Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2023 election, recently called for a strong opposition coalition capable of wrestling power from the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC). Political pundits say his quest will be an uphill task.
The PDP recently flagged what it described as “a systemic emasculation of the opposition in a bid to impose a one-party state and pave the way for totalitarianism in the country”.
Debo Ologunagba, the party’s national publicity secretary, called the situation “a clear danger to the sustenance of Nigeria’s democracy, unity, political stability and corporate existence as a nation, which is capable of breeding agitation, citizens loss of confidence in the system, restiveness, anarchy and chaos”.
But Adamu Gamawa, a member of the APC representing Gamawa Federal Constituency of Bauchi State in the House of Representatives, described the call by Atiku Abubakar as “water under the bridge”, saying the PDP should first put its house in order before calling for other parties to join it.
“Looking at different interests, options, leadership and understanding of other parties, it is not feasible now to challenge the APC,” he said.
Obiorah Ifoh, national publicity secretary of the Labour Party, described the idea as “welcome and timely”, saying: “It will help to see to the exit of the great octopus that has taken over power, but does not know what to do with it.”
“The only way to clear the APC out of power is for the parties in opposition to join forces, bury selfish ambitions and work together to ease out the APC,” he said.
Obiorah, however, said the Labour Party has no plans to go into alliance with any other party.
“The Labour Party has just concluded the 2023 general election episode and a post-mortem is yet to be held; therefore, the way forward for the party has not been discussed. When we do, Nigerians will be properly informed,” he said.
Auwal Ibrahim, executive director of the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, also welcomed the idea but said “greed among the political class will make such a noble venture difficult”.
“We have seen such efforts collapse even before they take off because of greed and selfish ambitions amongst the politicians,” he said.
He cited similar efforts by Musa Kwankwaso and Peter Obi, shortly before the 2023 general elections.
“If they can put away pride and greed for power, the idea will succeed,” he said.
Chinedu Obi, director-general of the Inter-Party Advisory Council of Nigeria (IPAC), said Atiku’s call for a merger would be unrealistic due to the different ideologies and orientations of political parties.
“A call for merger is not realistic because parties have different ideologies. If he is talking about an alliance, that is possible. My party (the National Rescue Movement) would not want to merge because we have a different orientation.”
According to Obi, a merger may not be healthy for Nigeria’s democracy since a multi-party system strengthens democracy.
Obi, however, said the multi-party system has not been effective in the country due to its struggling democracy, but he believes that the system will eventually be entrenched, although it will take some time.
Atiku, while speaking when he hosted the national executive committee of IPAC, said: “The project of protecting democracy in our country is not about just one man.”