Indications have emerged that the Coalition for Nigeria Movement (CNM), said to have been formed by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, may have been rejected by politicians in Nigeria. Weeks after the inauguration of the movement in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), checks across the six geo-political zones show that Obasanjo has a long journey ahead to make impact on who he thinks could become the country’s president in 2019.
In Lagos State, the CNM is yet to become visible, neither can a specific individual be pointed as the coalition’s henchman.
However, a different coalition, the National Intervention Movement (NIM), being spearheaded by a former national president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Dr Olisa Agbakoba, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), is mobilising tremendously among youths and civil right organisations in the state. Being the home of Nigeria’s civil activism and mass movement struggle, NIM organisers, who have repeatedly called themselves the authentic “third force” as against Obasanjo’s CNM, have used Lagos to mobilise large followership of youths who now register online to be members.
But despite continuous denials, sources who understand the workings of the NIM confirmed that there were plans to meet Obasanjo on possible ways of harmonising the goals of the two groups.
Already, Agbakoba, who is the arrowhead, is said to have recently concluded “a global mobilisation” effort for the movement to enjoy international appeal.
A statement signed by the director of communication of the NIM, John Ekwuyasi, read, “Dr. Agbakoba is back in Nigeria following extensive consultations with both Nigerians in the Diaspora and a variety of global leaders desirous of seeing a secure Nigeria to re-attain democratic leadership in Africa and reliability as a member of the 21st century’s progressive international comity of nations.”
According to him, Agbakoba, accompanied by Dr. Abdul Jhalil Tafawa Balewa, NIM co-chairman, has since commenced further nationwide consultations with all like-minded Nigerian leaders and groups, with the intent of partnering in the creation of a “Super-Coalition of Groups and Parties determined to bring about real sustainable change to the present politico-economic status quo.”
In Benue State, the coalition is yet to open any office, but many people are already aware of the movement.
A respondent, James Ejiga, said he was aware and would support the activities of the coalition if it opened an office in the state so as to spite the All Progressives Congress (APC) administration, which, in his estimation, had failed Nigerians.
In Borno State, Obasanjo’s CNM seems unheard of among the majority. In practice, even if not in principle, no political or any other influential figure in the state seems to be associated in whatever form with the movement. And it has not opened its office yet in the state.
“You have just reminded me of it,” Umar Sanda, the youth leader of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) replied mockingly when Daily Trust on Sunday asked him.
“I don’t see how it will succeed because it departed from the tradition of forming successful coalitions set in 2014 when the coalition to oust the then President Goodluck Jonathan from power was made up of political parties and famous politicians like Kwankwaso, Murtala Nyako, Tinubu, Wamakko and many others.
“This Movement, right from its formation, has been just a mere pack of nonentities, and no percentage of even the governors, senators or representatives has shown any inkling of joining,” the opposition party youth leader said.
In Kano, the Obasanjo-led coalition has no office, and majority of the local politicians interviewed by our reporter were ignorant of the coalition.
Alhaji Ibrahim Sanusi Isa said, “I only heard about the coalition over the radio, and since then, I have not heard anything about it again. This is an indication that Obasanjo and those supporting him are not serious.”
Aminu Tukur Yakasai said, “It is high time Nigerians stopped entertaining anything that comes from Obasanjo because the old man is not serious at all. All he wants is to control the man at the centre (president) from outside, which is not possible.”
Yusuf Isyaku, a tea seller said, “I will not waste my time and energy listening to Obasanjo because he is the causative agent of the situation we found ourselves in today. What did he do during his time? Everybody is aware of the money this country got during Obasanjo’s regime; but what did he do with it?”
Checks in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, showed that the coalition had not yet opened any office, and there is no known point man at the moment.
Few people who claimed to have known the coalition said they read about it in the media.
Speaking to our correspondent about the coalition in Yenagoa, chairman of the Civil Liberty Organisation in Bayelsa State, Chief Nengi James, said he read the letter where the former president mentioned the formation of the coalition, but the issue of contesting for a second term is at the discretion of President Buhari because he has the constitutional right to contest again.
He said, “You know, President Buhari is fighting the issue of corruption and people are afraid that if he comes in for a second term, he may not spare anybody. To a large extent, Obasanjo is among those who have been accused in the Malabu deal and the presidential library issue. And this issue has been reoccurring. During Buhari’s second term, he may want to act on the issue of corruption. Many people are afraid of his second term because it will be a witch-hunting period for so many leaders in this country,” he said.
In Oyo State, the coalition has not been launched, even though the state is expected to be the political headquarters of the South-West, where major political decisions are taken in the region.
Although many people who spoke with Daily Trust on Sunday said they were aware of the recent launch of the coalition by the former president, they were not comfortable with such arrangement, saying Obasanjo cannot be trusted and cannot continue to decide for Nigerians.
The chief of staff to the Oyo State governor and an Associate Professor of Comparative Politics, Dr. Gbade Ojo, said the coalition was dead on arrival.
He said no serious politician would go into coalition or alliance with Obasanjo, who has a military background without regretting it.
A political analyst, Mr. Ademola Babalola, said with the limited time frame before the 2019 general elections, such coalition may not work again.
Also, in Jigawa State, the coalition is unheard of, and there is no office in either the state capital or any of the local government areas of the state.
A resident of Dutse, Safiyanu Sani, told Daily Trust on Sunday that since the time the idea about the coalition was muted, he never heard of it again.
Also, Danladi Babayo from Maigatari Local Government Area said he knew when it was launched, but since then, there has not been anything new.
However, unlike what obtains in other places, the Obasanjo coalition is already gathering momentum in Ondo State, with Demola Ijabiyi, a former commissioner under the late Governor Olusegun Agagu as state coordinator.
The movement, according to Ijabiyi, has started registering members in the 203 wards in the state.
The former commissioner told our correspondent that since the coalition is not a political party for now, it does not have leaders. They have, however, appointed coordinators who will serve as facilitators at local government levels.
According to him, the movement has acquired an office located at Morris Building, opposite Police A division in Akure, the state capital, where they now operate.
He said they had sent 100 forms to each ward, but was surprised at the demand as some wards keep demanding for more.
“In all, apart from those who registered on line, about 20,000 have been registered,’’ he said.
When Sunday Trust on Sunday went to town to sample people’s opinions in the sunshine state, they reacted with mixed feelings.
Ikuomola Ajibola, an IT consultant and farmer said he was aware of the coalition but does not believe it could work.
“It is a coalition of deceit,” he said, adding that only restructuring can move the country forward.
Mr Temitope Josua, a student, said he was aware of the letter Chief Olusegun Obasanjo wrote to President Muhammadu Buhari not to contest for second term, but not aware that there is a coalition already.
He, however, said he was eager to join them because what is happening in the country is not palatable.
Mr Muyiwa Ojo, a taxi driver in Akure, said he expected so much from this government, but he is now disappointed with what is happening. He said politicians were all the same, “coalition or no coalition.”
It was gathered that most of those in the coalition in the state included those of the old PDP members who left the party when Governor Olusegun Mimiko crossed from the Labour Party, and some aggrieved members of the APC who left the party after the last primary election.
In Kogi State, no office has been opened for the much talked about Obasanjo’s coalition. For now, those behind the coalition in the state are not known.
A Lokoja-based political analyst, Kabiru Yusuf, described the coalition movement as a project dead on arrival.
He said Obasanjo was only coming out with the movement for his selfish interest and not that of Nigerians. Yusuf, who accused Obasanjo of running Nigeria aground, urged him to return to his “Ota Farm” and live Nigeria alone.