By Abuja, By Chibuzo Ukaibe and Sunday Isuwa
Barely a week after former President Olusegun Obasanjo advocated a new political platform to upstage the two major parties in the country, a Coalition for Nigeria Movement (CNM), touted as the third force, was yesterday launched in Abuja. The launch was attended by political stalwarts from both All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), members of the civil society, women groups and the youths. Comprised mainly of Obasanjo’s henchmen, the coalition said it is poised to upstage both the PDP and the APC in 2019. In his opening remarks, former governor of Osun State, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, who is the acting chairman of the coalition, said the mandate of the movement is to salvage Nigeria from bad governance. Oyinlola, a member of the APC and chairman of Board of National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), said that the country was drifting into extinction until Obasanjo woke everyone from slumber through his statement. The former governor, who hailed the former president for mustering courage to write the statement, added that the movement was not a platform for Obasanjo to continue to remain relevant in the political life of the country. He said, “To say that we are legitimising OBJ’s legacies is a bit off the mark. There is no one who can fault the issues raised in Obasanjo’s letter. Forget the messenger; let’s discuss the message. “What he has done is to stir us from our slumber to the reality of what is happening in Nigeria to take charge and take action. Are there no other leaders sitting around and watching how things are going? I think we should give some kudos to him for being able to address Nigerians on the ills of the society which requires attention”. He maintained that CNM remains a movement and not a political party pending the resolution of members for it to metamorphose into a party.
Oyinlola added that he is willing to give up his chairmanship position on the Board of National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) to ensure that CNM becomes a success story. His words: “I am not tied down to a political party. This is a part-time commission, which means I have only four meetings in a year but get it straight. I joined a political party to serve my country and my service in NIMC is to my country and countrymen. “If my being chairman will rob off my desire to see this movement to its greatest height, then the Chairmanship will yield. The style of convening this movement is noble and it is quite different from any other we have had in this country. “We are not yet a political party but if we are going to metamorphose into a political party, it must be a collective decision” Oyinlola emphasized”. Former governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke, who is also a co-convener of the coalition, said the movement has received overwhelming support since it came on board. Duke said, “Forget about the story that we are the largest economy in Africa, it is an imagination of numbers. There are so many people in Nigeria and even if we are doing nothing, it will still be the largest economy but in terms of productivity, we are nowhere. “And if 39-40 years ago our federal budget is 25 billion and today it is 23 billion and our population is 196 million, it practically explains where we are and what we have to do- the need to work as a coalition and change our nation”. On mobilization of members he said, “We have spokesmen across the country, in every senatorial district. They will also go back and replicate what we are doing here. If we can get the critical mass, then it is worth of being a political party but if we can’t get the critical mass, then why go to the next stage. “A political party requires numbers; we need to recruit people of like minds. We don’t have political parties in Nigeria; we have platforms. And so people crisscross from one platform to the other and all they are doing is seeking office, not implementing a thought. We hope to come together and make that difference”. On the possibility that the older generation, which has remained in the corridors of power for too long, will come and hijack the process and continue with their impunity, he responded: “We are also aware that a new generation is at the vanguard of taking over. While our generation is stepping back, the new vanguard will lead. “We will step back and perhaps guide and share our experiences which will serve as a guide to the younger generation.” A member of the APC Board of Trustees (BoT), Buba Galadima, declared his support for the coalition, saying it does not go against his membership of the APC. He said, “It is not a political party. It is a movement being put together to salvage our country from the verge of disintegration”. On his support for the reelection of President Buhari, he said, “If the president wants to be reelected then he can show us empirical evidence that he has performed in putting infrastructural development in the country, that he has put food on the table, that he has managed to unify this country; then we will all be prepared to vote for him but if those indices are not available then he does not deserve a second term.” Also speaking, Abdul-Jellil Tafawa Balewa who was one of the organisers said that the country needs a force to salvage it from bad leadership. A former BoT member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Senator Ahmadu Ali who also graced the occasion declared his support for the movement. INEC To Transmit 2019 Election Results Electronically Meanwhile, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will transmit the 2019 general election results electronically. Chairman of the commission, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, who disclosed this yesterday said it would be the first time election results would be electronically collated and transmitted from the polling units. Yakubu gave the hint when he led members of the commission and some directors on a courtesy visit to the National Communication Commission (NCC) headquarters in Abuja. He said with the help of the NCC, there will be Electronic Transmission of results and increased voter awareness campaign through bulk SMS. The INEC chairman, who was received by the NCC executive vice chairman, Professor Umar G. Danbatta, reiterated INEC’s commitment towards deepening the deployment of technology in elections. He said, the time has come to electronically collate and transmit election results, “by doing so, results will be transmitted faster and more accurately from the Polling Units to various collation declaration centres.” Allaying possible concerns Nigerians may have in the integrity of e-collation and transmission process of results, Professor Yakubu said, “We wish to assure Nigerians that while we will transmit the raw figures from the Polling Units, scanned images of the results sheets will also be transmitted electronically in addition to the physical copies given to the political party agents at each polling unit and each level of collation. Therefore, there will be paper trail against which the integrity of the electronically transmitted figures can be compared and verified. “In several rerun and bye-elections conducted since the 2015 General Elections, the commission has deployed the electronic collation and transmission platforms on pilot basis. More recently, we conducted simultaneous electronic and manual transmission of results in some major elections. We are planning for full deployment this year in the governorship elections in Ekiti State in July and Osun state in September. Thereafter, we intend to deploy the system in the 2019 general election”.