AGAIN, there appears to be a new air in the political firmament of Nigeria. Many are already paying more than just a passing interest in the merger story of the four opposition parties, the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA and Congress for Progressive Change, CPC. The purpose of the merger is clear ab initio: To break the enduring dominance of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. It is a move allowed in politics since it is a game of numbers, wits and intrigues.
Naturally, this development should give cause for concern to the PDP, and others not covered by the merger. Political mergers are not entered into for the only reason of wrestling power from the other party but also, and often the topical push, to uncover the myth of the other’s staying power for the purpose of attempting a change’
It is usually to upstage and rock the boat of the other party and take the wind off its sail. For the emerging All Progressives Congress, APC, many say is a marriage long overdue, even though the move is also held in deep suspicion as being one between strange and most unlikely of fellows. And such unyielding stance is not without justification. Without naming names we have witnessed in the past several failed attempts at merger, of the ‘progressives’ and all other shades of unfounded ideological assemblages in the naming of merging to effect changes in the system. At the time it was even very doubtful as to whether progressives could still be found in Nigeria, with apologies to Balarebe Musa and the likes. But all such intercourse-real or imaginary have always ended the way they came, and due largely to non-synchronization or identification of each group’s interest and purpose of seeking greater power and number. As has always shown, those who went into such merger attempts have often discovered midway into the discussions that the purpose is one but desires different.
The wrong persons often go into the merger talks cuddling their individual desires that more often than not run counter with the majority’s interest. To make matters worse for such unions, positions or authorities are often considered along first, religious, and then ethnic lines, which makes the sail prone to conflict from the very beginning. Where a group’s interest is denied, then the marriage is over or goes sore, with the potentials for eventual death. Yet, in other climes where the basic tenets and flavours of democracy are well entrenched, merger is a strong political statement and veritable voice and movement of the masses. It announces imminent and significant shift in the socio-political life of a people. APC has the potentials of affecting the nation likewise if the intentions are right, not only in its possible chance of taking over the reign of power from the ruling PDP or any other party for that matter. Becoming a formidable group and opposition does more than just clinching power. It always forces the party in contest to sit up.
A strong opposition ensures checks in both the electoral process and the actual administration of the country and polity. For example, the cry in Nigeria has always been that the ruling PDP has over the years taken its luck too far-leading the country with uncoordinated political focus and pathways. Opinion poll had shown that if the ruling party had a forceful and clear focused opposition party that knows what it takes to stop a “moving train, as some verbose members of the party liken the party to, PDP would be compelled to make an about turn. Action Congress of Action, ACN and a member of the merger pact has been in the lead of trying to break the leading party’s hold on the country. But the most it has successfully done has been in the pages of the newspapers. The ACN has so far not been able to break the ace of the alleged election rigging racketeering it has always alleged PDP weaves around the country at every election.
Faced with such a weakness, the ACN prior to the 2011 general elections had attempted a union with the retired General Mohammadu Buhari Congress for Progressive Change, CPC.
The intention, for the ACN was obviously to acquire more strength and number to beat the ruling PDP, whereas, for the CPC, the idea was to present its candidate, Buhari anywhere he could be accepted to run as a presidential candidate. The talks failed and the parties went their separate ways; and the ruling party retained its domination and produced Goodluck Ebele Jonathan as duly elected President for the country. Buhari headed to the court. But Jonathan still won and, according to the retired general, through the abused and manipulated instruments of the law. The complaints had sustained, often causing tension between the ruling party and other parties to the detriment of the helpless masses.
Meanwhile, happenings lately where election results have been upturned had shown that the ruling party is after all not so lawless that it cannot be corrected through due process of the legal system. But so far it doesn’t seem as though the parties have learnt anything or are prepared to. The ones now into Merger are not likely to avoid the usual trap. Indeed, from the showings and general fears and sentiments so far expressed by watchers, there are too many members in the merger who are in a hurry to express themselves and so, a lot of individual interest may eventually come in to overshadow the collective interest and so jeopardizes chances of realizing the purpose.
The ruling party on its own does not seem to be in a hurry to make amends. If anything, its reputation and rating has continued on the decline. No one rates well a party whose members are permanently in conflicts with themselves even where such are avoidable. The party has always claimed most of its unending friction as feuds amongst family members, and should not bother outsiders. Such feuds, sadly, have often ended up creating more disunity amongst “family members.” For a party that has ruled the country from 1999 till date to be engrossed in issues of zoning while it is being confronted with a serious power surge against its house is to say the least, a party that trusts in factors beyond the normal. The party has for quite some while given its time to talking or assessing the qualification or otherwise of the President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan to contest the 2015 presidential election.
The situation is heated up and given impetus by the fact that the ruling party has appears to be busy setting up booby traps for itself at every step. For example, when it become unavoidable for the party that prides itself as the biggest party in black Africa with a rainbow coalition of members, it introduced zoning as a guiding principle of its relationship in order to calm frayed nerves. And Jonathan is said to have been a signatory to that agreement. Zoning, they all agreed was embedded in the party’s constitution in order to guarantee equity, fairplay as well as give the various regions a sense of belonging. But faced with a different circumstance the party soon realized that zoning can be jettisoned or pushed aside to make way for a prevailing interest.
Some have argued that the ‘prevailing interest’ then used enormous powers and deep pockets to secure for Jonathan his first full term in 2011 against the original zoning formula. This could however be accepted as circumstantial as a result of Yar’Adua’s death, which the interest capitalized on. But last weekend, the Chief Servant of Niger State, Alhaji Babangida Aliyu unveiled that Jonathan’s emergence in 2011 as the PDP presidential flag bearer was not without a condition which Jonathan appended his signature to. Governor Babangida Aliyu has revealed that before Jonathan was accepted all PDP Governors have met and agreed that Jonathan would go for only a single term of four years. But fillers had indicated that Jonathan may again be tempted to renege on that agreement by opting to go for a second. The problem is not Jonathan; he is as helpless as the rest of us in the context. Even the PDP, and other parties now in merger are apparently victims of our unguided and unsuccessful democracy and, by extension, our failed leadership.
The truth is that if the leaderships of the country have over time guaranteed equitable distribution of wealth and facilities and have ensured the development of the country, perhaps no Nigerian would today be thinking that the President must be his brother, or at least cousin to guarantee the development of place. Therefore, both zoning and merger are all induced by corruption, want and lack of faith in the leadership and the system. If a southern man has known that a northern or Muslim President can well guarantee the development of his area and vice-versa, then the tension and concern on where the next President is going to come from would have been reduced or eradicated.
Therefore both merger and zoning are all our albatross; they will continue to hang on us as a giant robe on a dwarf thief until we do the needful. The parties in merger are working to beat the PDP and take over power, but they must realize there is a greater need to think about what to do with the power they madly desire. Taking power is one thing, using it for the purpose it is meant for is another. For the PDP, it is now confronted with a higher demand to lead well in order to initiate the needed foundation for sustainable development. It must call its house in order to show the ‘mega’ image it has always claimed. And the time to start is now.