• Holds inaugural meeting in Ondo
… You stole our name, idea, group accuses ex-president
Laide Raheem, Abeokuta; Godwin Tsa, Abuja; Bamigbola Gbolagunte, Akure
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, yesterday, said his envisioned Coalition for Nigeria Movement (CNM) is not a ‘third force’ as being touted, but a popular movement to accommodate all Nigerians, irrespective of their political interests, to propel Nigeria forward.
Obasanjo, who sounded confident that the movement would spearhead processes, programmes, policies and priorities to make Nigeria great, both in West Africa sub-region and Africa as a whole, equally said the CNM would mobilise membership across the country and in the Diaspora.
He said although members of the movement are free to collectively decide whether CNM becomes a political party, he would abandon the movement any day it goes into partisan politics.
The former president spoke at the registration and launch of CNM at Iwe Irohin Press Centre, Oke Ilewo, Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.
Obasanjo, accompanied by the former governors of Cross River and Osun states, Donald Duke and Olagunsoye Oyinlola, respectively, two-time Ogun State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate, Gboyega Isiaka, former minister of State for Defence, Mrs. Modupe Adelaja and top politicians from the All Progressives Congress (APC) and PDP, was later decorated with the official emblem of the movement by Duke.
Youth organisations, pressure groups, some professional bodies and members of the civil society, also attended the event.
Speaking further, Obasanjo, who expressed his joy at the launch of the movement in Abuja, on Wednesday, said his letter to President Muhammadu Buhari last week, was not out of frivolity, but out of deep concern for the situation in the country.
He said: “If the instruments we have used, so far, in our nation-building and governance since independence have not served us well, it is imperative that we should have a rethink and retool.”
Obasanjo, who said Nigeria, like other nations, has various challenges, emphasised the coalition is to mobilise Nigerians for peace, unity, security, stability, love, welfare and well-being of vulnerable Nigerians, particularly the youths and women, who, according to him, have been victims and underlings.
He mentioned disrespect for the federal character as espoused in the country’s constitution, spate of killings and violence in Nigeria and the parlous nature of Nigeria’s economy under President Buhari’s administration, as some of the reasons for the coalition.
“Let me emphasise important areas, programmes, priorities or processes for improved attention. To start with, we seem to have taken nation-building for granted. Nation-building must be given continued attention to give every citizen a feeling of belonging. For instance, the federal character principle, as espoused in our constitution, was to guide the leadership to search for competent holders of major offices to be distributed within the entire nation and avoid concentration in a few ethnic hands or geographical places as we currently have in the leadership of our security apparatus.
“Nobody or group should feel excluded. Inclusion and popular participation must be visibly pursued in terms of politics, economy and our overall social life. A Nigeria of hope, aspiration and assurances which belongs to all, with no sacred cow or sacrificial lamb is what we want,” Obasanjo said.
He urged those present at the event “to join the movement to build a new Nigeria that will be in the hands of God.”
Meanwhile, a group, Coalition for Nigeria (CN), has accused Obasanjo of stealing its name and idea by ‘criminally’ launching CNM, to achieve his third term ambition.
Speaking at a press conference yesterday, leader of the group, Sabo Odeh, described the Obasanjo-led coalition movement as a group of failed politicians and those who had made immense contributions towards wrecking Nigeria with a sprinkling of youths who have anger issues.
Odeh said: “Our coalition is not limited to creating a backdoor for retired and tired politicians to install puppets in government for the purpose of continuing to loot the treasury, while ruling by impunity, as experienced in the past. Obasanjo’s coalition movement seeks to do the exact opposite while leveraging on our credible name to sell its lies to Nigerians.
“Obasanjo’s coalition movement is a situation where old politicians, in their twilight, are manipulating youths to be incendiary. Our coalition is made up of Nigerians that yearn for a better country with the firm belief that the dismantling of the infrastructure for corruption is a necessary first step to ensure a solid foundation for a level playing field to all citizens.”
Regardless, the Obasanjo’s movement yesterday held its first meeting in Ondo State.
Prominent members of the PDP and APC, who were at the meeting held in Akure, the state capital, include Demola Ijabiyi, Mr. Oluwarotimi Akintoye, former deputy speaker of the state House of Assembly, Dare Emiola, former PDP State chairmen, Ebenezer Alabi, Biyi Poroye, Dr. Dare Bada, Sunday Menukuro and Kehinde Alabi.
Also at the meeting were APC chieftains like Jimi Adekanle and Mrs Kehinde Adeniran, among others. Addressing the gathering, Ijabiyi said the forum is not a political party yet, but a mass movement to salvage Nigerians from bondage.