Dr. Ope Banwo, the founder of Naija Lives Matter (NLM), a non-governmental organization committed to better lives for Nigerians has explained the organization’s decision to refocus its priorities.
In a statement released on Tuesday, Dr. Banwo stated that the organization’s mission and goals extend beyound the 2023 elections, electioneering campaigns, and politics.
According to him, the process of the organization had been clearly communicated from its very beginning to avoid any accusations of opportunism or policy inconsistencies, which are unfortunately common in our country when disagreements arise.
He said; “Since 2011, the NLM organization has consistently de-emphasized its partisan support for any specific candidate after the elections and campaigns are over, enabling it to concentrate on its global mandate of making Naija lives matter to all Nigerians, irrespective of their political affiliations.
“When Naija Lives Matter endorsed Peter Obi as our chosen candidate in August 2022, we made it clear that our partisan involvement would solely extend until the conclusion of the elections. Subsequently, we would focus on other aspects of our mission and goals, for which our organization was founded in 2011.
“In the past, we supported Jonathan through the GEJ project, rallied behind Buhari through the Buhari4Naija project in 2015, and even had a Moghalu4Naija project before eventually endorsing Peter Obi for the 2023 elections.
“Our commitment is not irreversibly tied to any particular politician; it lies in what we believe is in the best interest of Nigeria and its people,” Dr. Banwo said.
With the transition, NLM now moves beyond the recent election cycle, with a current focus on organizing projects aimed at making the lives of all Nigerians better.
“Henceforth, we shall therefore leave the legal and political affairs to lawyers and politicians, and respect the decisions of the courts, whatever they may be.
“In alignment with our mandate and the previously declared engagement period for the 2023 elections, we hereby inform our members that Naija Lives Matter will now shift its focus towards other aspects of our charter such as mass non-partisan mobilization on national issues, youth empowerment training, workshops, community assistance services for the less privileged in Nigeria, and other activities.
“In light of this new direction, we will convene meetings with our state directors and cell leaders to announce additional NLM initiatives that extend beyond politics in the coming days. These initiatives will focus on non-partisan national mobilization, youth empowerment through training and workshops, and community-building responsibilities.
“All our threads on WhatsApp and other social media platforms will once again be dedicated to NLM as we officially conclude the Peter Obi Nation Project for the 2023 elections,” Dr. Banwo noted.
Thanking members of the Peter Obi Nation Project of the NLM organization for their tremendous efforts during the 2023 elections, Dr. Banwo said that together they fought valiantly in a highly contested electoral process, adding that together they gave as much as they got in the very bitter partisan electioneering campaign for the organization’s endorsed candidate, Peter Obi.
“We did not compromise and many of us even paid the price of alienating some of our long-term friends in the heat of partisan battle.
“To this end, I am immensely proud of every individual involved in this monumental battle, and it has been an honor serving as the Chief Vawolence Officer for Naija Lives Matter side of things during this 2923 election cycle. We also offer No apologies for our passionate campaign for what we passionately believed in. It was what it was.
Acknowledging the fact that many individuals who joined NLM’s special Peter Obi Nation Project were primarily interested in supporting the Labour Party (LP) presidential candidate, and may not share NLM”s broader mandate and NGO charter, Dr. Banwo said that the organization would understand if those solely focused on partisan politics choose to disassociate themselves from the NLM organization across it numerous groups and threads, adding that the organizational continuity transcends any single election cycle.
“To be clear, this pivot by NLM does not mean we no longer support Peter Obi. We continue to stand behind his 2023 mandate which we believed in, wholeheartedly. Nevertheless, our organization was not established solely for this election cycle. We have followed the same refocusing approach after the elections in 2011 and 2015. Although the intensity of this cycle was undeniable, our policy remains intact.
“We hope that our fellow compatriots engaged in the highly intense campaign for 2023 will understand and respect our decision to shift away from combative partisan politics at this juncture. Instead, we aim to engage the Tinubu government in a non-partisan yet critical manner, reminding them of their promises and holding them accountable. Should the courts later remove him from office, we will also celebrate. But for now, we have a country to assist in governance.”