Past President Obasanjo’s hint at forming a Coalition for Nigeria (CN) to salvage Nigeria in his letter to the President has led to intense speculation over those who may emerge as presidential and vice presidential candidates in the movement, which is expected to dislodge the two main political parties in the country.
The former president, civil-war hero, political strategist and grandmaster of timing, had, before making the letter public, seriously begun the mobilisation of politicians and other Nigerian professionals to sign on to his coalition movement to dislodge president Muhammadu Buhari and indeed, the two main political parties from the governance architecture of the country.
According to sources, prominent politician that have signed on to Obasanjo’s movement include governors of Adamawa, Kebbi, Kwara, Benue, and Plateau and the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives.
In the letter to the president, Obasanjo did not miss words in laying out his plan of action for 2019. “We need a Coalition for Nigeria, CN. Such a Movement at this juncture needs not be a political party but one to which all well-meaning Nigerians can belong. That Movement must be a coalition for democracy, good governance, social and economic well-being and progress. Coalition to salvage and redeem our country.
You can count me with such a Movement.” According to him, the “Coalition for Nigeria will be a Movement that will drive Nigeria up and forward. It must have a pride of place for all Nigerians, particularly for our youth and our women. It is a coalition of hope for all Nigerians for speedy, quality and equal development, security, unity, prosperity and progress. It is a coalition to banish poverty, insecurity and despair. Our country must not be oblivious to concomitant danger around, outside and ahead.
Coalition for Nigeria must be a Movement to break new ground in building a united country, a socially-cohesive and moderately prosperous society with equity, equality of opportunity, justice and a dynamic and progressive economy that is self-reliant and takes active part in global division of labour and international decision-making. Continuing he said: “The Movement must work out the path of development and the trajectory of development in speed, quality and equality in the short- medium- and long-term for Nigeria on the basis of sustainability, stability, predictability, credibility, security, cooperation and prosperity with diminishing inequality.
What is called for is love, commitment and interest in our country, not in self, friends and kinship alone but particularly love, compassion and interest in the poor, underprivileged and downtrodden. It is our human duty and responsibility so to do. Failure to do this will amount to a sin against God and a crime against humanity,” Obasanjo wrote.
The news is rife both in Abuja and among the political elite that the former president may likely anoint one of Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, former Kano state governor and Senator, Sule Lamido, former Foreign Affairs Minister and former Governor of Jigawa State, and Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo, former Accountant-General of the federation and incumbent governor of Gombe state. Any of these, according to the source, could be paired with either Akinwumi Adesina, former Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development and the current President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) or Obeageli Ezekwesili, former Due Process Chief and two-time minister under Obasanjo and former Vice President of the World Bank.
It is doubtful though whether either of Adesina, whose candidacy for the presidency of the AfDB was supported by Buhari or Oby Ezekwesili, who runs a separate Red Card Movement Nigeria, also with the aim of ensuring that neither the APC nor its twin brother, the PDP, win the 2019 federal and state legislative and executive elections, would agree to be drafted into the race. The AfDB is a respected multilateral development finance institution with much clout in the African continent and whose presidency is much sought after.
What is more, Adesina is the first Nigerian president of the bank. It is doubtful whether Adesina would like to sacrifice such a prestigious position for the risky position of a vice presidential candidate of a movement that is not certain to dislodge the incumbent from office. Although Oby Ezekwesili is a known protégé of Obasanjo and has finished her tour of duty of the World Bank and is therefore available, she has become more of an activist these days and there are doubts she may not readily make herself available to vie for office.
Regardless, those being touted for the presidential candidacy of the movement are all known to be actively interested in contesting for the position.