“The opposition can only be victorious in 2023 general election when there is only one united front. Let us work together to defeat the common enemy that have destroyed our country and made our people poorer”
– Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) ’s statement.
Interesting times are here again, within the effervescent and sometimes volatile Nigerian political spectrum, ahead of the 2023 general elections. Some pundits call it a chess game. Others say it is nothing but kalo-kalo poll-y-tricks, as usual before any nation-wide choice of the people’s representatives into the corridors of political power. Always full of intrigues, propaganda, brutal and bitter backstabbing and betrayals, the antics, concerned analysts claim, are all for self-serving purposes instead of seeking the common good for the larger society.
But call it whatever you like, a group has thrown the dice on the political table. The movement called the National Consultative Front (NCF) is made up of over 30 prominent Nigerian activists, academics and other professionals. They have launched a new political movement ahead of the 2023 general elections. This was made public recently in a communique at the new group’s national secretariat in Abuja.
According to media sources, the group reportedly held a month-long nationwide consultation and virtual meetings. Members of the group include former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ghali Na’abba; former deputy governor of the Central Bank, Obadiah Mailafia; Femi Falana; Abubakar Umar; Oby Ezekwesili; Jibo Ibrahim; Yabagi Sanni; Nkoyo Toyo, Isa Aremu, Chidi Odinkalu, and Shehu Sani among others.
The group, though coming up with some people-oriented motives has however, started on a shaky note. Both Olisa Agbakoba and Omoyele Sowore of the African Action Congress (AAC) have distanced themselves from the NCF movement. Abgakoba said, “My attention has been drawn to a widely circulated story that I am part of a new political movement known as the National Consultative Front. Without prejudice to the need for such a political movement, I want to place it on record that I was not consulted and so I am not part of the National Consultative Front.”
In a similar vein, the Coalition of United Political Parties, CUPP, has kicked against the inclusion of some of its members in the new political party floated on by some prominent Nigerians. CUPP emphatically stated that while it appreciates the fact that the alleged crass performance of the present administration must have led to the formation of the political party but stated that those associated with it(CUPP) at the meeting, attended in their individual capacities and not as its representatives.
These instantaneous, negative responses, one must say is not good enough for the image of the NCF. Given the avalanche of socio-economic and political malfeasances still bedeviling the country, five years after the All Progressives Congress (APC) took over the reins of political power, any group taking over the baton should get its acts together, ab nitio. There must be in place thorough thinking through processes.
Notwithstanding the early hiccups, the NCF has promised, the movement would be citizen-driven and process-led in engendering a new peoples’ constitution. According to the communique, they would embark on “immediate mass mobilization of the nooks and crannies of the country for popular mass action towards political constitution reforms that is citizens-driven and process-led in engendering a new Peoples’ Constitution for a new Nigeria that can work for all.”
“The new movement shall also, without delay, mobilize for the economic wellbeing and prosperity of all Nigerians by demanding and ensuring that Chapter 2 of the present Constitution i.e. Fundamental Objectives & Directive Principles of State Policy becomes justiciable once and for all, while also mounting an articulate and vigorous campaign to deconstruct and reconstruct obnoxious election laws which have provided leeway for opportunists in the corridor of power to subvert the will of the electorate making voting irrelevant in determining who actually becomes elected in Nigeria.”
“We decry in categorical terms, the ongoing mindless massacre and kidnappings in the North-west, North-east, Southern Kaduna, the Middle Belt, Southern part of Nigeria and in fact the country at large by armed bandits and insurgents, who invade our communities, especially at night to inflict terror and murder on hapless residents and unsuspecting indigenes”.
Talk is cheap, is it not? We have heard sweeter swan songs before, have we not? From Nigeria’s first political party, the Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP) formed in 1923 by Herbert Macaulay, through the Action Group (AG) a Nigerian political party established in Ibadan on 21 March 1951, by Chief Obafemi Awolowo to the formation of political parties before 1979 general elections, the promises have always rang similar notes and tones. And that is to better the lot of the common man.
Did the Greater Nigerian People’s Party (GNPP), the National Party of Nigeria (NPN),Nigeria Advance Party (NAP),Nigerian People’s Party (NPP), People’s Redemption Party (PRP), Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) not pledge to give Nigerians a better lease of life? They did!
Even if some were not lucky to win the general elections, what about the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) that held the levers of power for 16 good years and currently, the APC that holds the nation’s neck by the jugular vein and is tasking(sorry, taxing) the poor victims of economic recession and COVID-19 beyond the elasticity limit?
At one point or the other, just before the general elections they made the promises of paradise. But where are we today? We have become the world capital of not just penury but of extreme poverty; home to the highest number of out- of- school children. The country, deeply enmeshed in the quagmire of corruption and impunity boasts of some of the best brains in many lucrative professions in the world but lack of good, purposeful and patriotic leadership has remained the albatross for our sustainable economic development.
So, where lays the intractable political equation? Members of the NCF should engage in moments of sober reflection. Why did they not storm the streets in protest and ask the government why the military-foisted constitution has remained unchanged decades after? Why has Mister President refused to sign the Electoral Amendment Bill into law? And why has he remained mute in the face of the mindless killings of innocent Nigerians by armed Fulani herders or herdsmen? Why would a country fighting insecurity bring about the obnoxious visa-on-arrival policy for foreign nationals? And why did he wait for the outcry from concerned southerners for five years before appointing their sons and daughters to positions of political authority?
This aberrant structure of a bloated federal centre that controls what it should not and cudgels a pseudo- democratic dispensation to a daring dictatorship cannot lift Nigerians from the ignoble pit of poverty and despair. NCF has a lot to do and to make the much-needed difference it should get its acts right from the first step!