A series of activities meant to strengthen the ongoing merger of Nigeria’s opposition parties has been lined up, LEADERSHIP SUNDAY has gathered. They include the election of national officers of the new All Progressive Congress (APC) this week, a prominent leader of one of the parties said.
To avoid the mistakes of the past, the merger committee will meet on Wednesday to work on the constitution, manifesto, convention and other topical issues to ensure the smooth take-off of the party, said the source who did not want to be named.
Yet another leader of a major party in the alliance said the major stakeholders are expected to hold their national convention to officially dissolve into the new platform on or before June this year.
He hinted that the interim leadership to pilot the affairs of the party may emerge at the planned meeting but refused to disclose the venue and time of the parley.
The leading opposition parties in the country had, last week, sealed a deal to merge ahead of the 2015 presidential election to wrestle power from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
It was learnt that when the merger becomes a reality, its key offices could go this way: ACN — national chairman and national publicity secretary; CPC — national secretary; ANPP — treasurer and national vice chairman; while APGA would produce the national organising secretary.
Although none of the members of the merger committee accepted to be quoted on the issues, LEADERSHIP SUNDAY has it on good authority that the failure of the opposition to come together in 2011 was due to its lateness in addressing critical issues such as the sharing of key party and elective positions.
‘‘We still have two more years to prepare. I can tell you categorically that meetings are going on at the level of leadership. We know some would go and some would join. We are also aware that sacrifices, dedication and commitments are important. Give and take would also come in. All these would be addressed before the general election. I can assure Nigerians that we would not disappoint them this time around,’’ a member of the committee said.
Another member of the panel disclosed that, but for Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the ANPP would not have been carried along because of the way and manner they treated Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, who had contested under its platform twice. ‘‘But Asiwaju Tinubu told Gen.Buhari that the new national chairman of the party is more credible and reliable as he has never been a member of the ruling party. We are aware of how a former governor wanted the BoT of that party to vote against the merger but it was the chairman that stopped him.
‘’All these differences would have been resolved before the election. This was why we are starting on time. Some would come as spies; events would expose them. All we saying is enough is enough,’’ he said.
The opposition governors had met in Lagos to discuss the merger, saying it was necessary to bring change to a country that is Africa’s largest oil producer but where deep poverty remains and corruption is endemic.
“At no time in our national life has radical change become more urgent,” said a statement read to reporters in the capital Abuja by ex-foreign affairs minister Tom Ikimi of the Action Congress of Nigeria. “And to meet the challenge of that change, we the following progressive political parties, namely ACN, ANPP, APGA and CPC, have resolved to merge forthwith and become the All Progressive Congress.”
PDM Lauds Opposition Over Merger
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM), a political pressure group founded by the late Gen. Shehu Yar’Adua, has welcomed the recent merger of opposition parties in the country.
In a communiqué issued at the end of its meeting, PDM urged the opposition to go beyond rhetoric and provide Nigerians with progressive ideology capable of pulling the country out of its current predicament.
The communiqué reads in part: “The movement received briefing on the ongoing merger talks among opposition political parties in the country and commended the opposition for its resolve to give Nigerians an alternative political platform. We call on all opposition political parties and organisations across the country to close ranks in order to provide Nigerians with a clear choice between conservative and progressive ideologies.
“While we are gladdened by this development, we implore the opposition to define its own identity based on progressive ideology, with clear and contrasting policies and programmes capable of pulling Nigeria out of the current state of despoliation, despair and debasement. Telling Nigerians how bad things are simply won’t suffice. Clear and practical solutions are what Nigerians need.
PDM is developing a clear roadmap for the entrenchment of profound national social, political and economic reforms which will lead to creating jobs, steady power supply, improved security, transparent and credible elections and bringing corruption in all its manifestations to a standstill.”