Did Obasanjo just set up 'Coalition for Nigeria' as new political party in Buhari rant?

The former president didn't only savage Buhari's 2019 ambition, he subtly offered Nigerians another political alternative.

The farmer from Ogun State took a knife to the gut of the president's likely re-election bid by highlighting why he does not deserve it.

In Tuesday's 13-page statement titled, "The Way Out: A Clarion Call for Coalition for Nigeria Movement", the former president made his feelings about Buhari's administration known by poking at its most pointed failures that have become a consistent source of anguish for many Nigerians.

Obasanjo faulted the president for exhibiting nepotic interest in his dealings as the nation's Commander-in-Chief and dividing the country as a result.

The former president advised Buhari to step down after the end of his tenure in 2019 and decline to seek re-election because he doesn't appear to possess the ability to move the country any further than he already has, or hasn't.

He said, "President Buhari needs a dignified and honourable dismount from the horse. He needs to have time to reflect, refurbish physically and recoup and after appropriate rest, once again, join the stock of Nigerian leaders whose experience, influence, wisdom and outreach can be deployed on the sideline for the good of the country.

"President Buhari does not necessarily need to heed my advice. But whether or not he heeds it, Nigeria needs to move on and move forward."

Who can move Nigeria forward?

While Obasanjo was critical of the Buhari administration on the platform of the All Progressives' Congress (APC), he also saved some harsh words for the People's Democratic Party (PDP)that he dramatically quit in 2015.

In the statement, the former president expressed his lost hope in the ability of both parties to provide Nigeria with the initiative it needs to progress.

He said "I have had occasion in the past to say that the two main political parties - APC and PDP - were wobbling.  I must reiterate that nothing has happened to convince me otherwise.  If anything, I am reinforced in my conviction.

"If neither APC nor PDP is a worthy horse to ride to lead Nigeria at this crucial and critical time, what then do we do?  Remember Farooq Kperogi, an Associate Professor at the Kennesaw State University, Georgia, United States, calls it "a cruel Hobson's choice; it's like a choice between six and half a dozen, between evil and evil. Any selection or deflection would be a distinction without a difference.

"We cannot just sit down lamenting and wringing our hands desperately and hopelessly."

To solve the problem Nigeria has with fielding 'incompetent' people for elective positions, Obasanjo is proposing an uprising of ordinary Nigerians who will rise to the occasion and save the country.

What is the Coalition for Nigeria?

Obasanjo's solution to Nigeria's recurrent malaise is the formation of what he has named the "Coalition for Nigeria".

According to him, the coalition will be a movement of all well-meaning Nigerians that will engage in democratic practices that will drive Nigeria forward and be a source of hope for all Nigerians for speedy, quality and equal development, security, unity, prosperity and progress (basically everything PDP and APC have failed at, it appears).

He said, "Coalition for Nigeria must be a Movement to break new ground in building a united country, a socially cohesive and moderately prosperous society with equity, equality of opportunity, justice and a dynamic and progressive economy that is self-reliant and takes active part in global division of labour and international decision-making.

"The Movement must work out the path of development and the trajectory of development in speed, quality and equality in the short, medium, and long-term for Nigeria on the basis of sustainability, stability, predictability, credibility, security, cooperation and prosperity with diminishing inequality.

"What is called for is love, commitment and interest in our country, not in self, friends and kinship alone but particularly love, compassion and interest in the poor, underprivileged and downtrodden.

"It is our human duty and responsibility so to do. Failure to do this will amount to a sin against God and a crime against humanity."

What is Obasanjo really doing here?

While Obasanjo listed off a plethora of objectives for the coalition to fulfil to advance the cause of the ordinary Nigerian with their own sweat and blood, it's still incredibly vague how the group can achieve some of the former president's lofty ideals.

Despite his eagerness to be part of this coalition that he's beckoning on Nigerians to launch, Obasanjo promised to cease being a part of the movement the minute it becomes a political platform that sponsors candidates for elections.

"Nothing should stop such a movement from satisfying conditions for fielding candidates for elections, but if at any stage the movement wishes to metamorphose into candidate-sponsoring movement for elections, I will bow out of the movement because I will continue to maintain my non-partisan position," he said.

While it appears that the sticking point of the coalition would be to form one big behemoth capable of upsetting the country's current two-party hegemony, Obasanjo wants no active part in that evolution of the movement to preserve the non-partisan shtick that made him throw his weight behind Buhari for the 2015 presidential election.

Even though many are focusing on the former president's  devastating criticism of President Buhari in that statement, Obasanjo appears to be more focused on arriving at a different destination, merely using Buhari as a vehicle to get there quicker.

Not only has the former president taken a hack at President Buhari's most likely re-election bid, but he seems to be beckoning on Nigerians to take their destinies into their own hands without really appearing to be saying it wholeheartedly.

He even mandated in his statement that the Coalition for Nigeria "must have its headquarters in Abuja", a requirement that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) makes of political parties.

Nigeria needs a new voice

A week ago, I wrote about how Nigerians will once again remain trapped with a poverty of choices for the presidential election and be forced to pick between two uncomfortable choices in 2019.

The pessimistic conclusion in that article was based on the glaring fact that there simply is an abundant lack of momentum by outsiders to cause an upset to the two-party structure in time for the election next year, at least not for the presidential race.

However, there's a decent possibility that Obasanjo just attempted to tip that balance without actively contributing to it in an obvious way.

Throughout his statement, the former president made several references to how he only wants what's best for the country.

The country will, no doubt, benefit greatly from the emergence of a third option that can realistically measure up against the big boys on the big stage in time for 2019.

Even though it remains unclear what Obasanjo is trying to do here exactly, time will definitely tell on just what the Coalition for Nigeria movement is all about.

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