2023: How Far Can NCF Go?

July 20, 2020

The emergence of a new political movement, National Consultative Front (NCF) made up of known names has caused a stirring in the political space. But how far the group can go with their political adventure, ISRAEL DARAMOLA writes.

The buildup to 2023 general elections is gathering pace as seen in the upsets and tussles within political parties. But just as the parties are strategising to be ahead of the times, the emergence of a new political movement, National Consultative Front (NCF), indicates that the contest is shaping up to be intense.

While it remains hazy whether or not the NCF, formed some weeks ago, would eventually transform into a political party, a slight controversy trailed its membership as some known names denied any association with the movement.

The new political movement according to the report include former speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Ghali Na’abba, former deputy governor of the Central Bank, Obadiah Mailafia, Olisa Agbakoba, Femi Falana, Abubakar Umar, Oby Ezekwesili, Jibo Ibrahim, Yabagi Sanni, Nkoyo Toyo, Isa Aremu, Chidi Odinkalu and Shehu Sani.

While the array of members stirred the political waters in light of the activist bent of the movement, the dissociation of some persons from the activities of the group was insightful.

Personalities like Umar, Falana,  Sani and Agbakoba barely days after the emergence of NCF denied membership of the movement on grounds that they were not part of the meeting where the communique was issued and were not consulted before its establishment.

Agbakoba said: “My attention has been drawn to a widely circulated story that I am part of a new political movement known as the National Consultative Front. Without prejudice to the need for such a political movement, I want to place it on record that I was not consulted and so I am not part of the National Consultative Front.”

Also the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) kicked against the inclusion of some of its members in the new political party floated by some prominent Nigerians.

CUPP emphatically stated that while it appreciates the fact that the alleged crass performance of the present administration must have led to the formation of the political party, it however, stated that those associated with it (CUPP) at the meeting, attended in their individual capacities and not as its representatives.

Amid these controversies, leading political economist, Prof Pat Utomi came to their defense, underscoring the need to build a new national political movement to rescue Nigeria and address burning issues that put its corporate existence under threat.

Regardless of these early setbacks the NCF movement promised it would be citizen-driven and process-led in engendering a new peoples’ constitution.

According to the communiqué, they would embark on “immediate mass mobilization of the nooks and crannies of the country for popular mass action towards political constitution reforms that are citizens-driven and process-led in engendering a new Peoples’ Constitution for a new Nigeria that can work for all.

“The new movement shall also, without delay, mobilise for the economic wellbeing and prosperity of all Nigerians by demanding and ensuring that Chapter 2 of the present Constitution i.e. Fundamental Objectives & Directive Principles of State Policy becomes justiciable once and for all, while also mounting an articulate and vigorous campaign to deconstruct and reconstruct obnoxious election laws which have provided leeway for opportunists in the corridor of power to subvert the will of the electorate making voting irrelevant in determining who actually becomes elected in Nigeria.

“We decry in categorical terms, the ongoing mindless massacre and kidnappings in the North-west, North-east, Southern Kaduna, the Middle Belt, Southern part of Nigeria and in fact the country at large by armed bandits and insurgents, who invade our communities, especially at night to inflict terror and murder on hapless residents and unsuspecting indigenes,” the communique stated.

Obviously, the emergence of   political movements ahead of major elections is not new to Nigerians.

In the build up to the 2019 general elections, some political groups had also emerged, prominent of which was the coalition formed by some young aspirants desirous of upstaging the two major parties, APC and PDP during the election.

But the coalition disintegrated before the elections as they could not tame their individual interests. What’s more, some of the members in the botched coalition were accused of working surreptitiously for the major parties.

However, it would seem like the NCF is poised to engage the political space and raise the bar of discourse ahead of the 2023 polls, the question on the lips of many pundits is whether or not they can sustain the momentum.

Director of Social Economic Rights And Accountability Project (SERAP), Mr. Adetokunbo Mumini, in his reaction said in Nigeria, everyone is entitled to freely associate and to also form any organisation as long as such is done legally either on a civil platform or political.

“What I know and which is clear to all Nigerians is that anybody is entitled to be a member of an association, whether civil or political so it depends on what they plan to do as far as it brings them together, there is a constitutional right to freely associate and form an association as long as it is legal,” he said.

In his own reaction, the director of Partners for Electoral Reform (PER), Mr Ezenwa Nwagwu, described the new political movement as a mere brain work.

Nwagwu who also converner, Say No Campaign, said “If you look at this news flying around, you will realise that virtually  all of them have denied it and they have been issuing statements that nobody consulted them. So I think it is a brain will of somebody and that person has forgotten that they don’t do things like that.”

He added, “This particular one is a non-issue because virtually all the people involved have said they were not consulted, having said that, the formation of new political party is constitutional, it is an inalienable right of the citizens to decide to come together at any point in time they want to so do.”

However, the executive director of the Youth Initiative Advocacy for Growth and Advancement (YIAGA), Mr. Samson Itodo said he was pleased with the movement as long as it promotes the interest of Nigerians and restores the country’s lost political glory.

“It is a good thing if it is to promote reforms and to also try to chart a new cause for the country, I think it is a welcome idea that is why it is a democracy, people have the right to freely associate and to express their views with one another.”

Itodo however cautioned that the movement must be inclusive. “There is nothing wrong in that, but such a process must be to have inclusive and collaborative process, such statement that was released after that announcement showed that there is something fundamentally wrong about the strategies for consultation and mobilisation that was employed by the promoters of the reforms, I just hope that they have learnt from that particular process.

“You can’t lead a movement, especially a political movement of that nature to a national level without due consultation.”

Itodo further stressed that establishing a movement could not just be a wish but that it would be an idea that must have been nurtured before it translates to movement.

Itodo pointed out: “you must provide alternatives that people can see that are different from the two major political parties the APC and PDP. It will become a group of disgruntled politicians that have moved from these two platforms and there is no clear ideology, there is no clear plan and no clear goal, then it will be a waste of effort, that is why those who are promoting this movement have to be very clear on what they want, if they are ceasing political power by going to the ballot, what are they ceasing political power for?”

He however stressed that the idea for ceasing political power through ballot must be clear and should be about  taking people away from poverty, creating infrastructural development and providing security and quality education.

“If they are taking political power through the ballot, what are they taking political power for? Is it about taking people away from poverty, is it about creating infrastructural development, is it about providing security and quality education? You know these are the issues that people care about, people want to sleep with their two  eyes closed not with one eye opened, that they wake up to a society that recognises its merit and not primordial and parochial sentiments, a society that everyone has the dignity of his life,” he said.

On his part, an APC chieftain and legal practitioner, Abdulahi Muhammad, described the formation of the movement as one meant for the personal interest of those behind it, stressing that it cannot provide a strict agenda and generate ideas that can defeat the present administration as it were.

“The formation of the pressure group, political party or whatever you call it, does not just come up. It came up because of the aspirations of its founders. Perhaps, what they are expecting has not been captured by the government, they might be thinking that I have a better alternative, let me project my own organisation or a political platform, so that I will go and implement the programmes I want to see. But in the case of Nigeria, whoever you mention today has been in one political party or the other before now,” he said.

The group has, so far, volunteered to intervene in the political turmoil ahead of the governorship elections in Edo and Ondo States. For what it is worth, Nigerians are watching to see the quality of intervention that this new movement will bring.

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