Ikimi heads merger committee
By Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja and Hammed Shittu in Ilorin
Determined to ensure that the merger plans by all or major opposition parties in the country sail through, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) formally unveiled a 19-member merger committee, with a vow that no obstacle would derail the opposition parties’ mission of uniting to salvage the country.
While the party hinted it was committed to concluding the merger plan with the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), it said the party’s 19-member committee had been given the mandate to negotiate its planned merger with CPC and the ANPP.
The on-going merger talks between opposition political parties in the country have generated mixed reactions from Nigerians, some of whom have expressed doubt over its workability.
In a statement issued yesterday by the ACN National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said the opposition coalition was poised to prove doubters wrong by ensuring that nothing prevents them from realising their goal, not even the quest for political offices.
“We will also like to inform Nigerians that contrary to what the doubters and spoilers are saying, the three parties are going into the merger plans unconditionally and without a set mind over posts or anything else. The only issue that has been settled is the urgent need to rescue and salvage our country. In this regard, the opposition knows it has a date with history!” ACN said.
ACN explained that the opposition merger arrangement was a product of a collective desire by Nigerians to come together and arrest the slide in the fortunes of the country.
According to the party, all the merging political parties have resolved to set aside personal interests and work for the interest of Nigeria and Nigerians.
“This is not about the ACN, CPC or ANPP but about our country Nigeria, which is tottering on the edge of disaster due mainly to the lack of leadership and failure of governance by the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) since 1999. The merger of the three parties is like a ‘Noah’s Ark’ which all Nigerians who are tired of the endless drift of our country must enter.
“This is not about winning power at the centre at all costs, as the naysayers will want Nigerians to believe. It is about putting the interest of Nigeria and Nigerians above everything else,” he said.
The ACN committee which is to be chaired by Chief Tom Ikimi, has members who include Olusegun Osoba, Niyi Adebayo, Governors Babatunde Fashola and Rauf Aregbesola.
Other members are, Senator John Akpanudoedehe, Pastor Osagie IE-Iyawu, Senator George Akume and Hon.Abike Dabiri-Erewa. Senator Lawal Shuaibu, Chief Audu Ogbe, Chief Achike Udenwa, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, Senator Chris Ngige, Dr. Usman Bugaje, Hadjia Rabiat Eshak, Dr. Ibrahim Y. Lame, Alhaji Yusuf Ali and Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
ACN said the appointment of the committee was an indication of its total commitment to making the merger a reality, adding that there is no going back in the party’s determination to work with the CPC and the ANPP to salvage Nigeria.
It also congratulated the leadership of the CPC and the ANPP which have already named their own merger committees for their patriotism, and appealed to all Nigerians to support the planned merger.
But former governor of Ondo State, Chief Olusegun Agagu, who dismissed the planned merger as being of no effect, noted that it would not affect the electoral fortunes of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the 2015 general elections.
Agagu disclosed this in Ilorin Kwara State over the weekend while speaking with journalists.
He also said the merger of the affected political parties would not see the light of the day.
According to him, “even if the merger eventually materialises, it will not affect the winning chances of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP} come 2015 general elections.”
He said: “The present differences among some members of the PDP which is not unexpected in an emerging democracy would soon be over.”
The former governor stressed that it was a common occurrence in a large party like the PDP.
He noted that “other opposition parties were looking forward to the disintegration of the PDP but said it was the only party today in the country that is most formidable and resilient and with a crisis resolution mechanism.”
Speaking on the unemployment rate in the country, the former governor said it was not peculiar to Nigeria alone.
He stressed that, “even in America, Great Britain and Spain, the unemployment rate which their governments were also battling with are not only terrible but also horrible.”
Agagu said the present administration under President Goodluck Jonathan was making series of efforts to reduce unemployment rate in the country in the area of transportation by resuscitating the railway system, improving the power sector and in the aspects of industrialisation through low interest rates for industrialists.
He also suggested that any political party that did not make any substantial impact on the electorate should be disqualified by the Independent National Electoral commission (INEC) in its ambition in 2015.
Agagu therefore, declared that he was not interested in contesting for governorship election in his state again.
He appealed to President Jonathan to always engage people that would give him sincere advice and good policy on the governance of the country.