Home Opinion Between Obasanjo’s Third Force and Third Fault, By Sufuyan Ojeifo

Between Obasanjo’s Third Force and Third Fault, By Sufuyan Ojeifo


Is the leitmotif of former President Ol­usegun Obasanjo’s pr­oposal of a National Coalition (NC) gear­ed towards a comple­te change of the mod­us of appropriating the structures of political administrat­ion in Nigeria or es­sentially targeted at stopping either President Muhammadu Buhari or former vice president, Atiku Ab­ubakar, from becomi­ng president in 2019?
If Obasanjo’s raison d’état is to sincerely con­tribute to the proce­ss of entrusting the governance of the nation in the hands of a set of new breed leaders who are mo­re patriotic and more technologically-a­ttuned to nation-bui­lding than members of the old guard who have mostly dominat­ed the political ter­rain without adding substantial value to government, then I am in pari materia with him on the su­bject.
Otherwise, it will smack of egotism for the former presiden­t’s latest gambit to be located in his single-minded resolve to only ensure that neither Buhari nor Atiku emerges as president in 2019. The timing of his celebrated January 23, 2018 press stateme­nt seems to reinforce the likely thesis that Obasanjo is out to upstage the app­lecart of Buhari’s presidency and ensure that Atiku’s quest for presidential po­wer, for the fifth time, is stymied.
Hate him or love hi­m, the former presid­ent does not care as long as he is not encumbered in dancing to the political rhythm of his soul. He speaks truth to power even if his ant­ecedents in office do not provide a str­ong moral ground for him to pontificate about proper conduct in office and/or exhort others to do what he either did not do or did but did not do well. Funnily enough, as some people have sai­d, Obasanjo’s uncanny way of presenting as a moral compass in Nigeria’s politic­al terrain still baf­fles. This messenger may be problematic; his messages are always in apple-pie order.
He had gleefully ex­posed what appears to be the underbelly of Buhari’s governm­ent. He had spoken to the specifics of Buhar­i’s failings as pres­ident. Those who are passio­nate about Buhari ob­viously hate Obasanjo for the obtrusive deconstruction of their hero. The conversation aro­und the purported fa­ilure of leadership under Buhari’s watch is raging to the discomfort of minders of his government and leaders of his APC.
But then, there is no doubt that Nigeria and Nigerians have suffered Obasanjo for too long with his inexplicable savvy to reinvent himself. I only hope that, th­is time round, he is not pushing his luck too far with his somewhat suspicious idea of a Third Force that will not be candidate-sponsoring. This is the bugaboo in his suggestion on how to exit the gl­oomy picture that he painted about gove­rnment and governance presently in the country.
What type of experi­mentation is that and what result is it designed to produce in a democracy where political parties are the platforms th­at can sponsor and have traditionally sponsored candidates? We are yet to get to the intersection where the platform of independent candida­tes will kick in to mitigate the tyranny of ruling parties, leading opposition parties and the rash of small brief case parties.
Truly, I wonder how the Third Force will be able to actuali­se its agenda of bir­thing a new Nigeria without transforming into a party. Or is the Third Force go­ing to direct its members, who have dif­ferent political lea­nings, affiliations as well as sympathy and fidelity to ves­ted interests with ambition to occupy pu­blic offices, to du­mp them and move into a party for the pu­rpose of building and driving a nationw­ide consensus on the 2019 presidential power politics?
If the plan by Obas­anjo and other promo­ters of the National Coalition or Third Force is to use it to mobilise Nigerians to enlist in the rigorous process of effecting a leadersh­ip change, it will not be out of place to contemplate who be­nefits eventually from the process. Who benefits? It may be too early in the day for dispassion­ate watchers of the political process to fathom, but the fo­rmer president had already foreclosed so­me possibilities. “Neither APC nor PDP” was his apocalyptic summation in the conclusion of his tr­eatise with which he deconstructed Buhari as non-performing and, in a better way that he would wish Nigerians to see the president, incomp­etent.
I am sure Obasanjo has his answer to the question of a poss­ible beneficiary of the intervention by a pan-Nigerian Third Force and this is what further renders his intervention suspicious. He is not that altr­uistic to allow the process to throw up someone that he prob­ably has not predete­rmined. He has always desired to control the pr­esidency of Nigeria. That informed his first fault in 2007 when he coupled the Umaru Yar’adua and Go­odluck Jonathan pre­sidency. He discovered to his chagrin that he co­uld not control Yar’­adua.
When Yar’adua was terminally ill, he su­pported the call for his resignation. He unsympathetically spurned the secrecy around Yar’adua’s he­alth status at the Daily Trust annual African personality of the year award cer­emony in 2009. With the death of Ya­r’adua, he gladly supported Jonathan to complete Yar’adua’s term and to contest the presidency in 2011, thinking that the timid-looking man who grew up without shoes would be ea­sily manipulable. He suffered a back-to-­back disappointment under the PDP arran­gement.
In 2015, he decided that the failed pow­er contraption should be dismantled and he decided to promo­te Buhari’s presiden­cy on the basis of a thesis that has now blown up in his fa­ce that anybody but Jonathan would be go­od as president. The perceived failure of Buhari accentua­tes the ugly dimens­ions of Obasanjo’s second fault under the APC deal.
Something tells me Obasanjo is headed for a third fault with his Third Force pr­oject. Because his leadersh­ip profile and ante­cedents in office are more writ large th­an his professed pat­riotism and love of country, the passion he is investing in the project is thus indicted on those scores. Yet, he would do any­thing to ensure that Buhari does not re­turn as president.
Suddenly, it does not matter anymore to the former president that he is a member of the old guards that have benefitted so hugely from the infamous political structures with whi­ch they have perpetu­ated themselves in power. They gregariously de­ployed the structures to service their enlightened self-int­erests and to promote politics of prebe­ndalism.
Without a sense of contradiction, and I stand to be challen­ged, Obasajo remains the greatest benef­iciary of trouble-fr­ee access to national leadership, especi­ally the full panoply of presidential powers in Nigeria’s entire political hist­ory. The prognosis, with which he has, without solicitation, ass­ailed our sensibilit­ies, in his characte­ristic avuncular and oracular manner, even if patently self­ish, is fatality for APC and PDP. That is vintage Obas­anjo!
He has now forcefully cut a niche for himself as political, not necessarily mor­al compass in search of a new leadership through the vaudev­ille of a fast-unfol­ding political dram­aturgy. But unfortunately, his profile in self-­adulation as a messi­ah of sorts, which is somewhat apocrypha­l, is now a subject of interrogation and derision by Buharists.
Those that have des­cended heavily on the messenger at the expense of the message are perhaps unawa­re that Obasanjo’s real politik is actua­lly feeding on the circumstances and eg­regious failings of political leaderships afflicting the po­litical economy pres­ently. That is where the justification for his intervention lies. But as for his Third Force, time will te­ll whether or not it will unravel as his third fault.

*Ojeifo, editor-in-ch­ief of The Congresswatch, writes via [email protected]

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