The Summit of the Alternatives (SOTA): Solution to Nigeria’s Bane!

August 17, 2018

Ever since the fourth republican government that brought Chief Olusegun Obasanjo to power in 1999, the political baton of power had been with the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for 16 solid years before the emergence of All Progressives Congress (APC). The latter was formed in February 2013, as a result of an alliance of PDP’s three biggest opposition parties – the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) – and a faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) – merged to take up the ruling power from the People’s Democratic Party.

The emergence of All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2015 looked like answers to citizens long aged prayers as the political party came with gospel of “change”. An average citizen of Nigeria had high expectations and believed in the party’s manifesto. This explained why President Jonathan Goodluck was massively voted out of power in 2015.

It is more than obvious that the President Muhammadu Buhari led administration has failed to perform to citizens’ expectation. It is also not surprising that usual gale of defection which see some politicians cross carpet to other political parties is already in atmosphere even as 2019 general election is fast-approaching. Recent experience with the 2 major political parties – APC & PDP – looks more like Siamese twins who are connected to each other and have the same characteristics.

In response to the various economic challenges, political uphill and security threats in Nigeria, A coalition of like-minded organizations did partner to host a gathering termed the: “Summit of the Alternatives” (SOTA).

On Monday, 12th August, 2018, SOTA held a conference in Abuja. The conference is made up of coalition of Civil Society Organizations across Nigeria.

“The Summit of the Alternatives, (SOTA) saw the need to merge so as to put an end to the seeming recurrence of incompetent persons being elected into political offices. The group is believed to be working on a political coalition to restructure Nigeria’s leadership ahead of 2019”. Oby Ezekwesili, one of the members of the group, and convener, Red Card Movement, made this known at a news conference on the SOTA summit in Abuja.

Ezekwesili said that the move became imperative because since 1999, several political parties had exhibited a distinct lack of ideology, thereby merely using politics as a platform to seek electoral offices that translated to personal wealth.

She also said that the group would partner with the other 66 political parties besides People’s Democratic Party and All Progressives Congress to change the leadership narrative in the country. “SOTA” will start a paradigm shift in the mindset of Nigeria’s political class and a convergence of credible, competent and capable alternatives to lead by developing a framework for the right political system that crafts the Nigeria of our dream.

Ezekwesili said that Nigeria was in a precarious situation and needed a sense of urgency to take action, considering the citizens demand for quality leadership. She said that if Nigerians did not immediately fix the leadership crisis that its democracy had continued to suffer, citizens should have absolutely no basis to expect anything different from previous elections. She said that the missing link to Nigeria’s development had always been the quality of leadership.

Director, Kenya School of Law, Professor Patrick Lumumba; Senior Economic Advisor, Africa Economic Development Policy Initiative (AEDPI), Oby Ezekwesili; and other experts from BudgIT, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), YIAGA Africa, Enough is Enough, among others, said there must be alternative to the current political cabals in the country.

Speaking at the Summit of the Alternatives (SOTA), Lumumba said the political elite had continued to hold Nigeria back, despite its huge resources and human capacity. He concurred with other stakeholders that a paradigm shift in the mindset of Nigeria’s political class and a convergence of credible, competent and capable alternatives to lead the country were urgently needed.

“A new Nigeria is possible and can emerge,” Ezekwesili said, urging citizens to get involved in dictating the future of the country. The South East representative of the movement, Emeka Okoye, raised the alarm about challenges that await Nigerians if they continue to vote wrong leaders into political offices.

According to the technology expert, with the growing rate artificial intelligence and import of robots, over 60 per cent of current jobs in the country would be gone by 2030.He insisted that a sensitive government that would be guided by data and mitigate looming global challenges “is needed in Nigeria.”

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the coalition comprised of Centre for Democracy and Development, Enough is Enough, Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth & Advancement-Africa, Nigeria First, among others.

If the citizens of Nigeria can look beyond stomach infrastructure and join this new movement, maybe the change we crave for is already coming to play.