The council polls of the Nigerian capital will hold on March 16.
When the leaders of four existing political parties announced early February that they were merging to form one party, one major factor influenced their decision; how to defeat Nigeria’s ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in 2015.
Governors of 10 states elected on the platform of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN; the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC; and the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA agreed to the merger leading to the announcement of the formation of the All Progressives Congress on February 6.
A week after, the new party rolled out its basic programmes and set up contact and mobilisation committees in the six geo-political zones.
Though yet to be registered, the APC has stated that it is ready to be a viable opposition prior to 2015 with a view to upstaging the PDP in the 2015 elections.
Prior to 2015, however, the new party would have several opportunities to test its strength against the PDP. Gubernatorial and local government elections will be held in some states.
The immediate test before the new party, however, is the Abuja council polls coming up in a few weeks.
The Abuja elections
Elections into the six Area Councils in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja slated for the March 16, 2013 have been described as a testing ground for the workability of the merger of the four parties.
As part of the test of their merger, the parties are already working together to defeat the PDP in the council polls.
One of the councils where the merger is being tested is Abaji Area Council.
PREMIUM TIMES learnt that the parties have all come together to present joint candidates for the polls based on their strengths.
As part of the arrangement, the ACN, whose candidates narrowly lost the council chairman seat to the PDP in the last elections, will present the Chairman and Vice Chairmanship candidate.
While speaking on the plan, the Vice Chairmanship candidate contesting under the platform of the ACN, Ibrahim Mohammed, said in Abuja on Thursday that the chairmanship candidates for the for the CPC and the ANPP have withdrawn their candidature for the polls and have joined forces with the ACN candidate, Abdulrahman Ajiya.
“As I speak to you now, we campaign together in each of the wards in the local government and we have been getting massive support from across all the three parties,” Mr. Mohammed said.
Mr. Mohammed also said part of the deals agreed within the three parties is to share the councillorship seats based on the areas of strength of each party across the wards in the Area Council. The fourth member of the alliance, APGA, has no strong presence in the council.
He added that three wards in the central zone have been allocated to the CPC, while the wards in the south east zone of the council were allocated to the ANPP and the remaining one ward in the North East left for the ACN.
Mr. Mohammed said the merger has made it practically impossible for the ruling PDP to win the chairmanship seat.
“ Even during the last election, PDP only defeated ACN by a little over one thousand votes and with the support we have now, I don’t see how they can beat us this time,” he said.
Mr. Mohammed added that apart from the merger, other factors such as “sympathy of the voters as a result of PDP’s failure, and ethnic demography also work in favour of the opposition alliance”.
The PDP is however undisturbed by the opposition alliance. The party on February 11 flagged of its campaign in the Abuja councils.
It’s Abuja chairman, Yahaya Suleiman, said his party is will puts its house in order to reconcile aggrieved members in order to ensure victory in the council polls.
The election, set for March 16, will be the first test of the merger against the PDP.