Mass Defection Looms as ‘Third Force’ Gathers Momentum
The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) may be consumed by leadership and factionalisation crises which have blown open as many of its chieftains and top members, including sitting governors and serving federal lawmakers, have signed into the new third force, the Coalition for Nigeria, called for by former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
This was as the six zonal chapters of the party have formed themselves into an opposition against the APC National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, over alleged indiscretion and lack of transparency, accountability and general mismanagement of the affairs of the party.
Following the call by Obasanjo for a third force, as contained in his statement on the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, on Tuesday, it was confirmed on Friday that several high-profile members of the party are part of the new movement. An online newspaper, Premium Times, had on Thursday reported that many of those consulted by Obasanjo were said to have keyed into his plan to ensure a shift from the two major political parties in the country, APC and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which he described as unfit to run the country effectively.
The online news medium revealed that the former president, frustrated by the worsening state of the nation, even after he had repeatedly discussed his concerns with Buhari, had spent the last few months consulting key political leaders in the country.
As of Friday afternoon, Tribune Newspapers report a key member of the new movement saying that “the coalition has been activated in more than 70 per cent of the electoral wards across the 774 local government areas,” even as he said “12 governors, about 26 senators and over 100 members of the House of Representatives have joined the coalition.”
The source gave a breakdown of the 12 governors to include nine from the northern part of the country and the remaining three from the South, adding that the target number of governors that would eventually sign into the Coalition for Nigeria project is 24, representing two-thirds of the entire country.
“Initially, the number of sitting governors who have joined the coalition train was nine. But as we speak, the number of governors on the list has increased to 12, while the target is 24 governors to represent two-thirds of the country’s geographical spread.
“Talks are still on with the other 12 governors who have shown interest in the coalition for Nigeria project. These governors are watching events as they unfold,” the source said.
While plans are said to be underway to constitute the leadership of the proposed coalition, with the announcement expected mid-next week, President Buhari and Obasanjo may meet today in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Both leaders are attending the African Union summit.
There are concerns on both sides on how the two leaders would manage their differences at that international forum, even as it was not clear, on Friday, if former Head of State, General AbdulSalami Abubakar, would be involved.