by Hauwa Gambo
As the three major opposition parties in Nigeria come together to fight the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), there are indications of bumps across the road – the parties reportedly disagreeing on a name, symbol and other identity issues.
Reports indicate that “the three parties–the Action Congress of Nigeria, the All Nigeria Peoples Party and the Congress for Progressive Change–set up separate committees to ensure that the merger plan materialised.
The committees were mandated to prepare the position of their parties for an enlarged meeting of all the three committees.
The committees, whose members are working in secrecy, are also to suggest a name, logo, symbol and slogan for the proposed party.”
One of the parties is apparently insisting that the emerging “mega-party” must have its name and symbol.
A source privy to the goings on in one of the committees spoke to our correspondent in Abuja on Sunday. However, he refused to disclose the name of the party that wanted the mega party to assume its identity.
The source said, “We may have problems choosing a name and a symbol, because one of the parties is insisting on dictating the name and the symbol.
“This is, however, expected, but I believe that as time goes on, we will get over this. It is one of the teething problems we expected.”
Our correspondent, however, learnt that unlike in 2011 when merger moves failed, the three parties were ready to reach a compromise.
But when contacted, spokesmen for the political parties, however, allayed fears over the problem.
They said in different interviews with our correspondent in Abuja that the merger would work.
But National Publicity Secretary of the ACN, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, debunked the rumour of problems in the merger talks. He alleged that the PDP was behind the rumour.
He said, “If PDP wants to know what is happening in our merger talks, they should come out openly to say so.
“The real matter is that the PDP is worried about this merger and wants to erect artificial obstacle against it. It will not work.”
Mohammed said the ACN and its leaders would not renege on their promises concerning the merger plan, adding that talks aimed at achieving this were ongoing.
He said, “The merger talks are going on well and I can tell you that we are committed to this. The three parties are committed to this, and the Peoples Democratic Party is aware that we are coming up stronger, which may not be good for it.”
Also, the National Chairman of the ANPP, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, said that the merger talks between opposition political parties were at a critical stage now, and would definitely solve Nigeria’s political problems when concluded.
Onu, who added that the PDP was not comfortable with the talks, said the leadership of the opposition political parties were united in their resolve to merge.
He said, “The merger talks are ongoing right now. By the grace of God, the merger will be successful. We want to give Nigeria effective competition in the political arena.
“We believe that competition, which is good in the social and economic arena, is also good in the political arena.
‘‘We are convinced that when we have this in the country, we will be better off. Many of the problems that have confronted this nation over the years shall be solved. We are hopeful that once we come together and form a government, everything will be solved for the good of everybody.”
National Publicity Secretary of the CPC, Mr. Rotimi Fashakin, told our correspondent that the three political parties had realised that it would be difficult to unseat the PDP if they failed to team up.
Fashakin said, “We will work hard to merge and that will be achieved. Before now, the three political parties had tried individually to dislodge the PDP from power, which did not materialise.
“The reality that they would not be able to do it alone dawned on them during the last general elections with the sophistry with which the PDP rigged the polls.
“Now, we have agreed that we do not even need collaboration or alliance. What we need now is merger or nothing else. I can confirm to you that a merger is a foregone conclusion among us.”
The PDP is, of course, paying attention, even though its national publicity secretary, Olisa Metuh, says it is not threatened.
According to him, Nigerians can separate the wheat from the chaff, and they will choose well “between a merger where vaulting personal interests will ceaselessly riot and yield no support to national stability.”