By Clifford Ndujihe & Olayinka Ajayi
LEADERS of the National Consultative Front, NCF, a frontline political pressure group, on Monday, dissected the state of the nation and returned a grim verdict: Nigeria is on the edge the brink and all hands must be on the deck to save the country.
Consequently, the leaders said they are returning to the trenches to halt the free fall into the abyss.
Leaders of the group, who spoke on Monday at its maiden briefing held via zoom, include former presidential candidate, Professor Pat Utomi, and former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Ghali Umar Na’Abba.
We’re at ‘if we die, we die’ stage
Apart from his speech, Professor Utomi told Vanguard they could no longer afford to stay in their comfort zones because “ we are at the stage of if we die, we die.”
His words: “The NCF is a child of necessity. It is clear that our country is drifting badly. The executive branch and legislative branch seem to be confused over what their roles are.
“It just seems that what they are doing is struggling for spoils. Corruption has become so frightening. We saw the reality show from the National Assembly on the NDDC probes. By the time they get to key parastatals, we will all be on the ground. That’s how bad it is.”
How Nigeria can move out of despair
Noting that the basis of politics is to right the wrong when something goes wrong, Utomi continued:
“How can Nigerians move out of despair that we see everywhere? How can democracy be by the people and for the people rather than for politicians and by politicians?
“If we don’t stop these things (President Muhammadu) Buhari will want to extend his stay. We must massively mobilise people and have the kind of orange revolution that they had in Ukraine to take our country back.
Politicians must be sensible, rise to the occasion
“If politicians are sensible and don’t want to end up the way Nicolae Ceau’escu ended up, that he was killed on the street like a dog, they better begin to wind back now and make laws that would stop the godfatherism business and have people who are willing to serve selflessly for a limited period of time.
“We want a part-time legislature.
“Our aim is to layout a system that will bring out people who are ordinarily not interested in politics and in what is going on in the society, especially the youth because it’s their future that is being ruined.
“We will mobilise them massively. So, it’s a coalition of interest that will advance all.
“I was in Cairo, when the Arab spring started. I saw ordinary people passionate about taking their country back. So that can be done here.
“There is nothing different. Youths keep talking about the fear of being arrested, in our days, we were arrested several times and were released.
“When late Solomon Lar and others went to see late General Sani Abacha, they said, ‘we have to go, if we die, we die’. We must get to the stage of if we die, we die and that is where we are now.”
Duty to save Nigeria
Before the chat with Vanguard, Utomi had in a speech titled: ‘’A Duty to save Nigeria,’’ recalled many times the people and leaders had risen in the past to save Nigeria, saying leaders of the NCF are determined “to take action, mobilise the people and insist on a peaceful path to progress in the face of deteriorating conditions in our national life.”
He decried the flickering flames of violence and killings across the country, high-wire graft, and cost of governance, saying: “Sadly, for our history, I have been here several times before.
“I was here when as a 19-year-old student leader in Nigeria went through two coups resulting in the end of the Gowon era and the killing of General Murtala Mohammed. And we had to get on the streets to protest the state of the nation.
How patriots saved Nigeria in the past
“I was there in 1993 when the election of Chief MKO Abiola was annulled by a handful of officers. I was on the streets even though I was a dozen years past typical age of street protests.
“I then helped call out professionals who were concerned for their country. The Concerned Professionals helped end military rule.
“Again in 2009 when the Presidency was taken hostage by a cabal and a very gravely ill President (Umaru Musa) Yar’Adua battled for his life, I was there. We called out citizens to A Save Nigeria movement. And we saw a doctrine of necessity pull us through.
“In recent weeks as many of us watched corruption reality shows from the National Assembly, looming constitutional crisis between the executive and legislative arms of government, terror on the streets and our rural backyards, insurgency, and banditry, mixed with harrowing kidnapping and rape cases, we have come to a realisation that the imperative of now is that of awakening Nigerians to the urgency of saving Nigeria.
“We face an existential crisis today.”
Nigeria sliding into anarchy
Concurring, Na’ Abba said: “Over the past two decades of our new democratic experience, we have had to watch our dear country, with dismay, disappointment and utter shock, slide into anarchy, collapse, ruin and rot.
“The promise that democracy held for us has become elusive to realise. The country has been left to drift.
“Hardly can any sector of the country be said to be working as the government seems ineffectual, irresponsive and incompetent.
“Unemployment, particularly among our youths has reached and passed unprecedented levels, while the unnecessary loss of human lives due to insecurity has become a recurring decimal with scores of Nigerians being killed on a daily basis.
“Our indebtedness, both internal and external, has reached alarming proportions with the attendant virtual collapse of social and physical infrastructure leading to pervasive and grinding poverty.
“The way and manner governance is conducted suggests a high degree of irresponsibility at all levels.
‘’The general feeling across the land today is that of delusion, hopelessness and helplessness. The agony and anguish of Nigerians about the deplorable state of our nation are palpable and worrisome.
“The feeling also on the part of many Nigerians is that the days ahead as a Country are numbered.”