The merger bid by four opposition political parties was yesterday actualised as they announced the formation of a new party, All Progressives Congress (APC). At no time in the nation's life has radical change become more urgent, they declared.
Rising from a meeting of the merger committees of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), the parties pledged to restore the nation's dignity and position of pre-eminence in the comity of nations.
The unveiling of the new party was sequel to a series of merger talks which culminated in the Tuesday meeting in Lagos where 10 governors from the ACN, ANPP, CPC and APGA met to concretise the merger plan.
In a communiqué read by a chieftain of the ACN, Chief Tom Ikimi, the parties said the time had come to bring the era of hopelessness to an end in the country. While Ikimi signed for the ACN, Senator Annie Okonkwo signed for APGA, while a former Kano State governor, Ibrahim Shekarau, and Garba Gadi signed for the ANPP and the CPC respectively.
The communiqué said: "At no time in our national life has radical change become more urgent. And to meet the challenge of that change, we the following progressive political parties namely ACN, ANPP, APGA and CPC have resolved to merge forthwith and become the ALL PROGRESSIVES CONGRESS and offer to our beleaguered people a recipe for peace and prosperity.
"We resolve to form a political party committed to the principles of internal democracy, focused on serious issues of concern to our people, determined to bring corruption and insecurity to an end, determined to grow our economy and create jobs in their millions through education, housing, agriculture, industrial growth etc. And stop the increasing mood of despair and hopelessness among our people.
"The resolution of these issues, the restoration of hope, the enthronement of true democratic values for peace, democracy and justice are those concerns which propel us. We believe that by these measures only shall we restore our dignity and position of pre-eminence in the comity of nations. This is our pledge."
Reacting to the merger by four political parties, the PDP through its national chairman, Dr Bamanga Tukur, said the party was not shaken by the merger bid as the party has the capacity and acceptability to curtail the merger.
Speaking to correspondents when he paid an unscheduled visit to inspect the new PDP national secretariat under construction in Abuja, Tukur said the PDP's popularity endears it to the electorate, more so that the merger bid would be of immense benefit to the nation as it would encourage the PDP to do more.
Tukur said: "The more the merrier. There is no polling in the whole Nigeria where you do not have one member of PDP. PDP is the only party in the country that fields a candidate in every polling booth in the country.
"We are the only party. That shows the acceptance. It is the party in government now that is in the majority. It does not mean that we want to be a party and there is no opposition; in fact opposition is a charge to action. People tend to believe that when they see people coming together that it portends danger. But if they have the strength why do they come together? Why do they come together?"
He then likened the party to the ace Barcelona Football Club of Spain striker, Lionel Messi, saying the PDP could continue to out-stage other political parties, regardless of the merger.
"If you go for a contest you have the striker. You know Lionel Messi? PDP is Messi in that contest. They (opposition) are no threat at all and it is better as it will inspire PDP to action. In that context, tell them the chairman said PDP is the Messi", an excited Tukur said between bouts of laughter.
Yero challenges Yerima, Shekarau to unite the north
Meanwhile, Kaduna State governor Muhktar Ramalan Yero has challenged the duo of former governors of Kano and Zamfara Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau and Senator Sani Ahmed Yerima to use their positions to unite the north in the interest of the region and the younger generation.
A statement made available to newsmen by the director-general, media and publicity to the governor, Ahmed Maiyaki, quoted Yero as saying this, when the duo led the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) National Rebuilding and Contact Committee on a courtesy call at Sir Kashim Ibrahim House, Kaduna.
Yero stressed that differences in political parties and religion should be seen as strength and not weakness that should be utilised for the unity and development of the society.
He asserted that both men are wearing the great title of Sardauna - one of Kano and the other of Zamfara - and they should see it as a privilege and opportunity to better the lot of the upcoming generation.
The choice of Kaduna by the ANPP for the north-west stakeholders meeting showed that a lot of progress is being recorded in the political sphere of the country across political divides, he added. He called for its sustenance for political maturity.
Earlier, Shekarau said they were in Kaduna for the north-west meeting of the ANPP to discuss the merger to build a formidable alternative platform for Nigerians.
He said the ANPP respects others' political opinions as there would always be differences in opinions. He commiserated with Yero over the demise of his predecessor as well as congratulated him on his elevation.