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ANALYSIS: Is the new political movement dead on arrival?

ANALYSIS: Is the new political movement dead on arrival?
July 04
11:53 2020

An attempt at a third force seemed to have died upon arrival. Less than 24 hours after it was introduced to the public, those identified as its pillars have denied their involvement in the group. This new political forum, named the National Consultative Front (NCF), was meant to be a revolutionary group whose birth would herald reforms and “save the country from its current trajectory” as Nigeria goes into elections in 2023.

In a communique issued on Wednesday, the group said it had embarked on “historic national consultations” ahead of its inauguration later in July. The movement boasted of being the counterforce to the “current politics of moneybags, highest bidders and the cash and carry harakiri prevalent under the mercantilist ruling elites in Nigeria”.

Among those listed as members were Ghali Na’abba, a former speaker of the house of representatives; Olisa Agbakoba, a senior lawyer; Femi Falana, also a prominent lawyer; Obadiah Mailafia, ex-deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and Oby Ezekwesili.

Others are Umar Dangiwa, Jibo Ibrahim, Chidi Odinkalu, Shehu Sani, a former senator; Remi Sonaiya, former presidential candidate; Tanko Yinusa, Shettima Yerima and Funke Awolowo. Most names paraded in the “counterforce” were known and catchy — if not enviable.

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“The men and women who will save the nation from the throes of misery have come,” some excited Nigerians chorused on social media. But there was another group that kept its legs crossed and jaws closed to monitor what will happen next as the announcement of a “counterforce” didn’t elicit any surprise. They have seen them coming and going several seasons.

FOUNDATION SHATTERING LIKE A PACK OF BADLY ARRANGED CARDS?

Agbakoba: Count me out of this movement

By the next morning, Agbakoba fired the first salvo, distancing himself from the movement. The renowned lawyer had said he was not consulted. Hours later, Dangiwa followed suit. Like Agbakoba, he also said he was never consulted before his name was included among the promoters of the new movement. The retired army colonel, who was detained for opposing the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, has been fearless in challenging the powers that be.

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As though that wasn’t enough, Falana said he wasn’t consulted too. While he applauded those behind the initiative, he made it clear that he is not among them. Shehu Sani was also reported to have stated that he was not consulted before his name was included.

Based on the current situation, these questions need answers: who fathered this child? Didn’t the communique state that there was a “historic nationwide consultation”? It even added that it will ensure that “mistakes are not repeated and risks can be easily mitigated in the growth and expansion of the new movement”.

WILL THIS BABY SURVIVE?

Falana: I wasn’t consulted

In the build-up to the 2019 general election, there was the formation of the “third force” movement. Donald Duke, a former governor of Cross River, and Olagunsoye Oyinlola, former governor of Osun, were some of the prominent members of the group, which had the endorsement of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

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At the inauguration of the Oyo state chapter of the movement, Obasanjo told the members to know that in the struggle to redeem Nigeria, they would be threatened.

He asked them to be focused and determined, stating that only cowards run away from the war front.

The force Obasanjo supported was no match for President Muhammadu Buhari in the 2019 election

“Everybody must be determined to rescue Nigeria. It may not be easy, however, the God who performed wonders sometime ago, will again perform wonders. We have [seen] in this country, where five political parties endorsed a single person and God was laughing and knew what he would do. If we are leaving everything to God, we must do our best. Get your PVCs and encourage others,” he had said.

“Take note, they will threaten you, but don’t be discouraged. It is only cowards who run away from the war front. Having gone this far, I won’t leave you dry. Get your PVC. I don’t think anybody can threaten me again. Remember, I have been to prison for an offence I do not know anything about.”

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But the movement outlived its usefulness long before the voters went to the polls.

In a similar manner, some presidential candidates mulled the idea of uniting against the powers that be by producing a consensus candidate for the 2019 election. Among the notable names mentioned then were Fela Durotoye, Kingsley Moghalu and Omoyele Sowore.

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The alliance between Durotoye, Moghalu and Sowore didn’t last the mile. The idea was expanded such that 18 presidential hopefuls came together under Presidential Aspirants Coming Together (PACT) alliance. But just as election was about to be conducted to decide the consensus candidate, Sowore pulled out, saying he was never a part of the coalition. After the exit of Sowore, more candidates pulled out but the election still held and Durotoye emerged the winner.

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But hours after the exercise that produced Durotoye, Moghalu, who was part of the exercise, rejected the outcome and announced that his presidential ambition was still on course. The coalition collapsed before the general election.

Taking a cursory look at the communique issued on Wednesday, the promoters of the new political movement made it clear that the initiative is expected to transform fully into a mega political party by June 2021.

But given current happenings, it is pertinent to ask if this new movement will survive and deliver its mandate of creating a new Nigeria that works for all or it will be abandoned like a stone at the bottom of a lake.

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