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Is Mega Party a stillbirth?

By Okey Ndiribe,  Asst. Political Editor
There are indications that the Mega Party which politicians belonging to opposition   have been planning to float in the last two years has eventually hit the rocks.

Several recent happenings within the Mega Summit Movement ( MSM)- which was the major promoter of the Mega Party  – have revealed that parties and groups  that have been involved in negotiations on how to actualize the Mega Party in the last two  years have discarded the idea at last.

One of the recent developments that point in this direction  was the  refusal of Action Congress, AC – one of the major parties involved in the MSM- to fuse into the Mega Party. The leadership of  AC had issued a statement in which it declared that the party could not fuse into another political party in the country for now. The national leadership of the party had explained that since AC’s emergence, the party had changed its name and symbol  four times adding that it was not ready to do so any more. The party’s top echelon also cited the possibility of  INEC holding  a run-off gubernatorial  election  in Anambra State to further buttress its stand. It was pointed out that  if the party  changed its name or symbol now and  INEC  decides to hold the run-off election in Anambra soon,  such a change would surely cause confusion for the supporters of the party in that state.

Another pointer to the fact that the Mega Party has ended up as a still-birth was the reported refusal of another major stake-holder in the project- the National Democratic Movement – to merge with AC, as a prelude to crystallizing the Mega Party.

The group is an alliance of Northern opposition politicians comprising former military Head of State  and presidential candidate of the All Nigeria Peoples Party ( ANPP) in both the 2003 and 2007 general ejections, Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd); Alhaji Abubakar Atiku, immediate past Vice-President under the administration of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo; and Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa, former governor of  Sokoto State and Presidential candidate of the Democratic Party of Nigeria (DPN) during the 2007 poll. The NDM had reportedly rejected the offer of fusing into the AC as a first step in the process towards floating the Mega Party on the ground that AC  was predominant only  in the South-West and therefore already had an ethnic coloration.

In fact, former governor of   Kaduna State and chieftain of  MSM  Alhaji Balarabe Musa confirmed to Vanguard in a telephone interview  that  plans by the MSM to float a Mega Party had indeed hit the rocks. Musa  who is also the Chairman of Conference of Nigerian Political Parties ( CNPP) explained that right from the inception of MSM, the idea of floating a Mega Party was just one of the three options that leaders of the coalition  decided could be adopted as a  political strategy to confront the ruling Peoples Democratic Party ( PDP) during the forth-coming 2011 presidential election.

Said he: “The idea of MSM floating a Mega Party to be registered by the Independent National Electoral Commission ( INEC) is dead. It was the wrong step right from the beginning.”

He explained that those who campaigned for such a  party  ought to have  known from the beginning about two years ago that it would not succeed.

He continued: “What happened was that the MSM  was looking for a strategic alternative to defeat the PDP in the 2011 presidential election. The group considered three alternatives and one of them was the formation of a new Mega Party” .

He explained that the second option was the adoption of one of the existing political parties that has strategic advantage in the sense of being in power in  at least one state adding that presently there were five of  them which include the ANPP, AC, Progressive Parties Alliance  (PPA), Labour Party (LP) and  All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).

He continued: “The second option we adopted was to choose one of these five parties  as the Mega Party and then all other political parties involved in the MSM would dissolve into it”.

He explained that other political parties in the MSM  that may not want to dissolve into a  Mega Party selected in such a manner  could work in alliance with the Mega Party.

He said the third alternative that was  agreed upon in case the first two failed was to evolve a “Patriotic and Electoral Alliance “with one of the five existing political parties without dissolving or merging with the selected party.

Said he : “Under this arrangement, the other parties  involved in the electoral alliance would not have to dissolve into the party selected as the Mega Party for the purpose of contesting the 2011 Presidential election”.

He  regretted that right from the beginning, some of those in MSM began to campaign for a new Mega Party thereby giving the impression  that it was the only alternative.

Said he:  “Now they have failed. Because I can tell you as at the last meeting we held penultimate Tuesday, the idea of a new Mega Party has been dropped.”

He said no party has been selected for now in line with the second and third options.

However another source within the MSM told Vanguard that  the coalition had  now agreed to  select one of the five existing political parties as the Mega Party for the purpose of contesting the 2011 Presidential election. The source further disclosed that already the Labour Party and the AC have been identified  as   the  two parties   from which one  would most likely be selected.

He continued: “For instance, you know that the Labour Party and the AC have been successfully working together. You know what happened in Edo and Ondo States and to some extent in Lagos and Ekiti.

“ We hope that these two parties could agree among themselves and decide which of them would step down for the other to be adopted in a Patriotic and Democratic Alliance”.

The source further disclosed that if for  some reasons the leadership of  these  two political parties could not reach an agreement on which should step down for the other, then MSM would select the Labour Party to spearhead  the Patriotic and Electoral Alliance  because it has advantages over the AC.

He further stated that the Labour Party was selected because it was considered to be more stable and had  been chosen by the workers organizations including the Nigeria Labour Congress ( NLC) and the Trade Union Congress ( TUC).

Another top member of the MSM who also did not want his name in print  explained that the decision was taken based on the fact that when  strong  public institutions in the country are identified, the NLC ranks as the next most disciplined after the military.  Said he: “ We expect that  this discipline that prevails in the NLC and TUC  would be reflected in the Labour Party. In this case the party would emerge as the most disciplined, organized and focused  among  the 58  registered political parties.”.

The source further stated that another reason  why Labour Party was selected instead of the AC was because of the several internal problems persisting in the AC.  Said the source: “One of the problems AC is facing now is that of clash of  personalities within the party adding that this had resulted in the party having several tendencies led by former Lagos State governor Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Atiku”.

It was also learnt that within the Tinubu tendency there are those who still believe thatAfenifere should be in control of AC as it controlled the party’s precursor- the Alliance for Democracy ( AD).

He explained that the leadership of MSM decided to adopt the Labour Party in advance because time was already running out since the next general election will hold less than a year from now.

Said he: “ It was because time is very short that we decided to take this decision in order to stop any further discussions about alternatives.”

He explained that when the MSM was established, it was agreed that  a decision on what platform to adopt as a Mega Party  ought to have been concluded two years before the next general election adding that the group had set aside two years for campaigning.

He expressed regret that  members of the MSM had spent about two years arguing about something that ought to have been concluded in three months. He expressed optimism that the Labour Party would be capable of  providing the platform for   the new alliance.

The source dismissed the other three political parties in MSM that is ANPP, APGA and PPA as lacking the capacity to provide the vehicle to carry  the new alliance.


Disclaimer

Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.