The merger of four opposition parties in Nigeria plays out gradually.
The delegates also approved the retention of the broom symbol as the APC symbol at Thursday’s national convention at the Onikan Stadium in Lagos.
“Some alliances in the past only facilitated corruption; they were a rape to democracy. This is the day when we shall witness the first installment of the consummation of the merger started last February,” said Lawal Shuaibu, Chairman of the Convention Committee.
Journey from AD to APC
While recalling the journey of the party from the Alliance for Democracy, AD, to the Action Congress, AC, and to the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN; Bisi Akande, said that the merger into APC “has come to stay.”
“We must not entertain any weariness or surrender to sentiments or blackmail in this enterprise, mindful that merger is strange, new and unique in Nigeria and that the law did not envisage the ambush presently being placed in our ways. But we shall overcome,” said Mr. Akande, ACN’s National Chairman.
“The leadership of our great party after deep deliberations and consultations and in view of the current political reality is convinced that a merger is the way to go,” Mr. Akande continued.
“We have threaded this path before. We are wiser, smarter and more prepared to make the sacrifices that this process requires for the sake of our country,” he added.
A total of 4,761 delegates drawn from the 36 states and Abuja as well as all the ACN members in the National Assembly, attended the convention.
Two ACN governors were absent at the national convention. While Abiola Ajimobi, the Oyo State Governor travelled outside the country, Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State is bereaved, according to Mr. Akande.
One minute silence was observed for Funmilayo Olayinka, late Ekiti State Deputy Governor; and Chudi Nwike, a former Deputy Governor of Anambra State killed by kidnappers.
Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State joined the convention late after hosting President Goodluck Jonathan as he commissioned the WEMPCO steel rolling mill in the state.
“In over 13 years that the PDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party) has been in power, not only has it failed to deliver on its promises, it has infected all institutions of state with its moral infirmity, aversion to the rule of law and entrenched monumental corruption never seen in the history of this country,” Mr. Akande said.
Nigeria must change
Bola Tinubu, the National Leader of the ACN, said that allowing the nation to continue in its current trajectory is “an invitation to doom.”
“The hour is late and our chance for national progress reduces with each idle moment. The way Nigeria is governed must change and change dramatically. This means the shape of politics must change,” Mr. Tinubu said.
“Rich in manpower and material resources, Nigeria should set the agenda for economic development and broadly shared prosperity on the African continent.
“Today, the opposite is the case. Instead of having a wealth of domestically produced goods in our manufacturing basket, we hold a virtually empty basket. As such, we have become a basket case,” Mr. Tinubu added.
The former Lagos State Governor also described the present PDP-led national government as one of “mediocrity.”
“Our people have had enough of having nothing. The current government’s trademark is to throw empty words and hollow actions at our problems as if doing nothing will cause our troubles to leave from sheer boredom. Instead trouble mounts,” he said.
“If this is the government’s idea of transformation, I will have none of it. It seems their notion of change is to go from slow motion to no motion at all,” said Mr. Tinubu.
A mega party
The other parties in the merger – the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC; the All Nigerian Peoples Party, ANPP; the Democratic Peoples Party, DPP; and a faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA; were also present at the convention.
Each of the parties is expected to conduct its respective convention before a ‘joint’ convention to be held in Abuja.
Nuhu Ribadu, the ACN’s candidate at the last presidential election, noted that the merger would bring peace and security as well as fight corruption in the country, contrary to what obtains at present.
“This journey we are starting today is going to take us to Abuja,” Mr. Ribadu said.
“With comrades, with progressives, with people that we have something in common, with those who believe in our country, with those who believe that things must be done properly and correctly; we are coming together and we are on a journey to change Nigeria,” he added.
Mohammadu Buhari, a former Head of State, said that the most topical point politically today in Nigeria is the question of merger.
“For ACN and CPC, it was not an issue; it was a continuation of what we seriously started in 2011. Time was against us and all I can say is the rest is history,” said Mr. Buhari, the CPC’s National Leader.
“This time around we started early to build on the foundation we have laid in 2010,” he added.
Mr. Buhari further stated that one of the objectives of the merger is to make it “near impossible” for the PDP to continue to rig elections in the country.
“We are determined to go down from voting units to wards to local governments to the states and up to Abuja to sensitize our constituencies,” said Mr. Buhari.
“We hope that the other institutions that will stabilize this system, that is the law enforcement agencies, the judiciary, INEC, the civil service will sympathize with Nigerians so that 2015 will be a hitch free year for the transfer of power from PDP to APC.”
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