The emergence of a newly minted ‘third force,’ Rescue Nigeria Project (RNP), led by ideologues, like Professors Attahiru Jega and Pat Utomi, on the political page, is a reflection of the dissatisfaction of Nigerians with the current political order. No doubt, the country is in need of a movement that could dig it out of the pit and guide it to a better destiny, but this cannot be achieved through populist statements, which previous ‘third forces’ were known for. Those like Coalition for Nigeria Movement (CNM), Nigeria Intervention Movement (NIM), Alliance for the Defense of Democracy (ADD), and even the National Consultative Front (NCFront), had appeared on the scene in name and disappointingly fizzled out.
Professor Utomi, speaking about RNP, said, “What is pushing us is the fact that the country is dying and this is a direct consequence of bad leadership. The need to save Nigeria, you don’t have to explain to anybody, it is staring everybody in the face.” He said the focus of RNP was to set criteria for the next leaders, but in reality, what Nigeria needs urgently are not just prescriptions, but leaders who could rescue the people from the powerful minorities, oligopolies, cliques and lobbies, that have governed the country aground. This country is in dire need of leaders who could knock down all the old walls that separate Nigeria from progress.
Though the ‘third force’ is relevant at this juncture in Nigeria’s political experience, the promoters of the movements must enunciate clear-cut political and economic ideology, and demonstrate the commitment to actualize them. There are examples of such movements in other climes. For instance, in 2016, now French President Emmanuel Macron, formed a political movement, Le Republique En March (The Republic on the Move), with progressive ideology that united both the left and the right. As a result of his commitment to the vision, Macron was able to mobilize the French who, a year later, voted massively to elect him president in 2017. Even in the recent 2021 general elections in Germany, the Green Party, an environmentalist political party that traces its origin to students movement, posted an impressive outing, winning 15 per cent of the federal elections. These and several examples from democracies across the world show that a genuine ‘third force’ on rescue mission could potentially emerge as a ruling party.
For the RNP and other groups like it to be relevant to the yearnings of this country, they must work to ensure the buy-in of the public through mass mobilization and grassroots movement. At present, the levers of power are controlled by a few, but concerted efforts by elements who constitute the ‘third force’ at enlightening voters at the grassroots level could be a game-changer. Though elections are bought by money-bags, an exception was recorded in the 2015 election when the perception that Muhammadu Buhari could rescue the country from its predicaments made the poor and peasants to reject monetary inducement to vote for the All Progressives Congress (APC) for Buhari to emerge as president. That feat could still be replicated by a serious-minded political movement.
We call on the architects and builders of ‘third forces’ in the country to either fuse into a formidable political party to wrest power or join any of the existing and vibrant political parties, reform them, and contest elections on their platforms in order to implement the ideas they have come up with. Indeed, the country is dysfunctional because of the ambiguities in the 1999 Constitution. It is also a fact that the country lacks a clear and concise national economic policy that could galvanize the revitalization of industries and energize economic growth. But those who know how to solve these problems must get into the mud and work at them, instead of preaching to a tribe of opportunist political leaders whose selfish agenda are being served by the current disorderly system.
The emergence of the ‘third force’ must go beyond whetting our appetite for good governance; it must seriously work at getting involved in power struggle to occupy the driver’s seat and put into practice what it preaches.