-Govs, Ex-Govs, NASS Members Meet In Dubai, London
As former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s bombshell to President Muhammadu Buhari, advising him not to re-contest the 2019 presidential election sent shock waves across the country Tuesday, governors, legislators and political leaders cutting across the two major political parties – the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – met Tuesday night at an undisclosed location to continue discussions on the formation of a new major political party.
Sources conversant with the move to form a third major political party to wrest power from the APC, informed THISDAY that the meeting Tuesday night was a follow up to previous meetings held by the amorphous group of political leaders in Dubai, Saudi Arabia and London, with the objective of forming a “third force” that can meet the aspirations of its members.
One source who provided clarity on the coalescing of politicians that can trounce the APC and PDP in the next general election, explained that the concept of a third force in the political firmament has two strands.
“One is the Nigeria Intervention Movement (NIM) that is not a political party but is trying to galvanise professionals, civil society groups and activists to support credible candidates in different parties.
“The second is an amorphous group of political leaders, serving and former governors and National Assembly members of both parties, as well as retired military leaders who have been meeting in places like Dubai, Saudi Arabia and London to fashion out a modus vivendi for the new party that will challenge both the APC and PDP,” he said.
The source, however, explained that even though the political leaders had bought into the formation of a third major party and were waiting in the wings to step out once it is formed, they are conscious of the fact that there may be insufficient time to get it registered by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) before the elections.
“Since time is of the essence and most of the politicians who want to dump the APC and PDP for this new party know that there might not be enough time to get it registered, they are also on the hunt for one of the already registered political parties that they can use as a platform to actualise their goals,” he said.
Providing more insight into what may have galvanised some politicians from the two main parties to push for the formation of another party, the source said those from the APC are unhappy with the trajectory of the ruling party and the fact that it has lost legitimacy, especially in the Middle Belt region of the country.
“As you know the clashes between herdsmen and farmers, especially in Benue and Taraba States, and its mismanagement by the Buhari administration, has caused outrage and left many people in both states and the rest of the region bewildered.
“Key supporters of Buhari in Benue, Taraba and other Middle Belt states like General T.Y. Danjuma are bewildered over the way these conflicts have been handled. They believe the president could have intervened promptly, but he has failed to do so and has allowed the problem and killings to get out of control,” he said.
Another source further explained that Benue is the archetypical swing state in the North-central zone that has always voted with the winning party.
“In 1979 to 1983, Benue people backed the then ruling party, National Party of Nigeria (NPN), and it formed the government; in the current Republic, the state also backed the PDP and it formed the government; it also voted for APC and it has formed the government.
“But the killings in Benue State have caused its political leadership to reassess their support for the APC, because Buhari has been slow to act and has allowed the problem to fester,” he said.
Furthermore, he disclosed that several APC leaders desirous of a new platform are also unhappy with the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai, and the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, who have been accused of taking over the Buhari political machinery, and have used divide and rule tactics to sideline many members of the ruling party.
He added that several APC politicians have read the writing on the wall and know that the party has eroded the goodwill on which it rode to win the 2015 elections.
“As such, they are seeking a new platform which is not the PDP, because both the APC and PDP are not popular with the Nigerian people.”
Continuing, the source said the reason PDP was not considered as an option stemmed from the fact that the opposition party had become too “toxic” and has been hijacked by the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, and his Ekiti State counterpart, Ayodele Fayose.
“Even Obasanjo alluded to their procurement of the Supreme Court judgment and how one of them is now dictating the tune in the PDP to do his bidding.
“Also many familiar with the move to form the new party know that the South-west is a no-go area for the PDP because of the way it treated its South-west leaders at the last national convention of the party.
“The PDP is a tainted brand and is deemed by millions of Nigerians as a corrupt party, so there is no way it can be factored as an alternative platform for aggrieved APC members,” he added.