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Politics of Thursday, 23 September 2021

Source: punchng.com

Jega, Utomi groups, others team up against APC, PDP, unveil party Oct 1

Attahiru Jega and a  political economist, Professor Pat Utomi Attahiru Jega and a  political economist, Professor Pat Utomi

Prominent Nigerians including a former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Attahiru Jega and a  political economist, Professor Pat Utomi, will on October 1 unveil a  mega political movement.

The PUNCH on Wednesday gathered the mega group, which would later transform into a political party, would challenge the country’s dominant parties, the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party.

This came to the fore on Wednesday as INEC told The PUNCH that 95 groups had applied to it to be registered as political parties. But for the new mega group planned for October 1, it was learnt that talks had reached an advanced stage for the merger of some existing opposition political parties as part of the new movement.

A source privy to the development, who spoke to one of our correspondents in confidence, explained that the focus of those involved in the new group was to push for electoral and political reforms. The source said, “By God’s grace, we will be unveiling our movement on October 1 to coincide with Nigeria’s 61st independence anniversary.

We cannot call it a political party for now because talks are still ongoing. “I’m aware that talks between leaders of the Peoples Redemption Party including Professor Attahiru Jega, those of the African Democratic Congress including its National Chairman, Chief Ralph Nwosu and the Labour Party, have reached an advanced stage.

“The proposal being considered is the collapse of the structures of existing political parties involved into one strong one. We recognise the fact that forming a political party from the scratch is both cumbersome and capital intensive.“It will involve getting offices across the 36 states of the federation and Abuja and going through all kinds of hurdles before being registered by the Independent National Electoral Commission and we know time is of the essence.

“To avoid this, we are looking at first agreeing on terms of engagement. We will adopt a name, hold our conventions where structures will be collapsed into one then we will approach INEC for a change of name to reflect our new identity.”In response to a question on what was holding the body from fully identifying itself as a political party, the source said, “With the current Nigerian political structure,  we don’t want to just join the fray.

We need to make a difference that is why we are first pushing for electoral reforms. We will be working with like-minded people to push for the electronic transfer of election results and changes in Nigeria’s constitution to make it truly representative of ‘we’ the people.’’There was confusion over the status of a group, Rescue Nigeria Project, which was unveiled by a former presidential adviser and diplomat, Dr Usman Bugaje, in Abuja, on Tuesday.A section of the media had reported that Tuesday’s meeting was the unveiling of a political party.

Some of those listed as attending were Jega, Utomi, a former Governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke; a former Kwara State Governor, Abdelfattah Ahmed; Senator Lee Maeba and Professor Tunde Adeniran among promoters of the new party.However, several persons, who attended the event said nothing of the sort was discussed. 

Attempts to get clarification from the convener of the event were futile. Calls to his mobile telephone number were neither picked nor returned. A response to a text message sent to him on the subject was still being awaited as of the time of filing this report.

However, a former Minister of Education and retired politician,  Adeniran who attended the event, explained that the gathering discussed good governance and what was required to move the nation forward.He told The PUNCH, “I have since retired from partisan politics.

However, I have made myself available to give advice as well as guidance in order to continue to contribute my quota to national development. I am certainly not forming any political party.Another attendee, who is a leading member of the PDP in Rivers State, Senator Lee Maeba, dissociated himself from the formation of a new political party.Maeba, who spoke to one of our correspondents on the telephone on Wednesday, said the Rescue Nigeria Project event he attended in Abuja, on Tuesday, was not for the formation of a new party but for the advancement of good governance.

He said, “The majority of us there are PDP members. In fact, some of us who were there were agitating that we should close early because they are members of PDP zoning committee and that a meeting was ongoing then.“I have been a PDP member since 1998 and I don’t have another party.

If I have not joined the APC, what is the need of forming another one?“I did not discuss anything about the formation of a new party. That was the first time I attended the meeting. When I saw the names of those involved, I was attracted to talk on good governance. I am an advocate of good governance.

“It was a seminar and the theme was good governance. Even the organiser, Usman Bugaje,  did not talk about political parties. What they talked about was good governance and how to strengthen political parties to ensure good governance, that’s all. Nobody mentioned the party.“There are ways of forming a political party. The organisation will apply to INEC. 

It has to submit signatures. Is my signature on any paper? There was nothing like that.“We believe that the place was infiltrated because how can a talk about good governance become a talk of formation of a party?“I did not enter a meeting with anybody to form a political party because I am a satisfied member of the PDP. The party is doing well in my state and the governor is doing very well. So why will I go and start forming another party?”

The National Consultative Front, being promoted by a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Umar Ghali Na’Abba and Utomi, described the formation of the RNP as a welcome development.

This was contained in a statement titled, “Leaders of Conscience, NC Front welcome the RNP to the third force Fold… Set to hold tactical talks with RNP, EndSars Movement, NIM, ADD, others to save Nigeria,” signed by the Media Assistant of NCFront, Yusuf Suleiman, in Abuja, on Wednesday.

He said leaders of conscience, under the auspices of National Consultative Front, a citizen-led mass political movement mobilising Nigerians towards emergence of a credible alternative mega political mass movement to save Nigeria from the misfortune foisted by the current self-serving ruling powers.He said the leaders supported the birth of Rescue Nigeria Project as a variant of the expanding the third force movement in Nigeria.

The NCFront said it was quite optimistic that the emergence of the RNP would strengthen the rescue agenda initiated by the NCFront in July 2020 under the leadership of  Na’Abba and  Utomi towards the emergence of a credible alternative third force political movement to save Nigeria from rudderless political leadership and exploitative governance.

The NCFront stated that in line with its founding mandate, it was prepared to fuse with all variants of the Third Force Movement including the RNP led by Dr Usman Bugaje, Nigeria Intervention Movement led by Dr Olisa Agbakoba SAN, the EndSars Movement and the yet to be launched Alliance for the Defence of Democracy, among others into one single formidable political bloc ahead of the 2023 elections in order to avoid the rigging of the 2023 elections.

According the group, such  a mega movement will  save Nigeria from anarchy and threatening insecurity foisted on it “as a result of the eroded legitimacy of ruling political leaders necessitated by flawed elections and unpopular mandate.”The statement further read,

“NCFront Technical Committee on merger of political parties and stakeholders being coordinated by Dr Tanko Yunusa, Ezekiel Nyak Etok, Chief Rasaq Eyiowuawi and others already has the mandate given by the National Steering Committee of the NCFront to carefully engage all stakeholders across party and sectional divides to work out template and structures for this compulsory ideological fusion for the third force movement”

“However, in the meantime, as a way forward in this direction, the NCFront leadership has decided to mobilise and bring every credible stakeholder and like-minded political party to together and launch an emergency national political coalition to champion the adoption of electronic transmission of election results for the 2023 elections.“To this end, like-minded progressive political leaders, stakeholders and groups in the leading political parties have been contacted and have agreed to join forces with the new coalition to be launched in Abuja on Friday, October 1,  2021.

“Others expected to play a major role in this new political coalition are respected labour and civil society leaders and notable elders, who have also agreed to serve as the new coalition’s advisers.”   ,,