Ongoing talks among the opposition parties may lead to the formation of a new political party by March, a leading member of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), Senator Bukar Abba Ibrahim, has said.
Ibrahim, a former Yobe State governor and member of the ANPP's contact committee on opposition merger talks, told some reporters in Abuja that after a series of negotiations, the opposition parties had resolved to form the new party.
"Before March 2013, we are all going to reach an accord on this merger, that is the deadline for the merger materialising. From all indications, the parties are looking forward to forming a totally new party where all the opposition parties will come together as one entity," he said.
Speaking on the activities of the contact committee, Ibrahim said the members had toured the North-central and South-east zones, during which they consulted with party members on the merger plan.
According to him, the committee is about to start reaching out to the South-south, South-west and North-west zones to rally support for the merger.
He also disclosed that only the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), of all the opposition parties engaged in the merger talks, was yet to come up with its committee members, adding that the party might do so soon.
He said the merger talks between the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), CPC and ANPP were being widened to include the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and some elements in the Labour Party (LP).
"We are talking with the APGA through the Imo State Governor, Chief Rochas Okorocha, on joining the coalition. We are also hoping that part of the Labour Party will join us and then we can form a new party. That I think will happen.
"This plan appears to be more popular than any other arrangement and I believe there is sufficient time to register a new party," he added.
He explained that the ACN was doing a similar thing and that the opposition parties were working hard to meet the deadline.
"The ACN has appointed their team, and ANPP has appointed its team and I am part of the committee. We have met several times here; we have even toured the zones.
"We have toured the North-central zone and we connected with all our supporters in Lafia, where we went to address them and they all cheered us over what we're doing.
"We were in Enugu in the South-east for a whole day, and we are going to go to visit other zones," he said.
Ibrahim was quite optimistic that this time around, the merger by the opposition parties would not flounder like in previous attempts.
He said: "This plan appears to be more popular than any other arrangement and I believe there is insufficient time to register a new party.
"All the groups were together before - CPC, ACN and ANPP - they were all one when we started the political process in 1999. It was because of the fragmentation over the years that we became what we are today.
"But it is not impossible for us to get back together, whatever reasons we had for breaking up at that time, we can now rewind everything and find our way back as one family."
On the issue of a common ideology for the aligning opposition parties, Bukar said there was sufficient evidence of compatibility among the parties engaged in the merger talks.
"Since we are all now in the opposition and we have been calling ourselves members of the progressives, we are going to join hands with some other groups to confront the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)," the former governor stated.