The former President Olusegun Obasanjo-championed Coalition for Nigeria Movement was formally inaugurated on Wednesday in Abuja, with the movement lambasting the Federal Government over “the rising unemployment, insecurity and absence of credible socio-economic programmes” in the country.
The coalition, which was proposed in an open letter written by Obasanjo to President Muhammadu Buhari, noted that despite the country being in the woods, there seemed to be no well thought-out programme of action by the government.
The former President had in an open letter on January 24, advised President Buhari not to contest the 2019 general elections.
The former President, who insisted that the two prominent parties — the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party — would not take the country to its desired prosperous destination, thereafter proposed a coalition which would drive Nigerians to make positive choices during elections.
On Wednesday, the Obasanjo-inspired coalition was formally inaugurated, distributing branded T-Shirts and caps to the attendants.
The coalition said its membership was open to “all Nigerians of 18 years old and above.”
One of our correspondents observed that although Obasanjo was conspicuously absent, a former governor of Osun State, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, and a former governor of Cross Rivers State, Donald Duke, were the two dignitaries at the inauguration.
More than 300 participants squeezed together in the hall used for the event.
Oyinlola, also a former Lagos State military governor, who made the chief remarks at the inauguration, said it was unfortunate that despite the myriads of challenges being faced by Nigerians, the Federal Government did not have a well-thought plan of action.
Oyinlola said, “Youth unemployment has hit the roof. Every year, we produce millions of graduates who will soon realise that the country has no place for them. The devil will always find one horrible job or the other for the idle hands. The youths who manage to have jobs are not guaranteed their salaries at the end of the month. Even companies in the private sector are facing very difficult times with very great effects on their employees and their capacity to expand. Every sensible person knows that there is trouble ahead unless something urgent is done.”
The former governor noted that the coalition agreed that they as former leaders were part of the problems of Nigeria, but offering solutions at the present was not an improper decision.
“It is in our plan of action to democratically build and enthrone a new set of youthful and knowledgeable leadership for this country. We shall have offices and elected officers in every ward, Local Government Areas, states and in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
“The membership of the movement is open to all Nigerians of voting age. On funding, it is our belief that the money to run its affairs will come from the contributions of members at each level. The movement must not belong to a moneybag somewhere. That is the only way we do not end up as the problems we set out to solve.”
During a question-and-answer session after Oyinlola’s speech, one of the participants asked if the coalition was not trying to legitimise Obasanjo’s legacy.
Oyinlola replied, “To say that we are legitimising Obasanjo’s legacy is a bit off the mark.”
The former governor, who is also the Chairman of the National Identity Management Commission, also noted that if his present Federal Government’s appointment would collide with the interests of the coalition, he would relief himself of the appointment.
But the APC has said the prospect of a coalition ahead of the 2019 general elections does not constitute a threat worth worrying about.
The National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, said this in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents, in Abuja, on Wednesday.
Abdullahi said, “The prospect of a coalition does not threaten the APC at all. The only threat we can begin to worry about lies with the Nigerian people.
“If it is about competition for power, how many political parties do we have? That is enough reason for us to worry about competition. If another coalition is set up for the purpose of winning power good luck to them, that is the essence of constitutional democracy, a multi-party system thrives in that kind of situation.
“So, we don’t feel any threat, we don’t feel concerned they are welcome to the field.”