APC: of mergers and alliances

By CLIFFORD NDUJIHE

The registration of the All Progressive Congress (APC) by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is historic and symbolic in many respects. It is the first time that strong political parties are shedding their identities and merging into one party in the history of electioneering in Nigeria. It is also the first time the coalescing groups cut across the major political divides of the country.

Buhari and TinubuNigeria’s political history is replete with failed alliances and mergers. In the First Republic, the United Progressive Grand Alliance (UPGA), consisting mainly of the National Council for Nigerian Citizens (NCNC) and the Action Group (AG), attempted to form an alliance to stop the Northern People’s Congress (NPC). The effort died before it could bear fruit because UPGA leaders could not sink their ambitions and differences and so could not present a joint presidential candidate to tackle then Prime Minister, the late Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa.

In the Second Republic, the Nigerian People’s Party (NPP), Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), People’s Redemption Party (PRP) and the Great Nigerian People’s Party (GNPP) formed the People’s Progressive Alliance (PPA) which also failed to click against the National Party of Nigeria (NPN).

In 1999, the Alliance for Democracy (AD), which had swept the South-west in earlier polls, aligned with the All Peoples Party, APP, that dominated elections in the North with the intention of beating PDP at the presidential poll. It gave the PDP a good fight but failed to win the election.

In 2007, about 15 parties came together and formed the Action Congress, AC, but the party made little or no impact in the presidential election.

Before the 2011 elections, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) attempted to join forces in order to field a joint presidential candidate to challenge President Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP. The move fell like a pack of cards when the parties could not reach agreement on who to field. While the CPC fielded Major General Muhammadu Buhari, ACN handed its ticket to Nuhu Ribadu. Before then, Buhari had pulled out of the ANPP on which platform he contested the presidential seat in 2003 and 2007.

After the 2011 elections, leaders of the merging parties kick-started another move and set up various committees. The highlight of the moves was when 11 progressive governors, drawn from the six geo-political zones, stormed Lagos in February in support of the merger efforts and vowed to rescue Nigeria from the PDP.

Having successfully jettisoned their identities and differences to merge, the APC is now saddled with the onerous task of succeeding where previous attempts failed.

Will merger work this time?

Given past failures, the polity has been awash with debates on whether or not the current move would stand the test of time and achieve results. Proponents of the merger said that they have the political wherewithal and public support to sink the ship of the PDP. They also boasted that they would avoid the pitfalls that derailed similar exercises in the past.

For instance, the main drivers of the process, such as Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu of ACN and veteran presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari of the CPC, have pledged to sacrifice their ambitions for APC’s collective good. Buhari is known to have always contested the presidential election on the platform of any party he joined since 2003, twice with ANPP and once under the CPC banner. Speaking on a Kaduna-based Desmin Independent Television (DITV) recently, Buhari said he would offer himself for the next presidential race if the APC members and his supporters gave him the opportunity again, adding that only death would stop him from aspiring.

However, he said APC would follow due process in selecting candidates for elective positions.

His words: “Many people, especially from my party, are really disturbed. The joyful thing is that I didn’t say I quit politics. I will never quit politics as far as I am live. I only said that I will not present myself to contest but if my party members said they want me to remain in the race. I will.

“Since I am in the new party as a member, if, after consultations, they included me among their aspirants, I will not reject their offer. This is what I want people to know. I want people to be patient with what we are doing now. They should allow the merger to succeed first. I am sure the new party leaders will know those that are relevant and sellable to the Nigerian electorate.”

Culled from Vanguard

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