BY HENRY UMORU, CHRIS OCHAYI, JOHNBOSCO AGBAKWURU & GABRIEL EWEPU
ABUJA—THE country’s major opposition political parties, yesterday, resolved to merge into a new political party to be known as the All Progressives Congress, APC.
The four parties that came to the agreement as disclosed at a press conference in Abuja were the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, All Progressives Grand Alliance APGA and the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP.
The only major opposition party left out of the alliance was Labour Party, LP which has one governor in the person of Gov Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State. Dr Mimiko steered his party to support the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in the 2011 presidential election and was not expected to be supportive of the alliance.
The APC’s emergence came a day after 10 governors from the parties met in Lagos on Tuesday and resolved to push through the merger.
Announcing the formation of the new party in Abuja, yesterday at a press briefing, Chief Tom Ikimi, Chairman of the ACN Merger Committee said the parties had resolved to uphold the principles of internal democracy, focus on serious issues of concern to the people to rid the country of corruption. Ikimi’s assertions were endorsed by representative of APGA, Senator Annie Okonkwo, former governor of Kano State, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau who was the Chairman, Merger Committee of ANPP and Garba Sadi, Chairman, Merger Committee for CPC.
The National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, in his first reaction, yesterday, said the PDP was not in anyway threatened by the merger.
We need urgent radical change – Ikimi
The text read by the chairman of ACN Merger Committee, Chief Ikimi said: “At no time in our life has radical change become more urgent. And to meet the challenge of that change, we the following progressive political parties namely, ACN, ANPP, APGA and CPC have resolved to merge forthwith and become the All Progressives Congress and offer to our beleaguered people a recipe for peace and prosperity.
“We resolve 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 etc, and stop the increasing mood of despair and hopelessness among our people.
“The resolution of these issues, the restoration of hope, the enthronement of true democratic values for peace, democracy and justice are those concerns which propel us. We believe that by these measures only shall we restore our dignity and position of pre-eminence in the committee of nations. This is our pledge,” the text stated.
He said that the decision would be immediately communicated to the appropriate authorities, including the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
Ikimi said that the Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshionwhole was in full support of the ongoing process and that he could not attend the opposition governors meeting in Lagos because of travelling constraints.
On the effect of the name change on their members in the National Assembly, he said that the federal lawmakers were meeting on the issue, noting that the constitution allowed them to retain their seats so long as they did not defect to another party.
APC ‘ll guarantee Igbo Presidency —Annie Okonkwo
Senator Okonkwo told the Vanguard that the new mega party was the only party that would lead to the realization of Igbo presidency.
According to him the ruling PDP would most likely pick President Goodluck Jonathan as its presidential flag bearer in 2015, pointing out that with a candidate of Igbo extraction contesting on the banner of APC, there was the likelihood that the party would win.
On the allegation that the APGA National Chairman, Chief Victor Umeh was not part of the merger talks, Okonkwo said: “When all the governors of the opposition parties met, the APGA governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha who is the leader of the party said that the party participated fully and endorsed the merger. I came here on behalf of the leadership of the party to represent APGA, so anybody saying something contrary is on his own,” he said.
Count us out of merger – APGA faction
However, a faction of APGA, yesterday, denied any participation in the ongoing merger arrangement. National Secretary of the Mseilla Massalla-led faction of the party, Dr. Ifedi Okwenna, said in a statement that the issue of merger of political parties was a very serious matter that needed adequate consultation, adding that the party did not permit the Imo State Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha to be part of any merger of political parties. Okorocha was among 10 opposition parties’ governors, who rose from a meeting in Lagos and endorsed the merger moves on Tuesday.
It’s gender friendly party —Abike Dabiri-Erewa
Rep. Abike Dabiri-Erewa presently representing Ikorodu Federal Constituency on the platform of the ACN said that the APC would become the most gender friendly party in the country, adding that women were represented in all committees.
“We have every gender represented in the party here, we can still ask for more but I want to assure you that women here will ensure that Nigerian women get better representation.”
Merger not a threat to PDP – Tukur
Speaking to reporters yesterday on the merger after inspecting the new Secretariat of the PDP, which he said would be completed next January, Bamanga Tukur who described the marriage as better, stressed that the move would inspire the ruling party to action, adding that the PDP was like Lionel Messi in the contest.
Said Tukur on the merger: ‘’It is beautiful. The more the merrier. Let me tell you. There is no polling in the whole Nigeria where you do not have one member of PDP. PDP is the only party in the country that fields candidates in every polling booth.”
That shows the acceptance. It does not mean that we want to be a party and there is no opposition, in fact opposition is a charge to action.
“If they have the strength why do they come together? If you go for a contest you have the striker, you know Lionel Messi, PDP is Messi in the contest. They (oppositions) are not a threat at all, it is better, it will inspire PDP to action.