Former governor of Kano State and presidential candidate of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) in the last presidential election, Alhaji Ibrahim Shekarau, was in Benin City, recently with other party chieftains to sensitise party members in Edo State on the new political party, All Progressives Congress (APC). At the end of the meeting, Shekarau briefed the media on why the merger will work. Adibe Emenyonu was there. Excerpts:
We have seen political parties come together in the past in the hope of upstaging the party in government. What is the guarantee that this one will work and not go the way of others?
We have made it clear a number of times that there is a difference between alliance and merger. Since independence, we have never had merger but alliance. That is one fundamental difference. Another factor that will drive the merger is that the political parties involved have resolved at the highest level of their structure to merge with fellow progressive parties and organisations. So, it is not a question of let's go and discuss to decide whether we will merge or not. All parties have passed a resolution resolving to merge.
Unlike in the past, this time it started earlier enough, long before the coming of next general election. If it is six months or one year to the election when many candidates have sprung up, people are only thinking of presidential candidate, it makes the issue difficult. If you approach the general election period when people who are wishing to go to the state assembly are warming up, spending their time campaigning; national assembly, chairmen of local government councils, at that time it is unusually difficult for people to accept, and it has to be an overwhelming acceptance within the party for you to succeed.
So, what are the motives behind the merger?
It is not farfetched. The failure of the central government of the PDP in the last 14 years is so obvious. It is clear that you don't have to be in the political arena to know there is a failure; there is loss of confidence. So, all of these factors put together will help to strengthen the faith in the merger, to strengthen the commitment, to generate the required confidence and support not only within the parties involved, but within the general public who are the main decision-making voters.
How do you handle the issue of moles among you who may be working for the party in government?
To even think that the Peoples Democratic Party will not react in whatever form is to deceive ourselves. Will you go to sleep when somebody is coming to dislodge you from your home? They won't go to sleep but we are equal to the task. Therefore, we are waiting for whatever moles, we are waiting for the unexpected and we are planning for it. In the past, PDP leadership had being saying the merger will not work, it has not worked. But Nigerians will now be the ones saying the truth and telling otherwise.
As far as I am concern, we have passed the issue that the merger will not work; that individual ambitions will destroy it; that the structure will not work. There is no way you can stop people's ambition in any political party. In fact, the higher the chances of winning an election in a political party, the higher the number of aspirants because it is the wish, the hope to win that drives everybody to struggle and be part of the merger.
How are you sure that the ambition of some key players will not rock the boat?
These so-called key players are leaders in their respective political parties and they were part and parcel of the decisions of their parties to put aside any personal wish and bring forward sacrifice for the interest of the nation. The merger is not about any individual, it is not about any personality, it is not about any particular political party, it is not about any regional thing. The merger is about the Nigeria people. It is about giving the Nigerian people an alternative platform, so that there will be another bigger competition with the party in power. So, I think to the best of our knowledge and understanding, all the people you may think have ambition in all the political parties involved are ready to sacrifice and play the game of give and take.