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Ahead 2027, opposition resumes merger talks

The opposition parties have once again commenced moves to form a merger ahead of the 2027 Presidential election, Daily Trust can report. This is coming…

The opposition parties have once again commenced moves to form a merger ahead of the 2027 Presidential election, Daily Trust can report.

This is coming after the 2023 merger attempt failed and the ruling party retained the presidency with the election of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu in the February 2023 election.

It would be recalled that some opposition figures as far back as 2021 initiated moves to form a Third Force to challenge the dominance of the ruling party and the major opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Among the leaders were former Presidential candidate, Prof. Pat Utomi; former House of Representatives Speaker, Ghali Na’abba (now late); former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Olisa Agbakoba (SAN); Dr. Hakeem Baba Ahmed; Prof. Kingsley Moghalu and Dr. Obadiah Mailafia (now late), among others.

Prior to the Third Force Movement, a group of young presidential aspirants including Prof. Moghalu, Dr. Thomas Wilson-Ikubese, Omoyele Sowore, Fela Durotoye, Adamu Garba, Ahmed Buhari, among others had vowed to form an alliance against the APC and PDP ahead of the 2019 election which did not work.

For the 2023 election, apart from the #Obidient Movement, which propelled Peter Obi, the Labour Party (LP) presidential candidate, the move to form a Third Force collapsed before the election.

However, as soon as the Supreme Court upheld the election of President Bola Tinubu, the opposition parties have once again commenced merger talks against the ruling party with Utomi also leading the efforts using the platform of the National Consultative Front (NCFront) otherwise known as Leaders of Conscience.

Before the renewed effort of the NCFront, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the February 25 election, Atiku Abubakar, in November called on the opposition parties in the country to close ranks and checkmate the excesses of the ruling APC.

“We have all seen how the APC is increasingly turning Nigeria into a dictatorship of one party. If we don’t come together to challenge what the ruling party is trying to create, our democracy will suffer for it, and the consequences of it will affect the generations yet unborn”, he had said.

After the call by Atiku, however, there have been insinuations about early jostling for the presidential ticket even before the merger was formed. However, the NCFront has dismissed the insinuation, saying the issue about who flies the ticket is not yet in the card.

“For the avoidance of doubt, leading opposition leaders and parties in Nigeria are at the moment not focused on contesting for political offices in 2027 but presently holding consultations on how to streamline and strengthen their political forces to be able to rescue the country from the dangerous slide into misrule and anarchy foisted by the APC-led federal government…,” the group said in a statement.

Speaking on the proposed merger in an interview on Channels TV, Utomi explained that he had discussed with Atiku, Obi, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso who were the leading candidates in the 2023 election and they are committed to the merger.

He said the merger talk would culminate into the formation of a political party with clear-cut ideology and vision for national development, adding that membership of the party would comprise people who are ready to serve not because of what they would get for themselves.

“This narcissism is a cancer that is tearing Nigerian politics now. What we need are people who sacrificially give up themselves to build a great country with their possible reward being immortality. When I talked to several of the presidential candidates in the last election, I had a conversation with Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Engr. Rabiu Kwankwaso, Peter Obi, Ralph Okey Nwosu of the ADC and some of those who would likely constitute the base and I said to them it is not about you, it is about Nigeria, the ordinary person in the state and really truly moving from this business of sharing trickles from oil sale to how we can become one of the most productive economies. Our politics has not allowed Nigerian people to produce,” he said.

Sharing his thoughts, political scientist, Professor Gbade Ojo said for the merger to work, the proponents must be able to produce a popular candidate from the merging parties. 

“Mergers and coalitions are political means to deal with the ruling government and for a merger to work, it must be a kind of mini revolution. The parties that merge must be able to produce a popular candidate.

“If you produce a presidential candidate that is not popular, that does not respect informal power sharing, in terms of zoning and rotational presidency, it would not work,” he said.

Also commenting, renowned political scientist, Professor Kamilu Sani Fage said the major challenge ahead of the merger would be that of the ego of the presidential candidates of the parties.

“Each of the (leading) candidates may want to emerge as the presidential candidate and they may not want to rally round one person. Also, the APC will not want this to succeed and three years is a long time for the ruling party to reach out and try to woo some of them,” he said.

 

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