Opposition parties in Nigeria are constantly berated for waiting until it’s too close to Election Day before they attempt to join forces. There are signs however that this is about to change.
The leaders of Nigeria’s two largest opposition parties, Bola Ahmed Tinubu (ACN) and Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (CPC) met at the residence of the latter in Kaduna late yesterday, to deliberate on national issues. As expected, this has led to speculations that a merger between the two parties is in the offing.
This is the second meeting between the leaders in recent times following Buhari’s visit to Tinubu in Lagos two months ago.
At the end of the meeting, both parties sounded upbeat but were tight-lipped concerning details of their deliberations. Apparently looking forward to a merger for the 2015 elections, they agreed that there must be a positive change in the nation’s future political climate.
Buhari and Tinubu addressed the press after the closed-door meeting which ended at 8.40pm. The ACN chieftain said he merely paid their “leader” a courtesy visit to reciprocate his earlier visit to him in Lagos. He said that the opposition was working towards a positive change in Nigeria, come 2015.
“We are working for a positive change in 2015. We don’t want to be perpetually be in opposition, every politician wants the opportunity to govern,” he said.
Sources at the meeting told journalists that the ACN chieftains held the meeting with Buhari at his Kaduna residence to discuss the possibility of a merger with CPC ahead of the 2015 polls.
Others present at the meeting include Gov. Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun state; Gov. Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti state; former chairman of the PDP and now a leader of the ACN, Audu Ogbeh; ACN’s national publicity secretary, Lai Mohammed; former minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nasir El-rufai; former minister of works, Hassan Lawal; Senator Abu Ibrahim; the CPC governorship candidate in the 2011 election in Kaduna state, Haruna Sa’eed; and the minority leader, Kaduna State House of Assembly, Shehu Usman.
According to Tinubu, “I told you at the beginning that the doors were left open. We are not part of any secret cult and politics is not a dark room event. It is openness, transparency, and the ability to work with one another and set a common agenda. We are still looking for areas where we can help our nation. As you know, patriotism is putting the national interest above self. If we have security agencies that are charged with the security of this country at the expense of their lives, then the leaders must be able to make sacrifices and be flexible enough and accommodate and help redirect. It is not just anybody who can steer the ship of a nation, but it takes exceptional leadership to steer the course of things to a proper destination.”
On his part, the former military leader noted that the nation would like to witness a formidable opposition come 2015. He said: “You have asked him, he has answered the questions, I am satisfied with his explanation, and there is no way I can disagree with whatever he has said, being my guest. He said the ACN delegation’s visit was a return visit. He then added: “Certainly, we are likely to see a formidable opposition in 2015” at which point the former Lagos governor interjected: “Not opposition. I hate to interrupt. We hope to see a positive change in 2015 and not opposition. We don’t want to be perpetually in opposition. Every politician wants an opportunity to govern.”