“We have commenced talks that will lead to merger of the two major opposition parties ahead of the 2015 elections. I can tell you that discussion has started on a good note and before the next election, the birth of a political party through the merger of ACN and CPC will be consummated, which will effectively confront the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP,” a highly placed source privy to the meeting told National Mirror.
It was gathered that the meeting was held in Boudillon, Lagos residence of ACN national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu at about 11p.m. till the early hours of Monday.
The CPC delegation was led by its 2011 presidential candidate and former Head of State, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, and his running mate, Pastor Tunde Bakare.
It was further learnt that the two parties agreed to meet regularly and come out with modalities for the fusion of the two parties before the 2015 elections.
An impeccable source told National Mirror that the leaders of the two parties discussed the essence of the opposition coming together if really they want to dislodge the PDP from the central government.
“There is no way we can individually go on our own. We have to coalesce forces to be able to give the PDP a good fight. We all know that doing it individually will make PDP remain in power. So, Buhari and Tinubu discussed the essence of the parties coming together ahead of the 2015 election,” the source said.
Although the meeting was considered to be a ‘private visit’, both Buhari and Tinubu also discussed the insurgency in the North by the Islamic sect.
“The two leaders discussed the insecurity in the country and exchanged ideas on how the government can tackle it. It was a fruitful discussion,” another source at the meeting said.
However, the PDP has stated that it is unfazed by the development. “PDP is big and strong enough to handle any challenge from the merger of the biggest opposition parties,” Olisa Metuh, PDP National Publicity Secretary told National Mirror last night.
“The merger didn’t work before, so I don’t see any reason for it working out this time.
“The two biggest opposition parties will constitute proper opposition to PDP, but I can’t see the merger working.”
With this development, both ACN and CPC are threading a familiar route. In the build up to the April 2011 elections, the merger talks between the two parties broke down. The muchtalked alliance had raised hopes of many Nigerians who felt that the ruling party had failed to meet the high expectations that heralded the return of democratic government after a long spell of military rule in 1999. This hope was precipitated on the fact that the ACN’s near total grip of the South-West and CPC’s hurricane in the North, an alliance between both parties in the presidential election would shove the PDP out of power. The breakdown paved the way for the PDP and its candidate, President Goodluck Jonathan to win the poll in a landslide.
What later ensued in the opposition’s camp was name calling and blames. The ACN blamed Buhari for the missed opportunity. Its presidential candidate, Malam Nuhu Ribadu, explained: “We made every necessary sacrifice, including the offer of stepping down of our presidential candidate, because we saw that Nigerians want it and we also believed that it was the right thing to do; the ability for all opposition to come together.
“But we still considered it necessary, and we did everything, including making an offer of sacrifice of allowing the candidate of the opposition CPC to lead and that we will get the Vice President, but they refused. They agreed before and then they turned it down. Sadly, that was the fundamental problem that led to the collapse of the last attempt.”
Buhari however dismissed the allegation, saying it was foolhardy to change his party’s vice presidential candidate a few days to the election. “By the electoral laws, this was virtually impossible before the election. We suggested that they should let us jointly go into the election and jointly form the government after our victory. But our friends were not ready to take us on our honour and went to the media,” he explained.
The former military ruler accused the ACN leadership under Tinubu of trading-off the South West region to President Jonathan in a secret deal struck shortly before the presidential election, saying: “I can say authoritatively that he (Tinubu) sealed the deal with President Jonathan, after which he called a meeting of controlling leaders of the ACN to make them buy into it.”
Culled: National Mirror