Leader of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday stated that there is no going back on the party's merger talks with other opposition political parties.
Also, Nigeria's opposition parties yesterday disclosed why they had opposed proposals to allow the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) adopt electronic voting system for elections in the country.
The disclosure was made at the public presentation of "2015 Manifesto of Opposition Political Parties", a book written by Salihu Mohammed Lukman, in Abuja.
Leader of opposition/minority leader of the House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila said past proposals for electronic voting was tagged a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) plot to effect "sophisticated and technological rigging" in the country's elections.
Gbajabiamila, who represented the former governor of Lagos State and national leader of the Action Congress of Nigeria(ACN), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, at the book presentation said going forward, the time has come for a review of the electoral law to okay electronic voting in view of present exigency.
Buhari, who was represented by former deputy governor of Bauchi State and chairman of the CPC team at the Joint Negotiating Committee on the merger, said previous failed attempts to achieve a merger should not deter the ongoing moves. According to him, the planned merger was driven by the yearnings of Nigerians.
National chairman, All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, declared that the party has since weaned itself from its relationship with the PDP, as evident in its opting out of the Government of National Unity (GNU) inititiated under the late Umaru Musa Yar'Adua. Onu said the ANPP was ready and driving merger talks to wrestle power from the PDP in 2015.
"Nigeria needs change and Nigerians deserve change and we will do everything necessary to bring about that change," Onu said.
ACN chieftain and former PDP national chairman Audu Ogbeh said since 1999 the country's political parties have been bereft of clear and sustained manifesto. According to Ogbeh, the planned merger of opposition parties should have as its foundation a clearly articulated manifesto to bring Nigeria out of its present political, economic and related state.
The ACN, CPC, ANPP and others are in merger talks to challenge the ruling PDP in 2015.
Mega party emerges in 3 months, advocates masses-driven manifesto
Chief Audu Ogbeh, a prominent opposition figure in the country, yesterday disclosed that the manifesto the opposition would use to campaign come 2015 would be ready in three months' time even as he said the opposition platform would make leadership at all levels accountable.
Ogbeh, who spoke at the book presentation programme of "2015 Manifesto of Nigerian Opposition Politics" by Salihu Mohammed Lukman, also accused the political class of corrupting the judiciary and warned them of the grave implication if the court is not shielded from corruption.
In an exclusive chat with LEADERSHIP, Ogbeh said: "We are working hard. We have given ourselves a target and that is to produce our manifesto within the next three months. We would not fail Nigerians. And let me tell you, Nigeria is more important than any other issue or than anybody's candidature, than any consideration -- the party's name, party's logo, all those are trivial issues because it is only responsible politicians that are to recognize that democracy only thrives on a viable competition. The parties are coming together to fight PDP. PDP is a big party, but the parties must tell the people what they want. It is the message we want to tell Nigerians and not an individual.'
"It is about governance. The danger facing the country is about governance: the unemployment of the youths; nobody is safe, it is not a joke. You cannot have a quarter of a million young Nigerians coming out of school, 10 years with Ph D roaming the streets. Are you joking? We are even lucky we don't have a war situation at hand."
Earlier on the occasion, Ogbeh accused politicians of corrupting judges after losing in election. "On the election, we are just raising the issue of Electoral Act. Holding popular elections would save you and I a lot of trouble in future. We have destroyed the court; some politicians who lost in an election would carry US dollars to buy mandate they lost at the poll from corrupt judges. Ours is the only supreme court that sits every day of the week. It is not the business of the court to decide who should be governor, who is the president, who is a senator, or member of the House of Representatives. Because the politicians have corrupted the electoral process, the politicians have corrupted the court process, let everyone work hard to make sure election cannot be rigged, and save the system because if we continue like this, nobody would believe the courts in the nearest future and Nigeria would suffer for it."
The Ekiti State governor, Kayode Fayemi, urged the opposition to forget their differences and wrestle power from the PDP. He warned against personalizing the new movement. All and sundry, he said, should come together and produce alternative platform. He said instead of agonizing the opposition should be organizing. He recalled how the opposition in Mexico defeated the ruling party that had ruled for 60 years.
After recalling the internal squabbles rocking the PDP, the governor asked the opposition to capitalize on the intra-party crises "to organize a movement that shall respond to what is happening. Not just to take over the power, I agree absolutely with Mallam Shekarau: what we need is a movement that could respond to the yearnings of our people. The challenge we have is to organize and stop agonizing. I am ready and I know my party is ready. From all that I have heard here from the representatives of ANPP and CPC, they are ready. Let us focus on structure and let us focus on organizing ourselves."
Others that also spoke in favour of the coming together of the opposition included former presidential candidate of ANPP Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, governor of Osun State Rauf Aregbesola, Senator Bukar Abba Ibrahim, Hon. Gbajabiamila, a representative of Borno State governor, members of the National Assembly and some prominent opposition figures in the country.
The author of the book warned the leaders of the opposition against restricting the merger talks to themselves. That was largely responsible for the collapse of such merger talks in the past, he said.