My fear for the Third Force

By Sunny Ikhioya

THESE are interesting times. Our politicians are at it again, trying to paint what is black as white and vice versa. We -the ordinary folks – are left wondering but can do nothing. We all know that having the voter’s card alone does not guarantee victory, the Permanent Voters Card (PVC) has to be fruitfully utilised and other activities properly monitored. A million ants cannot lift an elephant, they will be crushed in the process. How will the ordinary Nigerian see his political dreams actualised without getting crushed? That is the challenge that we are  faced with.

The past three years have shown that our politicians of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP and the All Progressive Congress, APC  are the same. Despite the rhetoric, we have seen that no significant value has been added to the lives of the ordinary citizens. It has all been recycled ideas and activities, even the anti corruption strategy is same with what we had witnessed in the past, nothing new. This was the state we were – of ‘siddon look’ or do nothing – until the former president Olusegun Obasanjo came out with his expository letter to President Mohammadu Buhari. The letter has reverberated reactions both locally and internationally but, before then, Oby Ezekwesili, former minister, had mooted the idea of supporting any group that is ready to take on both the APC and the PDP,  head on, in the elections of 2019, not many people took notice.

Femi Falana (SAN), had publicly expressed the tragedy to the nation, of having only President Buhari and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar running for the position of President in the coming election. No  one  took note too but, since Obasanjo intervened, the situation has taken a new turn. The idea of a Third Force or third major political party is beginning to crystallise, people are now emboldened to act or speak up, even the usually reserved body of Catholic Church Bishops have come out to express their dissatisfaction with the way the country is been governed during their visit to the President. All parties are beginning to strategise as a result of the situation. The ruling APC could not find the voice to tackle Obasanjo frontally. They only issued a tepid and diplomatic response through the Minister of information Hon. Lai Mohammed.

It is clear that there has not been succour in the land. People are suffering , while others are being slaughtered without a thought. With the apparent inability of the government to tackle these issues, the country is now polarised along ethic  lines to the extent that have not been seen before. The cry for change is palpable. The ruling party is aware of this and the main opposition party is trying to capitalise on the situation. They have started the promise game again, knowing that the gullible public will fight themselves to death over nothing, with the mere introduction of religious and ethnic sentiments. Since the APC and PDP parties, having been tried and tested and failed to give us the required succour, there is a need for a third party that will consist of true progressives and patriots, who will stand for what is right, even in the face of death.

We have seen them before, in the likes of late Aminu Kano, Balarabe Musa, late Tai Solarin, late Gani Fawehinmi, the late Kuti brothers – Beko and Fela and many others. Can we find one of such amongst our present crop of politicians? I ask because we have so many who have pretended to be comrades and progressives, now in the present APC party and in the midst of the dismal performance of the present day government , have refused to come out of their shell. I cannot explain it; is it for pecuniary gains, or power, or just to belong? What has made our progressives  suddenly go quiet in the midst of the terrible happenings in our land? Some of these pretenders have shamelessly come out to join the bandwagon of continuity. And you ask, continuity to where? To hell or to heaven?

It is an irony that the one promoting the third force movement is Olusegun Obasanjo, an establishment man, a known member of the ruling class, who was once the President and had taken part in the installation of all Presidents after him. He is now the pivot of the Third Force movement, what an irony! With Obasanjo as the leader or pivot of the Third Force movement, what type of people should we find there? Retired, disgruntled, and recycled PDP and APC members. Therein lies my fear for the Third Force movement. Ordinarily, it is a timely and welcome development.The people seriously desire for a true change, with a genuine leadership that will take the people’s interest as paramount, not the ones who will  give excuses  when they assume office. People who have a thorough grasp of the challenges confronting this country and are ready to hit the ground running, since they know the steps to take.

It is a shame that the ruling party is fighting  to re-present a candidate who took all of six months to put a cabinet in place, in a country with an emergency situation. It is a shame that people are not courageous enough to tell their  party leaders that they have failed and request that such leaders step aside. It is a shame that we keep quoting and referring to democracy in other climes and pretend that all is well when it comes to ours. Are  there no progressives in the ruling party? Where are they? Do they not have credible and youthful candidates who can turn the country’s situation to a more improved level? Why the conspiracy of silence? This nation will never move forward unless we say and face the truth. People will come and go but the truth will remain constant.

It is better for us to embrace the truth on time, move on and allow generations coming behind to enjoy the foundation laid and build on it. A Third Force that will accord every member their individual rights is what we crave for. It does not matter if they win the elections of 2019 or not. What matters is that such a party is established and instituted.