Provisional Thoughts on the National Consultative Front

Olisa Agbakoba, Col. Abubakar Umar and Femi Falana

By Ike Okonta

The move by Col. Abubakar Umar, Olisa Agbakoba and Femi Falana among other leading Nigerian activists and intellectuals to establish a new political platform is in the right direction.

This initiative comes amidst the widespread realisation that the present crop of Nigerian politicians, in and out of office, have abysmally failed in giving the country a new lease of life following the depredations of military dictators, the sorry height of which was General Sani Abacha.

Ike Okonta

The National Consultative Front has not unfurled the details of its political and policy platform. Still, it needs to be pointed out that the national question (return to a proper federal structure with its fiscal accompaniments) and a cohering ideology that grapples with the brutal fact that half of the Nigerian population of 200 million currently live below the poverty line are two central issues it must face squarely.
In addition, promoters of the Front must be willing to make the transition from perennial critics and activists to hard-headed politicians able to politic accross Nigeria’s ethnic and religious divides and craft a consensus able to galvanize the majority to vote for their party’s candidates come 2023.

Political activists make maximum demands. They are idealistic. They are unbending. But the good politician is able to give and take while fixing his eyes on the ultimate goal: Winning political power to be able to actually transform the lives of the citizenry for the better.

Nigeria has been ill-served by her politicians since independence in 1960. But these are not really politicians in the proper and noble sense of the word. They are careerists and carpet baggers who seek power in order to loot the treasury at state and national levels.

The time has come for a new order of politics in Nigeria: the politics of selfless service; the politics of lifting up the poor majority and in so doing lift up Nigeria. This is the challenge facing Col. Abubakar Umar, O lisa Agbakoba and their fellow travellers.

-Dr. Ike Okonta, a policy analyst and writer, fellow of the Open Society Institute, New York, research fellow in Oxford University’s department of politics and international relations, and co-author of Where Vultures Feast: Shell, Human Rights and Oil, writes from Abuja