Four major opposition political parties yesterday merged into a new party which they named the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The merger involves the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).
Leaders of the merger negotiation teams of the four parties announced this at a news conference in Abuja, saying their next move was to register their decision with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Chairman of the ACN merger committee Chief Tom Ikimi read a position paper, which was jointly signed by his counterparts Malam Ibrahim Shekarau (ANPP), Alhaji Garba Mohammed Gadi (CPC) and a representative of APGA, Senator Annie Okonkwo.
"We the following progressive political parties namely ACN, ANPP, APGA and CPC have resolved to merge forthwith and become the All Progressives Congress (APC) and offer to our beleaguered people a recipe for peace and prosperity," Ikimi said.
"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--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 restore our dignity and position of pre-eminence in the committee of nations. This is our pledge."
Answering questions from journalists, Ikimi said they expect more parties to join the merger.
He said the new party's name was agreed by consensus, and that on "flag, logo, etc, these are matters of details which will be released to you as we proceed. I want to underscore the fact that we have agreed to merge and we have chosen a name."
A source at the merger meeting told Daily Trust last night that a decision was taken to appoint sub-committees to harmonise the constitutions and manifestos of the four parties.
For his part, Senator Okonkwo said, "The leadership of the party has taken it fully and endorsed the merger and I came here on behalf of the party to represent APGA."
Also speaking, Senator Yarima said, "A good number of members of the National Assembly and some governors elected on the platform of the PDP have indicated interest in the merger. We expect them to join us as we march ahead."
Those who attended yesterday's meeting where the merger was approved, from the ACN side, include Lagos State Governor Babatunde Fashola, Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi, Senator Lawal Shuaibu, Chief Olusegun Osoba, Chief Audu Ogbeh, Senator Chris Ngige, Dr. Usman Bugaje, Chief Achike Udenwa and Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
The CPC was represented by Gadi, Senator Hadi Sirika and Dr. Haruna Yerima among others.
From the ANPP team, there were Shekarau, Senator Ahmed Sani Yerima, Senator Bukar Abba Ibrahim and Chief George Moghalu.
The merger came just weeks after the CPC and ACN formed their teams and continued the talks they started ahead of the 2011 elections, which collapsed just days before the presidential poll.
The new party, which boasts of 12 governors in its fold, is being formed to face the ruling People's Democratic Party in the 2015 elections.
Bamanga reacts to merger moves
Yesterday's merger came a day after 10 governors from the four parties met in Lagos and endorsed the process.
In his reaction to the meeting of the governors, PDP national chairman Alhaji Bamanga Tukur said his party will be spurred by the merger.
"(PDP) 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," he said.
"People tend to believe that when they see people coming together... If they have the strength why do they come together, why do they come together?
"If you go for a contest you have the striker, you know Lionel Messi, PDP is Messi in that contest. They (oppositions) are not threat at all... it inspires PDP to action. In that contest, tell them chairman said PDP is the Messi."
Spokesman for the PDP, Olisa Metuh also reacted to the meeting of the opposition governors in Lagos.
"We welcome the alliance or the merger. It is in the best interest of the country as it would provide a viable opposition; it would also lead to a healthy debate in the polity. But such a merger or alliance must not be based on ethnicity or religion. It must also be national in outlook. We pray it works; we are not against it at all," he said.