In continuation of his mobilisation of the younger generation of Nigerians to wrest power from the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government, former President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday urged members of his ‘Third Force’ to brace up and take up the challenges of salvaging the country from its myriad of problems.
Obasanjo, while speaking at a town hall meeting held at the Amusement Park, Agbowo, Ibadan, Oyo State, where the Coalition for Nigeria Movement (CNM) members converged, said CNM can only achieve its objectives by transforming and being part of whatever it is as a political party.
He assured that the philosophy of whatever CNM is and what it will transform to will not be different.
The former president said, “We have not had a political party in this country that is grounded in the grassroots. All our political parties are elitist. We have not got a party in this country that has given a pride of place to the youth.
“The youths under 40 years old form more than 65 per cent of our population. Now, who will tell you that becåause you are under 40 years old you cannot play a very significant role in the affairs of your country? I was head of state when I was under 40. Now, France has elected a president that is under 40 years old. Botswana has just elected a vice president at 32 years old.
“Now, what we are saying is that the youth must be given a pride of place. In all organs of CNM as a movement or a party that it will transform into, 30 per cent will be youths and 30 per cent will be women. Women form 52 per cent of our population. I urge you not to be tired because we have a lot of work to do. The leadership of this movement are ready to spearhead the work.
“Some people belieåve that those that are in position, whether they are doing well or not, must continue be there. But when we say they must not also be there, they will want to fight back. They will do many things to wreak havoc, but everybody must be prepared. It will not be easy to wrest power from them. If you think it will be easy to liberate Nigeria, you are deceiving yourself. But the God that did it yesterday will do it again today. We have seen this before. In this Nigeria, we have had a situation that we had five political parties and the five parties nominated one person as candidate for presidency. If only his nuclear family had voted for him, he would have won. But our God is wonderful. God laughed. Now, God is laughing. When the time came, God revealed that He’s God. He is the omnipotent, omnipresent and eternal, who can do all things and who can make all things possible. But if we are leaving things to God, we have to do our own side”.
Obasanjo further told the CNM members that if the movement eventually becomes a political party, he would cease being one of them.
“I want to repeat what I have always said – and don’t get me wrong: once this movement becomes a political party, I will no longer be a member of that party. But my concerns for Nigeria will not diminish. My struggle for the good of Nigeria, progress of Nigeria, unity of Nigeria, development of Nigeria will not diminish.
“Even now, I get people from other parties coming to me to seek advice. I don’t belong to them. I don’t have anything to do with them, but I give them advice. So that situation will continue. I will continue to look for the good of Nigeria wherever I am and whenever. The CNM, even when it becomes a political party, or it joins others, it cannot do it alone. There would have to be a grand alliance. But let me assure you of one thing; having got this far, I will not leave you high and dry and I know God will continue to be with us. Men of valour don’t run away from challenges and it is the same thing with women of honour, except lazy men and women.”
Obasanjo also faulted President Buhari over his comment on Nigerian youths. He said, “They said our youths are lazy. Recently, I was in the United States and I said our youths have gone through many things on the Sahara, in Libya and Mediterranean, and somebody would say they are lazy; their great, great grandfathers would never try to go that far.
“The opportunities and facilities that people like us enjoyed, including those that said it should not be like that, if we give these youths half of what we enjoyed, they will perform miracles. Education is the best gift that a nation can give to its youths. It is the best gift and preparation for life. Are we doing enough of that?
On how to make real change in governance, Obasanjo said, “The work has started. Some people may be laughing at you and make jest of you, don’t be bothered with that. Listen, permanent voter’s cards (PVCs) are your instruments. If you have not collected yours, go and collect it. If you are not yet registered, go and register. Let us tell them in all urban and rural areas that PVCs are what we will use. They are the key to open the doors.”
Obasanjo further told the members of the movement to be ready to face adversity and hostility in the struggle to redeem Nigeria.
“Don’t be afraid or be discouraged; they will try to intimidate you individually or collectively, but don’t be discouraged. It is only cowards who run away from the warfront. For me, I don’t think there is anyone that can intimidate me. Let me remind you, I have gone through many things. I have been jailed without being given any opportunity of defence. Where is the person that jailed me,?” he queried.
The former president also described those canvassing for the present administration to continue in office beyond its current tenure as enemies of Nigeria who do not wish the country well.
“If anybody wants this situation to continue, his head must be examined. Those of you who have been victimized by the situation and want the situation to continue can’t be friends of Nigeria.”
Present at the meeting were former governor of Osun State, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, who is the national coordinator of the movement; former deputy governor of Oyo State, Ambassador Taofeek Arapaja; two former Secretaries to Oyo State Government, Chiefs Olayiwola Olakojo and Ayodele Adigun, and one of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s close associates, Oyewole Fasawe, as well as a legal luminary, Hammed Raji (SAN).