Tuesday, July 30th 2013 will go down in the political history of Nigeria as the day three political parties – Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), All Nigerian People’s Party (ANPP) and the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) succeeded in their merger bid as the All People’s Congress (APC) was announced registered by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Also, Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha’s faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) is part of the new political party.
The INEC also consequentially withdrew the certificates of registration of the merging political parties. It was a milestone for our democracy in that all previous attempts at mergers of registered parties and political associations in our political history were truncated mainly due to the inordinate political ambitions of their leaders.
It also signaled the return of a dominant two-party system in Nigeria, the first being between 1989 and 1993 when the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the National Republican Convention (NRC) were created out of various political associations by the military regime of President Ibrahim Babangida.
The difference is that while the SDP and NRC were the only registered parties, the APC is going to share dominance with the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), while other smaller parties will continue to play. The success of this merger is a great bonus for our democracy because Nigerians will now have clearer choices before them at the polls. It is coming into the arena with eleven states while the ruling PDP commands 23 states. APGA has one, and Labour Party one state.
We call on political practitioners to seize the opportunity of the stronger political environment to develop healthier political attributes that will make Nigeria’s democracy richer and enhance our national development. Our political parties should begin to broaden their ideological bases and present the electorate with clear choices.
The situation obtaining at the moment is not satisfactory because there is no clear-cut APC or PDP way of conducting governance as we witnessed in the days of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN), Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), Nigerian People’s Party (NPP), People’s Redemption Party (PRP) and the Great Nigerian People’s Party (GNPP).
Since each of the major political parties is controlling government at various levels, they have something to show for their ability to deliver. This should be the basis of competition, rather than emphasising undesirable politics of violence, impunity, rabid propaganda, deceit and electoral malfeasance.
Two-party dominant democracies are usually very vibrant and exciting. Democracy can be a powerful tool of development if political parties play by the rules. We hope this will be the shape of things to come as we look forward to the 2015 political season.
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