On Wednesday 6 February, four opposition parties came together and agreed to form a new political party, All Progressives Congress, APC. The plan of the politicians is to be strong enough to snatch power through the ballot box from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, which prides itself as the largest political party in Africa, as the 2015 general elections inch closer.
APC is made up of four parties: the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN; the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC; the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP and the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA.
According to the spokesman of the coalition who is also the Chairman of ACN Merger Contact Committee, Chief Tom Ikimi, “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, CPC and APGA, have resolved to merge and become the All Progressives Congress (APC) and offer to our beleaguered people a recipe for peace and prosperity.” He added that with the new development, the new party would start the process of registering it with INEC.
Ikimi told journalists that he and other politicians 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 and stop the increasing mood of despair and hopelessness among the people.”
He maintained further that the resolution of these issues, the restoration of hope, the enthronement of true democratic values for peace, democracy and justice were the concerns which propel them.
Present also at the news conference where Ikimi made the statement were other chairmen and members of the various merger contact committees: Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, ANPP; Alhaji Garba Gadi, CPC; and Senator Annie Okonkwo, APGA. Senators Kabiru Gaya, Chris Ngige, Bukar Abbah Ibrahim and Sani Yerima were also there. A day before that, 10 governors of the opposition parties held a conclave in Lagos and threw their weight behind the proposed merger.
Given their performances in their respective states, they believed their parties could remove PDP and replicate these at the national level. Fortunately too, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, approved of the merger, basing its position on the amended 2010 Electoral Act.
However lofty the ideals of the merger are, we believe that the politicians should avoid the pitfalls of the past. First, APGA should resolve its conflict so that its membership of the new party will be legitimate. Otherwise, enemies of APC may see that as a weak link in the chain and go for litigation.
The politicians involved in the new arrangement must put the interest of the country before their own personal ambition. That was why the coalition of the Peoples Progressive Alliance, PPA, failed in the Second Republic when Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe could not agree on who would lead. The same problem cropped up in the recent past among Atiku Abubakar, Muhammadu Buhari and ACN members.
The other problem that the new party should tackle is money politics. It should avoid a situation whereby political positions go to the highest bidders. On the other hand, political parties can sponsor candidates who can deliver the goods, even if they are poor. That was the practice in the First and Second Republics when old lawyers, educationists and academics that knew their onions but could not buy votes were able to govern.
The other obstacle that the party should find a way around is ethnicity in the sharing of offices. It should not be done as a winner takes all. A mechanism should be evolved to satisfy all sections.