The much-awaited merger of four opposition political parties became a reality with the unveiling of the new party named All Progressives Congress (APC).
This was the outcome of a meeting of the merger committees of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), they declared that at no time in the nation’s life has radical change become more urgent and pledged to restore the nation’s dignity and position of pre-eminence in the comity of nations.
The unveiling of the new party was sequel to a series of merger talks which culminated in the Tuesday meeting in Lagos where 10 governors from the ACN, ANPP, CPC and APGA met to concretise the merger plan.
In a communiqué read by Chief Tom Ikimi who signed for the ACN, the parties said the time had come to bring the era of hopelessness to an end in the country. Senator Annie Okonkwo signed for APGA, while a former Kano State governor, Ibrahim Shekarau, and Garba Gadi signed for the ANPP and the CPC respectively.
The communiqué said: “At no time in our national life has radical change become more urgent. 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 PROGRESSIVES CONGRESS and offer to our beleaguered people a recipe for peace and prosperity.
“We resolve to form a political party committed to the principles of internal democracy, focused on serious issues of concern to our people, determined to bring corruption and insecurity to an end, determined to grow our economy and create jobs in their millions through education, housing, agriculture, industrial growth etc. And stop the increasing mood of despair and hopelessness among our people.
“The resolution of these issues, the restoration of hope, the enthronement of true democratic values for peace, democracy and justice are those concerns which propel us. We believe that by these measures only shall we restore our dignity and position of pre-eminence in the comity of nations. This is our pledge.”
In a reaction to the merger, the National Chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, speaking for his party said they were unperturbed by the merger as his party was capable of stopping them from winning.
He said this to journalists while on an unscheduled visit to the PDP national secretariat under construction in Abuja, saying the PDP’s popularity endears it to the electorate, more so that the merger bid would be of immense benefit to the nation as it would encourage the PDP to do more.
“The more the merrier. There is no polling in the whole Nigeria where you do not have one member of PDP. PDP is the only party in the country that fields a candidate in every polling booth in the country.
“We are the only party. That shows the acceptance. It is the party in government now that is in the majority. It does not mean that we want to be a party and there is no opposition; in fact opposition is a charge to action. People tend to believe that when they see people coming together that it portends danger. But if they have the strength why do they come together? Why do they come together?” he said.
Using the prolific Barcelona striker Lionel Messi as an analogy, he said his party could continue to out-manoeuvre other political parties, merger or not.
“If you go for a contest you have the striker. You know Lionel Messi? PDP is Messi in that contest. They (opposition) are no threat at all and it is better as it will inspire PDP to action. In that context, tell them the chairman said PDP is the Messi”, an excited Tukur said between bouts of laughter.
Meanwhile, Kaduna State governor Muhktar Ramalan Yero has challenged the duo of former governors of Kano and Zamfara Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau and Senator Sani Ahmed Yerima to use their positions to unite the north in the interest of the region and the younger generation.
A statement made available to newsmen by the director-general, media and publicity to the governor, Ahmed Maiyaki, quoted Yero as saying this, when the duo led the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) National Rebuilding and Contact Committee on a courtesy call at Sir Kashim Ibrahim House, Kaduna.
Yero stressed that differences in political parties and religion should be seen as strength and not weakness that should be utilised for the unity and development of the society.
He asserted that both men are wearing the great title of Sardauna – one of Kano and the other of Zamfara – and they should see it as a privilege and opportunity to better the lot of the upcoming generation.
The choice of Kaduna by the ANPP for the north-west stakeholders meeting showed that a lot of progress is being recorded in the political sphere of the country across political divides, he added. He called for its sustenance for political maturity.
Earlier, Shekarau said they were in Kaduna for the north-west meeting of the ANPP to discuss the merger to build a formidable alternative platform for Nigerians.
He said the ANPP respects others’ political opinions as there would always be differences in opinions. He commiserated with Yero over the demise of his predecessor as well as congratulated him on his elevation.