There is a strong possibility that Nigeria may witness the emergence of a new party by April 2013 if the ongoing talks between the Action Congress of Nigeria, the Congress for Progressive Change and the All Nigeria Peoples’ Party is completed.
This is one of the strategies being explored by opposition politicians as they seek to defeat the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Power, which has been in power since Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999.
A number of analysts believe that a genuine and honest cooperation among opposition parties for 2015 polls has the power to make things tougher for the PDP.
The Chairman of the ANPP National Rebuilding and Interparty Contact Committee and former Kano State Governor, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, told journalists in Abuja on Sunday that the merger talks between the ANPP, CPC and the ACN was at the last stage.
He added that the chieftains of the three parties had put aside their individual ambitions and resolved to make the merger work. They had realized an alliance was not enough, so they decided to go for a full merger.
The ANPP chieftain said, “Certainly, we are going to submit our party certificates to the Independent National Electoral Commission after our merger. That is what a merger means. The Electoral Law is so clear on the procedure for a merger.
“If we decide to merge, the next thing is that we go back to our parties, call National Executive Committee meeting, and discuss with the members, in the presence of INEC officials. Then, you can call congress and that is all.”
He noted that ANPP and ACN were not new to merger processes, as ANPP used to be All Peoples’ Party, while the ACN used to be the Action Congress.
“The difference now is to pass a resolution and all this will be done simultaneously and we will inform INEC about it. This is what a merger means. The Electoral Act is clear on the process for a merger”
Failing that, another option would be for them to adopt the name of one of the existing political parties while the other two would dissolve into the adopted one, he said.
When asked if the parties had learnt any lessons from their failed ambition to merge in 2011, Shekarau responded in the affirmative and blamed it on their inability to commence the process early enough.
He said, “We started late then. In fact, the negotiation started when all the parties had concluded their congresses and had produced their own presidential candidates. That was what made it difficult. Who among the candidates would you have expected to step down?
“For example, I had won the presidential primary of the ANPP, with 2500 votes out of the total of 3000 cast. Now sitting in a room with 10 people, I cannot say I am stepping down for you because it is no longer my personal mandate.
“What do you tell the people who stood in the rain and sun, slept in the bus, on the roadside and overnight. And again, our party had already submitted names to the INEC, and when you merge, it is beyond elections.
“What do you do with elections like those of the governorship, where each party had its own candidate?
“The CPC, ANPP and ACN all had their candidates for other positions, who had spent money, canvassed votes and all that. that is why we said let all the parties go for the elections.”
The former presidential candidate said that the political parties are of the consensus opinion that the electoral ambitions of members should not come up during the talks.
“We are all coming to the table on equal terms. Whoever has any ambition is with his political party and not ours now. We are all talking on the same level. None of these parties has any candidates for any elective office for now. We can only talk about former candidates,” Shekarau said.
The National Publicity Secretaries of the ACN and CPC, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and Mr Rotimi Fashakin, confirmed on Sunday what Shekarau said. They both expressed the commitment to the merger and said that the modalities were being worked out.
They said that the plan was that a strong party capable of beating the PDP would emerge from the process.
Fashakin said, “Yes, we are ready to lose our identity for the sake of the bigger party that is capable of sacking the PDP.
“My National Chairman, Prince Tony Momoh, has said it several time that he is ready to lose his position as well. I’m also ready for that, if that will enable us form a party that will be big enough to confront and remove the PDP from the central government.”
Mohammed said, “ACN is committed to getting a single platform of all opposition political parties that will drive the PDP out of power.”
When asked if the ACN was willing to lose its identity, he said “All I can tell you is that the modalities are being worked out. And we are committed to it.”