Four opposition political parties take steps to merge in order to dislodge the ruling PDP in 2015
| By Ishaya Ibrahim | Feb. 18, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT
A NEW political party known as the All Progressives Congress, APC, has emerged in the country’s political horizon. Its main goal is to form a formidable opposition against the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the 2015 general elections. The name of the new party was unveiled to the media by Tom Ikimi, a chieftain of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, in Lagos, February 6.
The unveiling of the APC follows an announcement February 5, that four political parties namely the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, the ACN, the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, and the Congress for Progressives Change, CPC, had merged to form a mega political party whose name was not given. This raised some doubts in some political circles across the country as to the reality of the merger. But doubts were dispelled the following day when Ikimi faced the media.
The idea of merger by some political parties in Nigeria ostensibly by the ANPP, ACN and the CPC is not new. Past efforts in this direction failed because of lack of trust and commitment among their leaders. But indications that the four political parties were serious this time around emerged when 10 of their governors met at the Lagos House on February 5, after which the merger announcement was made.
The governors who attended the Lagos House meeting were Rochas Okorocha of APGA, from Imo State; Kashim Shettima, of ANPP from Borno State; Abdulazeez Yari, ANPP, Zamfara State and Ibrahim Gaidam, ANPP from Yobe State, who was represented by Degere Alkali, his deputy. Others were Umaru Al-Makura of the CPC, from Nasarawa State and five other governors of the ACN, namely Kayode Fayemi, Ekiti State; Ibikunle Amosun, Ogun State; Rauf Aregbesola, Osun State, Abiola Ajimobi, Oyo State and Babatunde Raji Fashola, Lagos State who hosted the meeting.
In their statement, the governors said: “We, the governors from 10 states of the federation rose from a meeting at the Lagos House, Marina, today, Tuesday, February 5, 2013. Having reviewed the situation in our country, we resolved that to rescue Nigeria is a task that must be done.”
It is doubtful whether Okorocha got the mandate of his party to drag it into the merger. A statement by Ifedi Okwenna, national secretary of the party, said the Imo State governor was on his own. “We were never consulted by anybody before such a statement of our involvement was issued. For the avoidance of doubt, we wish to reiterate that the issue of merger with other political parties is not in the agenda of the All Progressives Grand Alliance for now.”
Analysts say one of the obstacles that stand in the way of the opposition parties in their bid to rout the PDP in 2015, is to find an acceptable presidential candidate. For Abdulazeez Ibrahim, a lawyer based in Kaduna, the merger would not lead to anywhere. “I believe that we must do certain things. First, remove zoning and two, federal character. After that, political positions will now be purely on merit because if these parties still merge, they will still share these political positions along ethnic lines and at the end of the day, we will return to what PDP has been doing,” Ibrahim said.
For Solomon Ndokuro, an Abuja-based political analyst, the merger will eventually collapse because Buhari has already said he would consider running again. “The ACN already has the feeling that it is the senior partner in this alliance and would want to produce the presidential candidate. How can they resolve that?” he queried. He also believes that the merger would collapse when it gets to the time of sharing party positions.
But Haddy Ametuo, ACN chairman in Kogi State, said the merger would provide Nigerians a unique opportunity to dethrone the PDP which has been ruling for years without delivering the dividends of democracy to Nigerians. “I believe our national leaders would not allow this golden opportunity to slip off their hands,” Ametuo said.
Bamanga Tukur, PDP national chairman, said the idea of a strong opposition party is welcome because it would serve as a call to action. But he declared that no matter the number of political parties that merge, PDP remains the most acceptable and widespread party in the country. He likened the PDP as the Lionell Messi of Nigeria’s politics and who can dribble all oppositions.
Olisa Metuh, PDP national publicity secretary, is confident that the merger would usher in healthy debates on how to improve the economy, the health sector and other sectors. “PDP as a political party will only caution against deceit, falsehood and inciting Nigerians to violence, evil propaganda and other issues that are detrimental to the development of our democracy. We are willing and able to face them in the field at the appropriate time,” Metuh said.
Political analysts believe the four political parties still have a long process to undergo before securing the nod and recognition of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC. One of such process is the endorsement of the merger plan by each of the political parties at its national convention. This could be an uphill task for Okorocha.