Former President Olusegun Obasanjo
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo

The True Third Force, By Azibola Omekwe

It evokes anger why after nearly 58 years of our independence, we are still battling to save Nigeria. Our mates and even younger peers have gone to the moon as well as have gone nuclear. They manufacture and sell aircrafts on the counter. Electricity power supply does not blink in these countries, while we are grappling with who is performing and who is not. We are, however, grateful to Baba Obasanjo, for his perpetuity in intervening in our polity in his so long a “love” letter. We are really grateful to Baba for telling the APC-led government to stop stealing our money while they sermonize that PDP is to be blamed for their lack of performance.

The government has suddenly discovered an art for its cluelessness. PDP ‘misrule’ is to be blamed for paying subsidy on petrol nobody knows the giver nor the receiver, or even the amount. It is to be blamed for our medical personnel to dread going to work because it is a death trap. What a hell for patients! PDP is to be blamed for the killings in Zamfara State, a scenario worse than Benue State while the state and federal officials are afraid to speak. It is to be blamed when it is a faceless cabal and not the president that is ruling Nigeria. Of course, we can blame it on the Minister of Justice to go to court to stop the Senate from investigating Abdulrasheed Maina; while the president is ‘angry’ he was ever reinstated. Nigerians have declared him wanted as a people while the relevant institutions are yet to do so. Of course, PDP’s 16 years of ‘misrule’ caused the scandals in the NNPC under Buhari as the Petroleum Minister.

Dr. Olusegun Obasanjo has often come to the rescue. While other former presidents traverse the length and breadth of Nigeria preaching peace and unity, he was bold enough to say corruption is worse than Nigeria has ever known. Baba is supposed to know. He convincingly enumerated the sins of this government; that is irrefutable. The Oracle of the hills and the caves of Ota farm declared: Buhari forget 2019, go home and rest. We commend Obasanjo to have spoken the minds of Nigerians to the president to take a deserved rest and join the fray of statesmen in advising Nigerians until death do you part. The accusations on this government are weighty and there is no way Buhari can redeem himself out of it. Under this regime bloody clashes are uncountable, the highest in the annals of the country so far. That is unacceptable. These and many more are the attacks and counter attacks of the political parties against one another.

At a point in time, Obasanjo’s party card came to the rescue. Since the government of the day was not performing, he tore it publicly. Sometime ago when APC was at its best blaming PDP for its incompetence, he came with another antic that he actually did not tear the card and that he could use it to remove them out of power. And after the card phase, now heralds The Third Force.

The Third Force concept herein is metaphoric. It is the force that seems to fix those things that are beyond the available means or political power. This concept came like a beautiful toast in the best words to Nigerians. It came jaw dropping and has caused the not so careful and anxious people to sit on the edges of their chairs. It is presumably made up of people who are not part of the political class. That is, with these guys, it is not business as usual. One would quickly think these guys are from the galaxy and they have come out with the magic solution. A quick recall of how the APC came out with their masterpiece strategies.

You may require a third eye, perhaps a pair of binoculars, to look where the signatories of the third force are coming from. Big names, as usual. But lo and behold, when the major force behind the third force was mentioned one would quickly recall a diversionary Obasanjo. Between 1999 and 2007 Nigeria had several billions of dollars from oil that cannot be accounted for today. The mention of Buba Galadima’s name on the signatories is only laughable to see an exhumation of a ‘dead body’. Alhaji Galadima was a founding father of the defunct CPC that gave birth to the nightmarish APC. His is simple: he fell out of favour with the APC and quickly turned into self-acclaimed activism against them; hence his participation in the third force. One thing would quickly come to mind: does it mean if a system you supposedly actively initiated does no longer favour you or you fall out of grace with it, that now automatically makes you an activist? Senator Shehu Sani is a renowned activist yet he is in APC, even when they are not heeding to his quarrels.

At the sight of the name of a supposedly young man, Donald Duke in the third force, the multi billion naira debt Cross River State incurred under him quickly comes to mind. And the mirage called Tinapa Resort quickly comes to mind too. These are some of the core forerunners of the third force. Nigeria should be tired of a preservationist system – these are people that have been in the political class one time or the other. They are not coming from the blues. They have not even given Nigeria a clear-cut mission statement that is sellable.

It is a matter of nomenclature. We have had third forces right from Shagari’s reign. Buhari came to power in 1983 as a third force. PDP’s emergence in 1999 in our nascent democracy was like a third force. APC came like a beautiful bride three years ago, that was also a third force. Today, the christened ‘third force’ is chorusing. The trend is now scientific. Nigerians can be told to forget the sitting government and welcome a third force, and when the third force fails, then reconsider a fourth force and this becomes generic to a fifth force and so on.

Governance is not about a clique of people with their intrigues. It is about a click on ideas to transform into a workable system that is sustainable. Cliques break but ideas stay. There is a need for Nigeria to build a workable system in line with this famous quote: “America has no government but a system”. Nigeria has just identified one: the restructuring to a true federalism that Atiku Abubakar is modelling now.

A prudent thinker like Obasanjo would have called Atiku Abubakar and asked him how this system that the latter is forerunning would strive and free Nigeria from the suffering since it is a novel theory. It would only behoove on the theorist to tell Nigerians how the system would deliver an egalitarian society; how it would answer vexatious questions concerning cattle colonies; how it would make the leaders of the unit states go to work and stop relying on the central government; how the unit states would have to harness their resources; how an Ortom would not have to fill or make several fruitless applications to the Inspector General of Police and receive insults as a “drowning man” in Abuja before he swoops on perpetrators of dastardly acts in his state; how a state can be able to lend another money without waiting for the Federal Government for bailouts. The benefits are endless. Why can’t Obasanjo embrace this groundbreaking idea together with the scholar and promoter behind it? It is a revolutionary theory in its right.

Lest we forget, brain efficiency and capability has nothing to do with age. Leadership has nothing to do with age – it has to do with what you have got to offer. Ideology is diametrically different from age discrepancy. After all, long awaited solutions do not come as picking something from the shelf; it comes after years of working the library, studios, laboratories, fields, etc.

Let us come to look at it critically: if it were an issue of young age, then states like Kogi would have been boasting of having the best governor but empirical findings look the other direction. Having something to offer has to do with forceful research for solutions. With the nationalistic embrace given to the restructuring ideology it is enough to say that restructuring is the true third force.

*Omekwe is a former member of Bayelsa State House of Assembly.

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