Leaders of the major opposition parties across the states of the federation yesterday said they were taking all legitimate steps to ensure the success of the newly formed All Progressive Congress (APC).
In separate interviews with LEADERSHIP WEEKEND, the leaders, who included state and national chieftains of the parties that formed the APC, said they had placed national interests above regional and personal ambitions in mobilising support for the party.
In Kaduna State, the affected party chairmen said they were adequately carried along in all of the processes leading to the merger. They expressed optimism that the merger talks would work, adding that APC's chances of wrestling power from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Nigeria and in the states were very bright.
The Kaduna State chairman of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Mr. Musa Muhammed Soba, said "the opposition parties that are making arrangement to merge into APC held their respective National Executive Committee (NEC) meetings where resolutions were passed in support of the merger. What remain is for the parties to hold their conventions where the decision for the merger would be ratified in accordance with the constitutions of the respective opposition parties. The merger is on course and every necessary sacrifice is needed to make it successful."
Also, the chairman of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) in the state, Alhaji Ahmadu Yaro Cocacola, said the party at the state level was working assiduously for the success of APC. He said they were adequately briefed of the merger arrangement. "We are in support of all that is being discussed to see to the reality of the merger," he said.
The All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) said the state party was well represented at the talks.
According to the state party chairman, Senator Lawal Aliyu, "our party at the national level is carrying the state along; the state is being represented in the committee discussing the issue; the state chapter is regularly briefed on all deliberations on the merger."
In Rivers State, the ACN has said it was part of the formation of APC and was liaising with other parties to make impact at future polls in the state.
The publicity secretary of ACN in the state, Jerry Needam, told LEADERSHIP WEEKEND in Port Harcourt that their involvement in the merger marked the end of flagrant disregard for the rule of law and acts of prodigality in the state.
Needam said: "The merger is a welcome development. It shall entrust political leadership of Rivers State in the hands of progressives, God-fearing democrats and men and women with the highest sense of frugality with respect to taxpayers' money."
In Kwara State, the chairman of ACN, Mr Kayode Olawepo, said "the merger of the major opposition parties will radiate to states at the end of the party's national convention. It is at the convention that the new APC logo, name, flag will be ratified".
Olawepo, who expressed optimism about the workability of the merger plan, said "the PDP's view of this arrangement notwithstanding, the merger remains the best thing that has happened to Nigeria in recent times".
The state chairman of ANPP, Alhaji Taiwo Eleja, said the party at the state level participated actively in all the arrangements that led to the merger of the opposition parties.
"We are very, very much involved in this merger arrangement. I spoke with my national chairman last night (Thursday) and he briefed me on the development so far as well as on the next line of action".
The state APC chairman, Alhaji Buhari Suleiman, said as disciplined members of the party they have no option but to toe the line of the party's national leaders. "All along, the national secretariat of our party has been briefing us on the development and we are all in support of the merger arrangement," Suleiman stated.
The situation is the same in Niger State where the opposition parties said they had started working together in principle to confront the PDP in 2015.
The chairman of CPC, Shuaibu Umar, said that they were duly consulted before the merger and that it would be made easier in the state because of the longstanding working arrangement among the opposition parties.
The secretary of ACN in the state, Alhaji Salman Yusuf, disclosed that they were aware of the merger talks and were carried along.
He restated that, before the talks, the parties in the state had been working together as one body and that the merger would not pose any problem to the parties.
But, in Edo State, the Accord Party (AP) has dissociated itself from the merger. It expressed the fear that the presidential ambition of some key players in the alliance, if not well handled, could truncate their quest to unseat the PDP.
In an exclusive interview with LEADERSHIP WEEKEND in Benin, the national secretary of the party, Dr. Samson Isibor, hinged the decision of the party to back out of the merger on the need to strengthen the party, adding that "Accord Party is new and untainted for the future".
The state chapters of the CPC, Labour Party (LP) and the ruling A CN have jointly expressed sincerity, unity and selflessness devoid of vaulting ambition that truncated past attempts at merger.
The chairmen said they were waiting for further directives from the national merger committee before taking the next action.
The Katsina State caretaker committee chairman of the CPC, Faruk Adamu Aliyu, and his ACN counterpart, Ibrahim Maidabino, said they were still awaiting the directive of their national headquarters.
In Oyo State, the ACN said that the merger of the parties was in fulfilment of the prophecy of the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, while the ANPP noted that APC had come to stay as "nobody can sabotage it".
ACN's publicity secretary Mr Dauda Kolawole said that the former premier of the defunct Western Region (Awolowo) had predicted that time would come in the history of the country that progressives would come together for the benefit of the country and its people.
The state ANPP chairman, Alhaji Rasak Folorunso, who said that the party was the initiator of the merger, said that there was no going back.
Former governor of Ogun State and national leader of ACN Chief Olusegun Osoba said the coming together of the progressives was not for political reasons but to salvage the country from drifting further from the years of the PDP misrule.
Osoba said the soul of the country must be redeemed from the scavengers.
In Benue State, only the ACN is visible in the state's politics. The acting deputy chairman of ACN, Mr Tersoo Har Orpiin, said the leadership of the party in the state was still waiting for the national leadership for further action.