Party Merger: The Citizens’ Perspectives

With the recent merger efforts of some prominent opposition parties in the country, Nigerians are patiently awaiting their formal introduction to a formidable opposition platform after successfully scaling the INEC registration hurdle. But will they make the necessary political difference in 2015?? CHIBUNMA UKWU sounds out the stakeholders.

It is not all the time that parties come together to fight the ruling party. This perhaps is a key reason the ongoing opposition parties merger in the country is making waves, with Nigerians pondering how the merger would bring transformation to the electoral system of the nation. LEADERSHIP SUNDAY learnt that the aim to transform the political platform of the nation remains the sole purpose the merger of parties is taking place.

Giving highlights on that, the former Head of State, General Muhammadu Buhari acknowledged that the vision behind the merger will uphold the new party. He stated, “A brief glance at the political history of Nigeria confirms that to hold power at the center, you need broad coalition and alliance. But today, the situation is different. The country is in the grip of a bad government whose only purpose is to retain power. This country is tired of PDP, we are tired of oppression; we are tired of corruption, we are tired of insecurity.”

Describing the situations that led to merger of parties, the Head of Litigation, Durueke’s Law firm, Barr. Lucky Durueke revealed merger of parties as the coming together of opposition parties to take power from the ruling party. According to him, merger of parties happens in all countries of the world and presently, it is timely in the nation as it seems power has come to be concentrated in a particular party than others for long.

“This merger simply means let us now form one common party to be able to be able to face a party that is like a ruling party and PDP is the ruling party of this country. That means a party against all others, thus to be able to face and counter it, you must come up with a machinery that is able to face it. This is what I consider as the reason the merger is coming up at this time.

PDP is the ruling party of this country and to affirm that they do not want to go down, they have formed a Governor’s forum of their own, which simply means; let PDP not die. So the merger is timely because that is the only way they could muster up strength to face PDP.”

Affirming the timely merging of the parties, the former deputy Minority leader, Hon. Nelson Alapa also stated that the merger came as a response to the yearnings of the public who have been under a deceitful government and clamour for a change.

Speaking to LEADERSHIP SUNDAY, he further asserted the necessity of the party merger especially at a time as this. “I consider this merger as very necessary and timely as it is a response to the yearnings of Nigerians who have been stuck with bullock of deceit by the ruling party. So the merger came at the nick of time when Nigerians are clamouring for a change. Of course, it appeared there is no hope until eventually the circumstances of merger came up and you will agree that the whole public actually accepted, and welcomed the development with high enthusiasm.”

He went further to reveal the essence of the merger to the future political dispensation. “I am very optimistic and do believe that in the near future, if the process of merger is fully consummated, it is going to usher into this country a new hope, a new sense of consciousness by the people so I am very optimistic and so is every personality in this country about the emergence of the mega party.”

However, as Nigerians observe the turn out of the merger, there have been predictions that personal ambitions are likely to derail the aspirations of APC, of which Hon. Alapa acknowledged has not come to play. This, he said, is seen from the name of the All Progressives Congress which he said was drawn by consensus.

That notwithstanding, most Nigerians do not share this view and wonder if the party in the future would be bound by the purpose that brought them together. Dwelling on this, an Abuja-based Legal practitioner, Barr. Ego Ezuma expressed fear about the party stating that Inability to fulfill political promises by politicians remains part of the problems that sets the nation backward.

“You know one of the problems that we have in Nigeria is unfulfilled promises; people make promises that they do not keep. It is things like this that causes problems because the parties involved did not get to keep their agreements at the formative stage. This is my fear that the merger but constitutionally, they have rights to merge. However, the questions remain whether they will succeed?

Thus, the coming together of different political parties to fight the ruling party is not a new thing and happens in other parts of the world but the difference is that when you come to merge, the terms and conditions that you people agreed, that it is the purpose bringing you together, will you keep it? ”

However, she acknowledged that the impact of the party especially to the nation would depend on the ability of the leaders to hold on to the very purpose that led to the merging of the parties.

Speaking more on the challenges that the mega party is likely to encounter especially as regards registration of the party which Nigerians speculate could prove problematic, Barr. Durueke held that the party is not likely to encounter problems during registration as Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) have laid down requirements for the formation of parties which is expected to be met by any party coming into existence and unless there are strenuous things to it, I do not foresee the registration of APC as a challenge. He further backs this point with the fact that the merger of a new party is backed up by the constitution of the country.

“The merger is lawful, the constitution of this country allows freedom of association and there are criteria by the electoral acts that stipulate requirements for the formulation of a political party and if political parties in existence that have fulfilled those requirements decide to come together, it is not unlawful.

The question to ask about the merger is if the process or exercise of the merging itself is unlawful but the Nigerian constitution has not said that it is unlawful. All INEC would require from them is the procedure for the formation of a party. It is not the first time it is happening in this country and it is lawful.”

Furthermore, Hon. Alapa agreed that the party would come across challenges. However, he expressed hope in the ability of the party to conquer. “The challenges which we as human beings and politicians are expecting are the challenges of a new formation of a party which of course is natural.

You are going to be faced with selling your ideas and missions to the people; trying to drive what you believe to other people. These are what I consider as imminent challenges that we will encounter but that of course, we can get over. As a matter of fact, the first hurdle has been conquered which is the question of if we have the product that is sellable so in that regard, I do not envisage abnormal challenges.”

That notwithstanding, he called for focus on the dividends which the merger would bring which according to him includes a change in the nation’s politics. “You know that the coming together of these parties could not have been without a mission and a vision. I believe there is a vision and the need to actually effect the yearning change in this country.

This is the very reason I sound it strongly that the mega party will bring about something that is different from what we have had in the past 14 years.? I also believe that there is going to be a manifesto for the people as this party will be about pursuing government to be for the people by the time they come on board. However, I am not predicting but assuming that they will come out with the best manifesto that has ever been in existence in the politics of this country.”

Sharing the same view, Barr. Durueke equally affirmed the role which the APC will play in decentralizing? power from the ruling party, and describes it as beneficial to Nigerians. “The purpose of the merging is what we should know. They want to make sure that there is transparency in the political processes of this country, they want to make sure that 2015 and other elections come out free and fair. They believe that when they merge, they will have better candidates that will win the election through the merger. But it will correct some things in the society.

So going by that, it will benefit the country if they merge. But my fear is that, the merging if it is not motivated by either ethnic or personal interest by a certain group; if people who can start it and fund it and make it come to pass, it will deviate from what we are hearing now.

But if the original purpose is what it is going to be which I believe is to raise strong opposition to the ruling party, then it is a welcome development which will benefit the state.”

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