Although the next general elections are still four years away, but a script that played out in 2013, giving birth to the All Progressives Congress, which successfully edged out the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) two years later is once again being written.
According to some principal actors in the know, the opposition parties, movements and forces are also plotting to come together to become a political party and slug it out with the ruling APC with a view to winning the presidential election.
Even as the major opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said it is not averse to such a merger.
A source privy to the arrangement told Sunday Telegraph that the inaugural meeting of the steering committee is billed for this month.
Our source, who pleaded anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the ongoing discussions, said the seeds for the idea were planted in June during the celebration of the June 12 anniversary this year.
Our source said: “They have done that during the June 12 celebration at late M.K.O Abiola’s home in Ikeja. All opposition parties, all movements came together and agreed that credible alternatives should merge into one political party.
“They have taken that step and it has been handed over to Pat Utomi, Oby Ezekwesili, Shehu Sani, Mohammed Fawehinmi, Prof. Kila and Issa Aremu. They have started consultations and it is still going on.
“They will meet this month (December) for the inaugural meeting in Lagos. They are going to merge to become one party. They have all agreed and they are to merge and present a presidential candidate that they feel will be able to mount a serious challenge to whoever the APC fields in 2023.
“They will go the way of the APC in order to present a formidable opposition to the ruling party. They are starting early, unlike what they did one year to the 2019 elections. All of them have been asked to merge and field one presidential candidate. Consultations are now at advanced stage.”
An aide to a former PDP governor, weighing in on the matter, said: “They will steal people from here and there. Those ones are what we call conjectures. What will define the fight for 2023 will be the candidate that PDP brings forward while ethnic and geo political considerations will determine what happens. Is it Igbo? Is it Yoruba? It is going to be another North versus South because from the body language of the Northerners, they are not ready to let go. It is not going to be APC.
“What they are going to do is to pitch the South West against the South East and then say well you are at logger heads, let us settle it for you. PDP members will come together under any other party, but the PDP will remain as a party. It may only wane in influence, but it will not die. There are some core areas that will always be PDP.”
However, the main opposition party said though it has not entered into discussions with any political party but it is not averse to merging with any party or parties that desire such.
But lending credence to the possibility of the main opposition party joining forces with others to try and wrestle power from the APC, an official close to the Presidential Campaign Team of the PDP in the February’s Presidential Election, told Sunday Telegraph that doing such was not new in Nigeria.
“Have you forgotten the G48 that successfully forced the military to hand over power back to the civilians? The official asked.
“If it could be done then why can’t it be done under a civilian dispensation? Besides, we are in an emergency situation and all hands must be on deck to save the nation from the slide it’s experiencing under the present government.
“Many people are concerned about the trajectory the country is taking, which is not good.
“It thus makes sense to explore political alliances with people who love the country in order to galvanise Nigerians to vote them (APC) out in 2023 so as to save the people from further depravation and poverty that is all over the place,” said the official.
In an earlier interview, the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said that the party is open to groups or parties that are interested in good governance and the wellbeing of Nigerians.
“I cannot say we have not started discussing with any political party. All I can say is that PDP is open to any group or interests that are committed to good governance and democratic interest of the Nigerian people,” Ologbondiyan stated.
After losing the presidential election in 2015, PDP said in several tweets that it was willing to merge with other parties but ruled out a change of name.
The party said in the tweets then: “We are willing to merge with other parties but we ruled out a change of name.
“We are ready to listen to you and hear what you think. We require genuine & sincere advice from you because a one-party system is not an option.
“We have tried our best as a political party but must be quick to point out that we were not perfect. We never claimed to be.
“We want to run a new PDP that welcomes criticism & see it as a necessity to make amends.”
Ologbondiyan said in the interview that he has no power to discuss if the party will change its identity, in the event of merger.
During the party’s leadership crisis, the Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee inaugurated a Strategic and Inter-party committee to scout for possible political alliance with other political groups ahead the 2019 general election.
Chairman of the committee, Prof. Jerry Gana told journalists that PDP was interested in relating “with lovers of democracy in all the parties.”
Gana admitted that a syndicate committee headed by former Deputy Senate President, Ibrahim Mantu, submitted a report on the number of parties willing to join PDP, and the guidelines for any re-alignment.
“Our engagement will be based on principle, cleared guidelines. But that does not mean to degenerate to what is happening to the ruling party.
“PDP wants solid and united party. PDP is the only party that can be found in every ward, and it is the only party that has not changed its name, and we are not going to change the name of our party,” Gana assured.
Last year, PDP entered into a coalition with over 40 other parties to form a Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP), in a bid to present a joint presidential candidate for the 2019 election.
The party, however, explained that it was not a merger but a working agreement against APC.
There are equally suggestions that the parties in the coalition should merge to form a stronger political party to confront the APC in 2023.
But CUPP spokesperson, Ikenga Ugochinyere, said such would not be good for democracy.
Ugochinyere told Sunday Telegraph that the merger would not promote participatory democracy.
“I support anything that will promote democracy in the country. Two-party system is not good for Nigeria. A lot of people have been elected into political offices which will not have been possible if we have only two political parties.
“For me, that (the merger) will not be good for our democracy. It is not good for the country,” he added.