Former governor of Osun State and a leader of the Coalition for Nigeria Movement, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, has opened up on why people of like minds, came together to challenge Nigeria’s current leadership structure headed by President Muhammadu Buhari.
In this exclusive interview with Saturday Sun, Oyinlola said the launch of the coalition, initiated recently by former President Olusegun Obasanjo has revealed that Nigerians deserve a new democratic political direction in the country.
The former Military Administrator of Lagos State and Prince of Okuku said: “We are serious minded people working for Nigeria and in the interest of all. We want to see a Nigeria where everyone has a stake and the young ones have work to do. We want a Nigeria where there will be no shedding of the blood of the innocent again.”
Too many ugly things, Oyinlola noted, “are happening across the country that cannot make any normal human being happy. The need to change that narrative is what has informed what we are doing,” the retired Army Colonel declared. He spoke on this and other issues surrounding the movement, including the role of former President Olusegun Obasanjo in this exchange with AIDOGHIE PAULINUS.
Having launched the Coalition for Nigeria Movement, what kind of feeling do you have at the moment?
With the positive response we have been receiving across the country since we launched the movement last week, we feel convinced that truly, Nigeria deserves a new democratic political direction.
The launch of the coalition came immediately after the letter written by former President Olusegun Obasanjo to President Muhammadu Buhari. Does it mean that the plan had been in the pipeline?
Not really. You know when Baba Obasanjo released his statement and he suggested a national movement of patriots across all divides to reset our politics and the way we do things in this country, some of us saw it as a challenge which we took. And you know a rat that has a path won’t miss its way. Some of us have been around for some time, enough to network with like-minds across the country. What you saw on the day of the launch was put together within a week.
Is there any correlation between your movement and the Red Card Movement of former Education Minister, Dr Oby Ezekwesili?
No. The two are different. We are studying them and their objectives. If the development of the country is also their goal and there are sincere moves to work with us, we won’t mind to. They are all great men and women of nationalist ideas. They are patriots.
What informed your decision to be part of the Coalition for Nigeria Movement?
I have said so that I will always be part of any genuine effort to make Nigeria work. The country has progressed and is progressing, but we feel it can be better with the right energy channelled to the right objectives. I see the CNM as a fresh breath which Nigeria needs.
With you in the movement, are you still a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC)?
Oh! Yes, I am.
If the focus of the movement is to redirect the leadership of the country from older generation to younger generation, does that not contradict the position of your party to give it to President Buhari?
Has the president said he is re-contesting? Has he?
You are holding events here and there and that has some financial implication. So, how is the movement being funded?
Each member bears his costs. No sacrifice is too much for us to make in the service of the country.
What is the position of former President Olusegun Obasanjo in the movement? Is he the founder, leader or financier?
He is an ordinary member like you if you decide to join us. The entire members of the movement at each level will decide who leads it. Those of us you see are just midwifing the movement. The midwife is not the owner of the child. He is just a helper in the labour room.
Are you not afraid that the government your movement has set in panic mood could come after you? Are you not afraid of your life?
Why should we be afraid to do what the constitution allows us to do? We are in a democracy. In any case, we are not fighting the government. We are just exercising our freedom of association and the right to hold political views.
Will the movement metamorphose into a political party or align with one of the existing parties?
The ultimate goal of the movement is to develop a new set of young, knowledgeable leaders for this country. We have been around for sometime and no matter how successful you are; if you do not have a successor generation that is better than you, you are a failure. Nigeria must not become a failed state. And if it won’t, we must work hard now to reinvent it with the energy of the younger generation.
Now, to your question on whether CNM will become a political party. It is too early to answer that question, but I can assure you that we will support carefully identified progressive candidates at all levels on whatever platform.
What if President Buhari eventually emerges as president, where will you hide your face? And what will be the fate of the movement?
This process is not an ego contest. We are not on an ego trip. We are serious minded people working for Nigeria and in the interest of all. We want to see a Nigeria where everyone has a stake and the young ones have work to do. We want a Nigeria where there will be no shedding of the blood of the innocent again. Too many ugly things are happening across the country that cannot make any normal human being happy. The need to change that narrative is what has informed what we are doing. So, the question of ego or hiding or not hiding face does not arise. Just wait and see.