By DAPO AKINREFON & TORDUE SALEM
LAGOS — CONGRESS for Progressive Change, CPC, appeared divided, yesterday, over its botched alliance talks with the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN.
While the party’s presidential candidate, Maj.-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) said in a statement by his spokesman, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, that he would not join issues with ACN leadership because there was still room to work together in the coming polls, CPC National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Rotimi Fashakin, said its alliance talks with the ACN failed because of ACN’s lack of democratic principles.
He was responding to allegations by ACN National Chairman, Chief Bisi Akande, that the talks with CPC failed because the party did not show “sufficient seriousness and political will to forge a workable electoral cooperation.”
Taking the leadership of the ACN to the cleaners, Fashakin said the parties could not strike a deal because Buhari considered ACN as a private property of former Governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu among other reasons.
He said: “ACN is trying to adduce the refusal of Gen. Buhari to contest on the platform of the ACN, to be the reason that the talks broke down. But that is far from the truth.The issue of Buhari contesting on the platform of ACN is a no_brainer, because even at the outset of the talks, CPC had rejected the idea.
“Going by the fact that Buhari came from a past where he was back_stabbed by his party leadership, he decided to stay away from any unworkable agreement. We also found that the ACN was in the hands of a cabal, so it would have been foolhardy to go into an alliance with a cabal. It was very clear that Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is the soul of that cabal.”
Why Buhari chose Bakare
On the reasons Buhari opted for Pastor Tunde Bakare instead of Tinubu in the event of an alliance, the party spokesman said picking Tinubu as running mate, would have jeopardised Buhari’s credibility.
He noted: “The major reason for the truncation of that alliance is that issue of a running mate for Buhari refused to die. It became a notty issue like an Abiku or an Ogbanje child. While the leadership of ACN had this fixated posturing of a Buhari/Tinubu ticket, we thought otherwise, because we believed and felt that a Tinubu/Buhari would not fly in today’s Nigeria, judging by the socio_political imperatives and exigencies of our time. It did not work in June 1993, so not any more in today’s Nigeria and any party that does it today, does it at its own peril.”
One of the reasons for the failure of the talks between the parties, he contended was because “most of our supporters in the North, because of the illiteracy level, were just getting to understand the logo of our party and to be familiar with it, so we did not want a situation where our electoral gains may be eroded by an alliance. That alliance would have caused us a major setback because even the efforts to educate our supporters on what our logo stood for, took us a long time.
Our major supporters are ordinary Nigerians, so we did not want anything that would imperil our electoral fortunes with an alliance they did not understand.”
No need for media war with ACN – Buhari
However, Buhari’s spokesman said that Buhari “believes that political maturity demands circumspection on the part of leaders at a time when our people are eagerly yearning for liberation from the 12 years of PDP misrule.” He added that the CPC flag bearer was convinced that it was counter_productive engaging in a media war when there was still the possibility of working together in the unpredictable political season that we are entering.
The former military ruler, however, said he would not “go into details of the difficulties of forging the collaboration before the close of nominations for the reason that he believes in building bridges rather than cutting them.”
The two parties, he noted, were the most ideologically compatible and had the responsibility of providing leadership in the political space to give alternative to the people of Nigeria.
His words: “There are difficulties in time and circumstance which make it difficult for the collaboration to come through immediately but we still believe that given our mutual commitment to democracy and reconstruction of the economy, there is no option to removing the obstacles and work together.”
While restating his faith in the inevitability of the two parties working together and coalescing their electoral opportunities to create a political force that will result to the birth of a new political regime, he said “we, therefore, believe that this is not time for sabre_rattling and blame game as such may be a backhand service for those who want to keep Nigerians in perpetual servitude. It is more profitable to remain positive and keep the communications channels open as we focus on the bigger picture.”