Third Force Should Be Of Working Class People, Not Politicians – Falana

Femi Falana, Human right activist and constitutional lawyer, has thrown his weight behind the third force movement of former President Olusegun Obasanjo known as Coalition for Nigeria (CN).

The constitutional lawyer said the third force by Obasanjo should be a party of the working class that would protect the interest of Nigerians.

Speaking at the 40th anniversary celebration of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), in Abuja, yesterday, Falana while revealing that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) recovered N750 billion loots in two years, tasked the NLC to monitor the usage of the money by the Federal Government.

According to Falana, “The solution is for us to reorganise the Labour Party so that it will not be a dumping ground for the disgruntled elements of the ruling class.

“This is because General Obasanjo said neither APC (All Progressives Congress) or the PDP (Peoples Democratic Party) has a solution to the country’s problems.

“Therefore, there is a need for a Third Force.

“That Third Force must not be by the disgruntled people, but of the Nigerian working people.

“The NLC has a role to play to protect the interest of the Nigerian people.

“That is why whenever there is a problem in the country, people will be asking where is NLC.

“If you say you are fighting corruption, we have nothing to lose but to join them to expose themselves.

“The EFCC in the last two and half years recovered N750 billion.

“NLC must find out what will they do with the money.

“I told government publicly that what they are doing by saying they are fighting corruption is a tip of the iceberg, the real corruption is not being fought.

“I wrote a letter to the Minister of Finance and I itemised how this country can recover about $200 billion and therefore they don’t need to go anywhere to borrow money, but what the Minister did was to write me back to acknowledge receiving the letter and that it is receiving attention.

“And up till now, that letter is receiving attention.

“In 2006, the then CBN Governor, Prof. Chukwuma Charles Soludo, gave $7 billion to 14 banks and those banks have not paid back the money.

“Also in 2008, the CBN governor, Malam Sanusi Lamido, gave to six banks N600 billion and up till now, the money has not been returned.

“You cannot say we are broke, pay back this money.

“You also remember the N100 million that was released for the revive of the textile industry, but still these textile companies are still moribund. Where is the money?

“Also in the last 10 years, over N400 billion was released for agriculture, but yet we are hungry.”

Obasanjo Follows Good Intentions With Bad Actions

By SKC Ogbonnia

Without a doubt, Dr. Olusegun Obasanjo (OBJ) is an important witness to the Nigerian history. He is also known to often speak his mind, whether good or bad. But ignoring him is to do so at one’s own peril. That is why the controversy trailing his recent open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari may never subside.

To start, Obasanjo has good intentions to declare that things are not going well in Nigeria, and there is a need for real change. In short, the letter is similar to the one he wrote to the then-sitting president, Goodluck Jonathan, which was then hailed by those of us in the All Progressive Congress (APC). Even Buhari himself commended Obasanjo at the time, saying that, “No right-thinking Nigerian will choose to ignore the appalling descent to anarchy that Nigeria” was experiencing under Jonathan. Hence those now criticizing Obasanjo’s admonition to Buhari need to have a serious rethink.

 

To continue, the Abeokuta born ex-president was damn forthright to infer that Muhammadu Buhari might have saved Nigeria by being able to dislodge the corrupt empire under Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Obasanjo was very candid to remark that Buhari has shown a measurable improvement on the war against corruption among other accomplishments. He is also objective to state that President Buhari is performing below expectations overall. Very tellingly, he is patriotic to insist that the President Buhari is neither in good state of health nor has the capacity to pilot the affairs of the nation and thus needs to exhaust his tenure and retire with some sense of dignity in 2019.

More relatively, OBJ had good intentions when he mooted the need for a Third Force to rescue Nigeria. To him, the two major political parties, APC and PDP, only differ by name. But Obasanjo’s action on the Third Force might have become a poisoned chalice.

First of all, though Obasanjo insists that the Third Force will remain as an ordinary movement, its stated objectives clearly mirror that of a political party. Even if Obasanjo decides to walk away in event the movement metamorphose into a political party, as he alluded, the other political figures in the movement are likely to stay put thereby occasioning the emergence of another strong party in Nigeria. That will be a big blow to the country.

Multiplicity of political parties is not good for Nigeria’s turbulent democracy. It only goes to weaken opposition activity. That explains why most political insiders (including the two most reliable barometers of military opinion in Obasanjo himself and Ibrahim Babangida) have never failed to quip that Nigeria’s history with weak opposition not only contributed to past leadership crisis but also created the chances of military takeover of government.

Accordingly, instead of a new political party, all hands ought to be on deck in strengthening the two major parties, thereby producing strong opposition activity by consequence. The problem with the two major parties has nothing to do with their ideologies or manifestoes. The problem is an ageless minority in position of leadership of the two parties whose only raison d’être of being in politics is corrupt practices. But guess what, the masses are the majority.

The Third Force, therefore, should emerge and operate as change agents within the two major parties. Its goal should be to provoke power shift to the masses, including new breed politicians and the youth who are not part and parcel of Nigeria’s shameless corrupt oligarchy. Jumping from one party to another does not demonstrate good leadership. True leaders do not run away in midst of crisis; they stay to make things better.

Second, the gallery at Obasanjo’s launch of the Third Force, aka, Coalition for Nigeria Movement (CNM) might have effortlessly ruptured the balloon of public goodwill that followed OBJ’s salvo to Buhari, which was initially inflated by a cocktail of desire for true change. With a possible exception of very few individuals, the premier of the Third Force was a confluence of the ageless politicians that combined to ruin Nigeria. Unbelievable!

Be that as it may, Obasanjo’s letter urging President Buhari not to seek re-election in 2019 is commendable. But the Ota farmer must ensure that the emergent change is positive. The desired change starts with practice of internal party democracy within the two major parties. A true change must embrace a new breed of leaders, particularly the youths, who have the zeal and the competencies to cope with the demands of the 21st century. Such leaders must not be part of the status quo. Nigeria direly needs leaders with the moral audacity to demonstrate consequences for bad behaviour without minding whose ox is gored.