By Clement A. Oloyede, Abbas Jimoh & Saawua Terzungwe
The People’s Democratic Party (PDP), the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) and five other political parties have formed a coalition.
Involved in the coalition are the African Democratic Congress (ADC), the Allied Peoples Movement (APM), the Social Democratic Party (SDP), the Young Progressives Party (YPP) and the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP).
The movement tagged ‘the Coalition of Concerned Political Parties (CCPP)’ was formed in Abuja yesterday at a meeting attended by leaders of the seven political parties at the National Secretariat of the SDP.
A former vice president and presidential candidate of the PDP in the 2023 general elections, Atiku Abubakar, had, last month, asked the opposition parties to come together to wrestle power from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
Speaking when he hosted the National Executive committee of the Inter-Party Advisory Council Nigeria (IPAC) in his house on November 14, Atiku had warned against the likelihood of Nigeria slipping to a one-party state and asked the opposition to close ranks.
The other two leading opposition parties: the Labour Party (LP) and the NNPP had said the call ought to be given quality consideration.
It’s not a merger, CCPP clarifies
Addressing journalists after the meeting of the seven political parties, the chairman of the SDP, Shehu Gabam, clarified that the coalition is neither a merger nor was against the Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC).
Also speaking at the meeting, the acting National Secretary of the PDP, Setonji Koshoedo, who represented the acting party’s national chairman, Umar Damagum, explained: “This coalition wants to offer strong opposition for the good of Nigeria. Our duty is to offer alternative solutions to government policies.”
On his part, the national chairman of the ADC, Chief Ralph Nwosu, said the idea behind the coalition “is to strengthen our democracy. We have seen that people in government are trying to stiffen viable opposition.
Equally, the national chairman of the APM, Yusuf Dantalle, said there were other parties in the coalition that were not at the meeting.
Apart from Gabam, Koshoedo, Nwosu and Dantalle, other representatives of the political parties present at the event were: the acting national chairman of the NNPP, Abba Kawu Ali; the national publicity Secretary of the YPP, Egbeola Martins and the national secretary of ZLP.
On the immediate demands of new coalition,
Gabam said the coalition urged the judiciary to strengthen their conviction towards delivering judgments that can stand the test of time, making reference to the recent judgements of the Court of Appeal on Zamfara, Nasarawa, Kano and Plateau states, where the candidates of the coalition members lost out to the candidates of the ruling party.
The coalition also expressed concern over insecurity in the country, stating that it was getting worse.
They also urged the National Assembly to review and rejig the 2024 budget, lamenting that Nigeria was operating a theoretical budget and not an ‘operational budget’.
Meanwhile, there was no comment from the APC as of press time last night. The APC National Publicity Secretary, Felix Morka, neither answered his phone call nor responded to an SMS and WhatsApp messages sent to him for comment on the matter.
Coalition mere semantics, meant to test waters – Fage
Commenting, a renowned political scientist, Professor Kamilu Sani Fage, said the decision to insist on coalition and not merger could best be described as mere semantics and an attempt to test the waters or fly a kite by the parties involved.
Fage said the reason for this could not be unconnected with the fact that three and half years to the 2027 general elections was a long time and that the zeal may die down before then and that the ruling APC could start work early on tearing the merger apart.
He said the coalition was rather late in one sense and too early in another sense because many people had called for this to happen before the 2023 General Election and the results had shown that if the PDP hadn’t approached the election with a divided house, it would have wrestled power from the APC.
He said the major challenge ahead of the coalition or merger now would be that of the ego of the presidential candidates of the parties.
Fage added that the absence of the LP in the coalition could also become an issue because of the support its presidential candidate, Peter Obi has built up along ethnic and religious lines going into the 2023 elections.
He, however, said the coalition itself is a good beginning if the parties “come together and pull resources together to form a mega party and look for ways to address the issues that may come up.