An intra-party crisis in the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) has stalled efforts by the party to move ahead with coalition talks with other parties, especially the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).
The CPC is currently negotiating with the ACN to form a formidable opposition that will provide a more credible platform to challenge the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2015 general election.
THISDAY, however, learnt at the weekend that the party has not been able to convene a meeting of its National Executive Council (NEC) in the last nine months to discuss the merger proposal and other issues, as party leaders fear that such a meeting could be hijacked by dissidents to further their agenda.
Investigations showed that some power blocs in the party are locked in a power tussle for the control of the party.
The groups include the one led by the party's National Chairman, Mr. Tony Momoh, one loyal to the National Secretary, Alhaji Buba Galadima, and a third group comprising new party members and supporters of former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai.
Another group jostling for the control of the party, whose membership comprises former national officers, is led by Senator Rufai Hanga. The group, which is opposed to the present leadership of the party, is already in court challenging the legitimacy of the Momoh-led executive.
THISDAY gathered that due to the conflicting interests of these groups, it has not been easy to agree on the agenda for the NEC meeting.
Under the CPC constitution, the party leadership is required to hold NEC meeting every three months to seek the input of members on major issues affecting the party.
A source said some of the leaders are afraid of convening the meeting because of the possibility of it being hijacked by dissidents who might push a motion for the dissolution of the present NEC.
He also linked the inability to convene the NEC meeting to attempts by the groups to suppress reports of various committees indicting high-ranking officers for misconduct.
"The fear of losing out has led some powerful elements in the party to frustrate efforts to convene a National Executive Committee meeting which might consider negative reports on their conduct during the last general election.
"As a result, CPC has had to operate for nine months without living up to one its cardinal constitutional requirements - to hold a NEC meeting every three months," he said.
In the wake of the intra-party crisis that trailed CPC's poor showing in the 2011 general election, the party's national leadership had set up various committees to probe some members and to reconcile the warring factions in the party.
There were six reconciliation committees set up for the six geo-political zones and at the end of their sitting, a white paper committee, headed by a former minister under the late President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua administration, was set up to collate the reports and all the recommendations.
It was learnt that some aspects of the reports had indicted some top leaders of the CPC and since then, they have remained largely unimplemented.
Instead, the party opted to set up the 100-member renewal committee headed by el-Rufai.
All the pending reports, including those of the el-Rufai renewal panel, and on the proposed merger with other opposition parties, are supposed to be presented before the members of NEC for debate and subsequent ratification.
However, the source told THISDAY that the party leaders were reluctant to consider the reports when they got the feelers that the el-Rufai's committee, which has the tacit support of both Momoh and CPC leader, Major General Muhammad Buhari, was making moves to dissolve the NEC as part of the reconciliation agenda.
Speaking on the unfolding intrigues, former National Publicity Secretary of the party, Chief Dennis Ahanya, confirmed that there has been crisis in the party for a while but its members have been papering over the cracks.
He said the disagreement over the convening of NEC meetings has further confirmed the position of the group led by Hanga that influential party leaders were behind the shoddy performance of the party at the polls.
He said the aggrieved groups see the ongoing merger talks involving CPC leaders and other opposition parties as a means of getting rid of all the dissidents in the party.
"We are expectantly waiting for the merger to be consummated, which we see as mere defection into ACN. This will enable us to reconstitute the party in line with our planned realignment with other prominent Northern leaders such as Shekarau, Bafarawa, Yerima and Senator Hanga," he explained.
He said all those who feel that Buhari is blocking the actualisation of the agenda of the North to recapture power are coming together under one umbrella and would seek to retain the CPC as a platform.
According to Ahanya, as part of the realignment, a contact group from the South-east has been assigned to talk with some elements in the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA).
Also, some elements in the party are consulting with politicians in the South-west, mostly ACN members, and other opposition groups to form an alliance.