At least five political parties have denied having an agreement with the Third Force Movement or any other group to present a joint presidential candidate in the 2023 General Elections.
According to a report on Monday, six political parties were said to have joined forces with the Labour Party (LP) in a bid to displace the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from power in the coming elections.
The resolutions were reportedly facilitated by the National Consultative Front (NCFront), an umbrella body of the Third Force, in collaboration with Ayuba Wabba-led Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Quadri Olaleye-led Trade Union Congress (TUC).
Femi Falana-led Political Alternative Movement (TPAM) was also part of the deliberations which was said to have been going on for over 15 months.
“After about fifteen months of painstaking engagements with Like-minded Allied political parties, the National Consultative Front, NCFront, the umbrella body of the ‘3rd Force’ Movement and Political Alternatives to the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC and People’s Democratic Party, PDP in Nigeria, wish to announce that its has finally adopted the Labour Party as the mega party for ‘3rd Force’ Stakeholders and Allies for the 2023 elections,” NCFront communication executive, Bello Bilikis, announced in a statement issued on Monday.
The New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Zenith Labour Party (ZLP), Allied Peoples Movement (APM), National Rescue Movement (NRM), Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) and African Democratic Congress (ADC) are among political parties said to have been in discussion with the NCFront.
Contrary to the report, five of the political parties told PREMIUM TIMES that none of the parties agreed to partake in any alliance talks with the movement.
Not in agreement with any third force movement – Parties
While the spokesperson of the NCFront claimed the third force has been in touch with the NNPP on possible alliance, the national chairman of the party, Rufai Alkali, denied ever participating in any meeting or talks with anyone on building a “Mega Electoral Alliance.”
He told this newspaper that to give him till evening to consult with others in the party for a reaction on the development.
The chairman of NRM, Isaac Udeh, thundered when PREMIUM TIMES told him about the claimed involvement of his party in an alliance.
“It is not true, God forbid!” he shouted on the phone.
“Nothing like alliance with any party or movement. If there is anything like that, we would have called a press conference,” he said, adding that the NRM is youth friendly and not in talks with anyone.
A leader of the PRP, who is also a strong pillar of the NCFront, Attahiru Jega, said he was not part of the adoption of the LP.
Earlier calls to the PRP national chairman, Falalu Bello, were not answered but Bello Ishaq, a spokesperson to the chairman, later confirmed to PREMIUM TIMES that there is no agreement to form an alliance with any party now or after its primaries.
Mr Ishaq, however, admitted that NCFront reached out to the party weeks back and they were unable to meet the rigid conditions given to them.
According to him, to be adopted by the third force group, the PRP was mandated to change its logo and name.
“They (NCFront) started talks with PRP months back but we opted out because of the conditions given to us. To adopt us, the NCF demanded that we change our name and logo but we refused.
“As it is, PRP is not in any alliance or merger talk with any political party or group,” the PRP chairman’s spokesperson explained to this newspaper.
Kola Abiola, son of the presumed winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential elections, Moshood Abiola, will slug out with three other aspirants for the presidential ticket on May 31.
The APM national chairman, Yusuf Dantalle, said the NCFront indeed established contact to form an alliance with “the party a few weeks back but we have not agreed to form an alliance with anyone.”
“I have records of all our discussions with them. There is no record of agreement, there is no alliance, it is pure fake news,” he said.
Both the chairman and national secretary of the ZLP, Dan Nwanyanwu and Yahaya Makama, in separate interviews with PREMIUM TIMES, said they have never been invited to discuss possible alliance by any of the leaders of the NCFront.
Why we opt for alliance instead of merger – NCFront
Breaking down its earlier released statement, the NCFront spokesperson, Mr Yinusa, said the third force opted for alliance instead of merger due to time factor.
He explained the inability of political parties to merge under an umbrella due to the INEC activities “but they can work together as one under alliance. And that is what we are pursuing.”
When asked about the feasibility of the plan, Mr Yinusa said the movement is forming the alliance because they have realised that their best bet is working together to stand a chance against the long rule of the APC and PDP.
He added that they are constrained by timing but hope for a merger if they gain control of government at the central in 2023 through the alliance.
“I’m happy that PRP confirmed to you that there are discussions. The discussion is based on alliance not merger. It was when we got to the issue of merger that PRP opted out,” he corroborated the PRP’s claim.
Against the report that the SDP was part of the discussion for alliance, Mr Yinusa said NCFront has not been in touch with the former but it is open to interested parties.
“SDP said they are interested in an alliance but we are not in talks with them at the moment but our door is open if they agree to join the alliance.
“We are not closing our doors to any political parties that are interested in joining the alliance in rescuing Nigerians,” he said.
In 2013, some opposition parties merged into the All Progressives Congress (APC),
The parties, now defunct, were the Action Congress, All Nigeria Peoples Party, Congress for Progressive Change and a section of the All Progressives Grand Alliance.
The APC went ahead to win the 2015 presidential election.
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