A major political realignment in the country took place on Monday as 38 opposition political parties and the Reformed All Progressive Congress (R-APC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to contest the 2019 general elections under one platform.
The parties include the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Social Democratic Party (SDP), Labour Party (LP), Progressives Peoples Alliance and African Democratic Congress (ADC).
They agreed to work together under the name “Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP)” to unseat President Muhammadu Buhari.
The signing of the MoU which held after a meeting at the Yar’Adua Centre in Abuja came less than one week after some members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr Buhari’s party, announced the formation of R-APC.
The splinter group, headed by Buba Galadima, a former ally of the president, is believed to have the backing of the nPDP bloc within the APC.
The nPDP comprises of members of the then ruling PDP who defected to the APC before the 2015 polls. Its members include Senate President Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara.
A former foreign minister and member of the PDP, Tom Ikimi, who read the MoU after the meeting that lasted some hours, said the parties would produce a single presidential candidate to run against Mr Buhari whose first term expires in May next year.
Just before the signing of the MOU, Tom Ikimi read out its details, which he said was basically to unseat the president.
“CUPP is determined to replace the present day APC federal government with a new and acceptable national unity government in 2019,” he said.
“The parties shall promote the emergence of a government that will usher in abundant peace, happiness, prosperity and ensure safety of lives and property inside the true and well-structured Nigerian federation.
“The parties shall work together to ensure the emergence of a joint presidential candidate of which modalities for the …process shall be under a separate agreement by the parties.
“The parties shall promote a positive reaction to the above being said and to give hope to all our people.”
Mr Ikimi, who incidentally hosted the meetings that led to the birth of the APC in his Abuja home in 2013, said all the parties in the coalition agreed to ensure that they work together “in support of a single presidential candidate to contest the 2019 presidential election, in order to successfully dethrone and enthrone a true democrat who will salvage the nation from the misrule of the APC government.”
He also said the parties resolved to work towards restructuring of Nigeria.
He said, “The parties shall promote acceptable core values for the restructuring of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, secure lives and properties, rebuild and redirect our nation’s economy.
On the modalities of choosing candidates for the elections, Mr Ikimi said “the parties accept the policy of zoning political and elective offices, states or geopolitical zones.”
The former minister said the parties shall promote and constitute a binding well-articulated blueprint manifesto immediately.
According to him, the coalition would to prepare the blueprint manifesto which would be a covenant with the Nigerian people to promote and ensure common national interest.
The National Chairman of the PDP, Uche Secondus, said the coalition was ready for the 2019 elections.
He asked Mr Buhari to be answerable for the ongoing killings, adding that the lives of Nigerians were important hence the establishment of the coalition.
Mr Secondus said the government to be formed by the coalition would restore security to the country and protect lives and properties.
“The president must take responsibility to stop this killings on our land. As we go on this journey as our past leaders have done, I want to assure our people that we are coming strong,” he said.
“This alliance is coming strong and we are ready for all elections in our country, unless they are not ready. You cannot force the people, you cannot rig election in our country. Enough is enough. You are depending on rigging, you will fail.”
Mr Secondus thanked the leaders of the parties for agreeing to come together to give birth to the coalition.
Other opposition parties in the coalition are AA, ADP, AGA, AGAP, APP, BNPP, C4C, DA, DPC, ACD, GPDN, GPN and Kowa.
The MMN, MN, NCP, NGP, NUP, NIMNIP, NDCP, PANDEL, PPP, PDC, PPC, RBNP, RPN, UPN, YDP are some of the parties that also signed the MoU.
Party leaders also present at the meeting include former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, former Senate President, David Mark, Ahmed Makarfi, Sule Lamido, Ibrahim Shakarau, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, Governors Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State and Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State.
Kogi senator, Dino Melaye, Femi Fani-Kayode, former Governor Gbenga Daniel and Abdul Tafawa Balewa were also in attendance.
A similar realignment of political forces happened two years to the 2015 general elections.
The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and a section of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), came together to form a single party – APC – to fight the then ruling party, PDP.
Earlier, a former senator, Ben Obi, told journalists that parties gathered to sign a memorandum for a coalition that will take over power in 2019 and esnure the defeat of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led APC.
He described the 2019 election as a battle between light and darkness, saying the coalition is the light that has come to rescue Nigeria.
He said the signing of the memorandum is a signal to the ruling APC and the international community that they are ready to take over power in 2019.
In his speech at the event, a former PDP chairman who led a faction of the party into the APC in the build up to the 2015 election, Kawu Baraje, thanked the PDP, for accepting him and his members back into the party.
“If a child goes out and gets his finger burnt, he returns before he gets the entire hand burnt,” he said.
Some of the leaders of parties in the coalition said they believe the ruling party will use security apparatus to intimidate them. This view was expressed by the PDP chairman, Mr Secondus; and leader of the Reformed APC, Buba Galadima. Other leaders in the coalition like Mr Falae and ex-Osun governor, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, harped on restructuring the country the need for all the parties in the coalition to work together.
However, Monday’s coming together of 38 opposition parties and the R-APC is not a merger but a mere alliance to fight the coming elections. None of the parties involved in the coalition would lose their identity.