By Okey Ndiribe,Â Asst. Political Editor
There are indications that the Mega Party which politicians belonging to oppositionÂ Â 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 PartyÂ â€“ have revealed that parties and groupsÂ that have been involved in negotiations on how to actualize the Mega Party in the last twoÂ years have discarded the idea at last.
One of the recent developments that point in this directionÂ was theÂ refusal of Action Congress, AC – one of the major parties involved in the MSM- to fuse into the Mega Party. The leadership ofÂ 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 ACâ€™s emergence, the party had changed its name and symbolÂ four times adding that it was not ready to do so any more. The partyâ€™s top echelon also cited the possibility ofÂ INEC holdingÂ a run-off gubernatorialÂ electionÂ in Anambra State to further buttress its stand. It was pointed out thatÂ if the partyÂ changed its name or symbol now andÂ INECÂ decides to hold the run-off election in Anambra soon,Â 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 StateÂ 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 ofÂ 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 ACÂ was predominant onlyÂ in the South-West and therefore already had an ethnic coloration.
In fact, former governor ofÂ Â Kaduna State and chieftain ofÂ MSMÂ Alhaji Balarabe Musa confirmed to Vanguard in a telephone interviewÂ thatÂ plans by the MSM to float a Mega Party had indeed hit the rocks. MusaÂ 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 coalitionÂ decided could be adopted as aÂ political strategy to confront the ruling Peoples Democratic Party ( PDP) during the forth-coming 2011 presidential election.
Said he: â€œThe 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.â€
He explained that those who campaigned for such aÂ partyÂ ought to haveÂ known from the beginning about two years ago that it would not succeed.
He continued: â€œWhat happened was that the MSMÂ 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 Partyâ€ .
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 inÂ at least one state adding that presently there were five ofÂ them which include the ANPP, AC, Progressive Parties AllianceÂ (PPA), Labour Party (LP) andÂ All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).
He continued: â€œThe second option we adopted was to choose one of these five partiesÂ as the Mega Party and then all other political parties involved in the MSM would dissolve into itâ€.
He explained that other political parties in the MSMÂ that may not want to dissolve into aÂ Mega Party selected in such a mannerÂ could work in alliance with the Mega Party.
He said the third alternative that wasÂ agreed upon in case the first two failed was to evolve a â€œPatriotic and Electoral Alliance â€œwith one of the five existing political parties without dissolving or merging with the selected party.
Said he : â€œUnder this arrangement, the other partiesÂ 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 electionâ€.
HeÂ regretted that right from the beginning, some of those in MSM began to campaign for a new Mega Party thereby giving the impressionÂ that it was the only alternative.
Said he:Â â€œNow 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.â€
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 thatÂ the coalition hadÂ now agreed toÂ 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 identifiedÂ asÂ Â theÂ two partiesÂ Â from which oneÂ would most likely be selected.
He continued: â€œFor 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.
â€œ 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 Allianceâ€.
The source further disclosed that if forÂ some reasons the leadership ofÂ theseÂ two political parties could not reach an agreement on which should step down for the other, then MSM would select the Labour Party to spearheadÂ the Patriotic and Electoral AllianceÂ 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 hadÂ 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 printÂ explained that the decision was taken based on the fact that whenÂ strongÂ public institutions in the country are identified, the NLC ranks as the next most disciplined after the military.Â Said he: â€œ We expect thatÂ this discipline that prevails in the NLC and TUCÂ would be reflected in the Labour Party. In this case the party would emerge as the most disciplined, organized and focusedÂ amongÂ the 58Â registered political parties.â€.
The source further stated that another reasonÂ why Labour Party was selected instead of the AC was because of the several internal problems persisting in the AC.Â Said the source: â€œOne of the problems AC is facing now is that of clash ofÂ 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 Atikuâ€.
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 partyâ€™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: â€œ It was because time is very short that we decided to take this decision in order to stop any further discussions about alternatives.â€
He explained that when the MSM was established, it was agreed thatÂ a decision on what platform to adopt as a Mega PartyÂ 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 thatÂ 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 ofÂ providing the platform forÂ Â 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 carryÂ the new alliance.