Lagos — TEN governors drawn from four leading opposition parties yesterday rose from a meeting in Lagos vowing to rescue Nigeria from the abyss she had been flung into by the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
Rising from a six-hour meeting at the Lagos House, Marina, the governors elected on the platform of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, and Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, said rescuing Nigeria was a mission that must be accomplished and the surest way of achieving this was through a merger of the opposition parties to beat PDP at the 2015 polls.
Those at the meeting included Governors Babtunde Fashola (Lagos), Ogbeni Raufu Aregbesola (Osun), Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti) and Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo) of the ACN.
There were also Rochas Okorocha (Imo), APGA and Tanko Al-Makura (Nasarawa), CPC. The rest were Governors Kashim Shettima of Borno State and Abdul Aziz Yari (Zamfara) of the ANPP.
Governor Ibrahim Gaidam of Yobe State, ANPP, was represented by Senator Jejere Alkali.
However, Governor Adams Oshiomole of Edo State, ACN, and his Ondo State counter-part, Olusegun Mimiko of the Labour Party, LP, were not at the meeting. The LP has not officially signified its intention to join the merger talks.
Why we met -- opposition govs
On the purpose of the parley, Fashola asked Borno State Governor to brief newsmen "on the contents of the meeting and the decisions that we have taken. Essentially it is a meeting about our concerns on Nigeria and the way forward."
Reading the communiqué Shettima said: "We endorse the merger to rescue Nigeria. We, the governors of Borno, Ekiti, Imo, Lagos, Nasarawa, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Yobe and Zamfara, rose from a meeting at Lagos House, Marina today, Tuesday, February 5, 2013. Having reviewed the situation in our country, we resolved that to rescue Nigeria is a task that must be done.
"As progressive and patriotic leaders of our people across party, religious and geo political zones, we are extremely concerned about the state of the nation and we put our heads together in the interest of our people to deliberate on what can be done to rescue our country.
"As governors, we fully endorse the merger initiatives already commenced by our various political parties and we will put our full weight behind these efforts.
Nigeria is greater than all of us, we have a duty to make it work for our people and future of our children yet unborn."
We want to stop Nigeria from becoming a one-party state-- Okorocha
Imo State Governor, Okorocha debunked allegations that his party, APGA, was not involved in the merger process, saying that he and his party were very much committed to the progress and development of Nigeria.
"This is not the first time I am appearing, perhaps you have not seen me before, but listen, the merger has become very necessary in order to save our democracy and the likelihood of turning Nigeria into a one-party state does not augur well for democracy. Therefore, I personally and fully endorse this movement and this new merger at least to rescue the nation, and we say we are on a rescue mission and to make sure Nigeria gets better, the essence of this whole merger is to make Nigeria a better nation.
We intend to deliver Nigeria's best -- Fashola
Governor Fashola said that other state governors would soon join the merger bid, disclosing that some governors were unavoidably absent.
On fears that the merger might not work, Fashola said: "Well, skepticism is one thing the commitment that we bring to the table will certainly override any skepticism. I am convinced that the full weight of 10 of us governors and many more, who unfortunately could not make it today, is a much stronger force. The underlying reason is clearly how to make this country a better place, this is not the best that this country can have and we intend to deliver Nigeria's best."
Our sincerity'll make merger work--Amosun
Speaking in similar tone, Amosun, governor of Ogun State said: "A lot of other people will come on board once they see our sincerity, that is why we are not taking this lightly, we are very determined and I am sure that with the support of all Nigerians, this merger will work.
Gesture aimed at rescuing Nigeria-- Fayemi
Governor Fayemi said the merger was aimed at rescuing the country from bad governance, adding that the representation from the different political parties and geo-political zones was a proof that the merger plan was aimed at nothing but rescuing the future of the country and the citizens.
Merger'll end PDP reign--Yari, Zamfara gov
On his part, Yari said those fearing that the merger might not work were not right because "it's to fix Nigeria in the right perspective. The PDP is something else and if we as opposition say that, we are right, you as a journalist go and ask people whether they are happy since 1999 till date or not. Therefore, it is a duty for all of us as leaders to lead our people right and we believe the PDP has not done that, so we have the knowledge and progressive idea to move the country forward. So if you say that we intend to move the PDP out of power, yes we are ready to do that.
Senator Jejere (who stood in for Governor Ibrahim Geidam of Yobe State) also asserted that the merger would end the reign of the PDP in 2015 and put the country on the right track of development. He stressed that the PDP had not served the country and its people properly since 1999 when it came to power.
After the parley, ACN governors, it was learnt were to converge at the Bourdillon, Ikoyi residence of the party's National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to deliberate further on how to consolidate the merger effort and make it a huge success.
Merger to include ANPP, APGA
Meanwhile, members of the ACN - CPC merger committees who met in Chief Tom Ikimi's residence in Abuja yesterday resolved to fix a six week deadline for them to agree on the merger.
The meeting, it was learnt, also agreed to adopt the position of the ACN, CPC, and ANPP governors who also met in Lagos yesterday.
The merger committees also agreed to include the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, and the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, in the merger talks.