Recently, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), in conjunction with about 34 other political parties signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to field a common presidential candidate for the 2019 general elections.
A political coalition is a temporary alliance of distinct parties to capture political power. In Nigeria, however, the challenge is that disparate parties are forced to form mergers with the capture of political power as their common objective.
Nigeria’s political parties have at different times formed alliances to capture power, but have had limited success in achieving cohesion.
In 2013, four leading political parties: the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), a faction of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) and the All Nigerian People’s Party (ANPP) merged to form the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), which eventually dislodged the PDP from power in the 2015 general elections.
Three years after capturing political power, this coalition has faltered with political bigwigs from the party jumping ship back to the PDP and others forming a splinter group within the APC.
As for the current coalition formed by the PDP, cracks have already emerged. Few days after the signing of the agreement, Mike Omotosho, the national chairman of the Labour party (LP), and Yusuf Sanni, the national chairman of the Advance Democratic Party (ADP), in separate statements distanced their parties from the coalition, saying the PDP was composed of individuals who were responsible for the current woes bedevilling the country.
Political strategist, Ayo Kusamotu, says the coalition may suffer cracks within it ranks regarding who it picks as presidential candidate in next year’s election. The PDP, which is spearheading the coalition, is expected to present a candidate from the numerous aspirants in its fold namely: former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Sule Lamido, Hammed Markafi, Turaki Tanimu, just to mention a few.
However, these smaller political parties who formed part of the coalition are also keen to present presidential candidates for the election. The question is; which of these politicians would be willing to sacrifice his ambition for the success of the coalition?
A lot of horse-trading would have to be involved before a compromise is reached, and if it is not handled properly, has a potential of destroying the union.
There is also the perception that since the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari hails from the Northern part of the country and would have spent one term in 2019, it is expected that power should naturally return to the southern part of the country in 2023, after the north would have completed the remaining four years in 2023.
Pundits have doubt if the presidential candidate that would emerge from the current coalition, which is expected to be from the northern part of the country, would agree to a one-term limit in office, stressing that it would be a difficult task for the coalition to convince Nigerians to vote for a northern presidential candidate in 2023.
The PDP itself leading a coalition to wrest power from the APC has also received some blames for the country’s current economic woes, this is why some have advocated for a name-change. But a coalition formed solely to win political party without a coherent ideology may not find enough sympathisers.