Former head of state and former presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) General Muhammadu Buhari has urged all institutions of state responsible for the conduct of elections to pity the Nigerian people by ensuring neutrality during the 2015 polls.
Buhari's call came at the special convention of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in Lagos yesterday to ratify all the decisions reached by four opposition parties to merge to form a new platform, All Progressive Congress (APC).
Apart from the ACN, the other parties in the merger arrangement include the CPC, All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).
Addressing the crowd that turned up at the Onikan Stadium, Buhari, like other leaders of the parties, expressed the resolve that the new party would usher in good tidings to the people who, he claimed, had been too traumatised from perceived misrule of the current government.
To the retired general and leading political figure in the CPC, the teeming Nigerians from the length and breadth are yawning for change.
He said the decision of the parties to come together was initially truncated by time constraints in the build-up to the last general elections. All the parties involved decided to start early and the current move was instituted as a follow-up to the earlier one, he explained.
He said, "We hope that all the (necessary) institutions that are set up to safeguard the multi-party democracy and the electoral process -- I mean the law enforcement agencies, the judiciary, INEC, the State Security Service (SSS) -- will symphatise with Nigerians so that 2015 would be a hitch-free era of transfer of power from the PDP to the APC."
On the resolve of the leadership of the new party, Buhari stated: "We are determined to go from all the voting units to the local governments, to the states and even up to Abuja (the Federal Capital).
We must sanitise our nation; Nigerians must be respected as a people."
It's time to rescue Nigeria - Tinubu
Earlier in his welcome address, the national leader of the ACN, former Lagos State governor Bola Tinubu lauded the facilitators of the new merger platform for braving the odds, saying the decision will no doubt rescue the country from the claws of perceived underdevelopment which, he said, PDP has foisted on the people.
Tinubu accused the current regime of lacking in focus, saying: "Before, we said this was a government of slow motion but now everybody can see that this is a government of no motion at all. Everything has become standstill in the country today. They have the right to stay put in government and I am telling them that we too have the right to kick them out.
"We must not accept mediocrity in leadership because of the nation's material resources. We'll create atmosphere for creating material wealth for all so that Nigeria can become a great nation. Instead of having wealthy economy producing goods, the nation is actually an empty basket."
ACN has started process for progressive movement - Shekarau
On his part, former Governor Ibrahim Shekarau stated that the occasion was a great one for the country, adding that partners in the merger arrangement are determined to make it work for the common good of all.
"This is a great moment in the history of our country; the ACN has started the process and we (the ANPP) will do the same; more than ever before, we have decided to move the train of progressive movement," he said.
Why we need to join APC train - Ribadu
Former EFCC chairman and presidential candidate of the ACN in the last election Mallam Nuhu Ribadu was emphatic when he stated that the rest of the country must join the APC train as the areas under the control of his party were witnessing development and growth.
"Today is a thanksgiving day for us; indeed, we have cause to thank God. It is no longer news that the ACN has changed the face of the south-western part of the country. Our governors are doing well in their respective states. We have started a journey which, hopefully, will take us to Abuja."
Nigerian youth must embrace new platform - Audu Ogbeh
A chieftain of the ACN and former national chairman of the PDP, Chief Audu Ogbeh, urged the youth to embrace the new platform, saying it was the best option open to them for self-actualisation as future leaders of the country.
"We are putting this party together for you. Join the party as we have very limited time left, so that you all can effectively take over the leadership architecture that we are designing for you," he said.
We are ready to make personal sacrifice over merger - Momoh
In his goodwill message, the national chairman of the CPC, Chief Tony Momoh, stated that the facilitators have decided to ensure that personal sacrifices are made to ensure that the goal of wresting power from the PDP come 2015 is achieved.
"The journey has started from here, this arena. We are not into merging to take power for the sake of taking power. It is a serious effort. For instance, as I speak to you now I will lose my position as the national chairman in spite of the fact that my tenure is due to lapse in two years' time. That goes to show how serious it is," Momoh said.
His counterpart in ANPP, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, said sarcastically: "When you have a problem, you look for an alternative; Nigeria has enough problems and the APC has solutions to the problems."
4,761 ACN delegates ratify APC merger
The process that would lead to the formal registration of the new merger party, the All Progressive Congress (APC), commenced on Thursday at the Onikan Stadium, Lagos, where 4,761 delegates of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) ratified the formation of the merger party.
The ratification process of the parties involved in the merger, that is, the ACN alongside the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and a faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), is now known by the name APC.
At the carnival-like convention presided over by the national legal adviser of the ACN, Dr. Muiz Banire, the delegates of the ACN made their decision known at what seemed to be the last national convention of the party.
The convention attracted thousands of party chieftains, the governors of Osun, Edo, Ogun, Lagos and Imo, political stalwarts and party loyalists from all the 36 states including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). The delegates were asked to show their support for or against the motion by raising their hands.
Officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) were also present to witness the proceedings.
Tinubu commended the party representatives that ensured the APC came to fruition, saying it would signal a new dawn for a people and country in search of change in the way they have seen government in the last 14 years of democratic rule.
"We have gathered here today to put an end to national corruption; we are resolved to bring a new Nigeria to our people. Our people have had enough of excuses; the current trademark of the government is to throw empty words and no action at our problems," Tinubu said.