•Photo: Ogbonnaya, ANPP .Buhari,CPC .Tinubu, ACN .Umeh, APGA:
After several months of consultations, deliberations and horse-trading, a new leap was taken towards the 2015 Presidential election on Wednesday with emergence of a new political party, named All Progressives Congress (APC).
APC, formed by the coalition of leaderships of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), All Nigerian Peoples’ Party (ANPP) All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), was unveiled in Abuja.
However, the new party’s logo, motto and other details described as “internal details” still remained in close wraps as at the time of the presentation of the party’s name.
In a four-paragraph communiqué read at the presentation ceremony by former Foreign Affairs Minister and ACN chieftain, Tom Ikimi, the new party said it was formed to restore Nigeria’s dignity.
“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 forth with and become the All Progressive Congress and offer to tour beleaguered people a recipe for peace and prosperity.
“We resolved 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 committee of nations. This is our struggle,” the communiqué said.
The communiqué was signed by chairmen of the sub-party merger committees of the merging parties.
They are Ikimi for ACN, Annie Okonkwo for APGA, Ibrahim Shekarau for ANPP and Garba Mohammed Sadi for CPC.
All the same, Ikimi disclosed that more parties have indicated interest to join the new party but did not disclose when.
As the presentation of the name of the new party was going on, National Assembly members elected on the platform of the parties involved in the consummated merger were also meeting in one of the Committee Rooms of the National Assembly Complex ostensibly to endorse the new party regime.
Ikimi assured that lawmakers elected on the platform of the different parties in the new arrangement need not entertain any fears about their tenure and placements because of loss of party membership since merger of parties was allowed in the Electoral Act.
Present at the brief ceremony were Senators George Akume, Buka Abba Ibrahim, Sani Yerima, Chris Ngige, Ibrahim Shekarau, Osita Okechukwu, George Moghalu, Niyi Adebayo, Olusegun Osoba, Abike Dabiri, Lai Mohammed and a host of other members of the merger committees of the various parties.
On its part, Labour Party (LP) on Wednesday explained why the only Governor on its platform, Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State, did not attend Tuesday’s meeting in Lagos where 10 state Governors in the opposition agreed to endorse merger plans by their parties.
It said Mimiko did not attend because LP is an ideology-based party that is not just seeking to displace the ruling party for the sake of taking over power.
LP said in a statement by its spokesman, Ikpe Etokudo, that it believes that the parties presently moving towards a merger were only doing so to be able to displace the ruling party and then continue to lead the country in the same way.
The statement reads in part: “LP is not part of the planned merger because it is ideology-based; we’re left of the centre.
“We want to lead Nigeria; we want to change its socio/economic trajectory so as to lift the country from this present state of development to that of a developed state.
“LP is not interested in removing any party from power just to install ‘new faces’ that are etched in the same old ways of doing things.
“PDP is a right-wing conservative party just as the envisaged union of ACN, ANPP and CPC.
“Just as the LP has an ideology, it has specific constituency – it is mass-based – and part of the labour movement.
“It is precisely for this reason that Governor Segun Mimiko was not at the ‘ten Governors’ party’ meeting held on Tuesday, February 5, in Lagos.”
Also reacting on Wednesday, National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Bamanga Tukur, said the party is not threatened in any way by the merger plans of the opposition parties.
Speaking while inspecting the ongoing construction work at the permanent site of the PDP national headquarters in Abuja, Tukur discribed the coming together of the opposition as a sign of weakness, which his party was ready to exploit.
He likened politics in Nigeria to a game of football, describing PDP as the best player in person of Lionel Messi and that it will always win elections in all circumstances.
According to him, the strength of PDP lies in the spread of its support base which, he insisted, no other party has.
Speaking on the merger, Tukur said: “Beautiful. The more the merrier. Let me tell you. There is no polling booth in the whole Nigeria where you do not have one member of PDP. PDP is the only party in the country that fields candidates in every polling booth in the country.
That shows the acceptance.
“People tend to believe that when they see people coming together… If they have the strength why do they come together?
“If you go for a contest you have the striker, you know Lionel Messi, PDP is Messi in that contest. They (oppositions) are no threat at all it is better, it inspires PDP to action. In that contest (merger) tell them chairman said PDP is the Messi,” Tukur said.
Former Zamfara State Governor and now a Senator, Ahmed Sani Yarima, also denied on Wednesday speculations that he was planning to dump his party, All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), for the PDP.
He made the denial in a British Broadcasting Corporation BBC Hausa service programme monitored in Gusau.
Yerima said he will never leave the party that made him to become what he is today.
Currently there are speculations that the former Governor along with Governor Abdul’azeez Yari and their followers would soon leave the ANPP and decamp to PDP.
“I have been in ANPP from 1999 and under the party, God in His mercy made me Governor of my state, Zamfara, for eight years, and my Deputy Governor was elected Governor in 2007 until the time when he decamped to PDP and I was elected Senator there and then.
“I was also elected Senator for the second term and I put another person and was elected under the ANPP,” Yarima said.