like the Alliance for New Nigeria, ANN have been holding talks among themselves towards evolving a new political alliance.
It is not surprising that the determination of those behind the Third Force has sent shudders down the spine of the APC and the PDP.
A week after Obasanjo released his special statement, President Buhari it was gathered, instructed his aides to ensure that they do not respond negatively to the former president. The PDP on its part has also sought to portray the Third Force as an irritant which it fears could hamper its plans to mobilise Nigerians against the foibles of the ruling APC.
However, given the challenges of mobilising resources to counter the establishment, there are doubts in some quarters as to the capacity of those behind the Third Force having enough resources to confront the APC and the PDP.
A similar move though on a smaller scale to push the third force to counter the hegemony of the APC and the PDP championed by the late Dr. Samuel Ogbemudia before the Edo State governorship election in 2016 collapsed. The failure of Ogbemudia’s EMM was mainly on account of what some insiders allege as the overwhelming resources mobilised by the state against the movement.
Ogbemudia had formed the Edo Mass Movement, EMM with structures all across the state, but was unable to get traction mainly on account of lack of resources.
With another general in the person of Dr. Obasanjo establishing another third force, albeit, with outreaches across the country, eyes are looking whether the move can again be frustrated by resources or whether the sheer will of the people to force a change would overwhelm the hegemony of the two major parties.