The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) took the plan to unseat the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2019 a notch higher yesterday when it entered into an alliance with 38 political parties.
The 39 opposition political parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to field a single candidate for the 2019 presidential election.
The political parties under the aegis Coalition of Unity Political Parties (CUPP) also resolved to enter into a covenant with the Nigerian people by commencing work on a blueprint manifesto.
The alignment among the parties is poised to result in a government of national unity.
Chairmen of the political parties who took turns to lambast the APC administration decried the level of nepotism in the current administration, just as they lamented the failure of security, which has led to incessant killings in the country.
While admitting that the battle for 2019 would not be easy, they called for unity within their ranks and urged themselves to brace for a lengthy tussle.
Parties that signed the MoU to form the grand coalition with PDP include Reformed All Progressive Congress (R-APC), Social Democratic Party (SDP), Action Alliance (AA), Alliance for Democracy (AD), Africa Democratic Party (ADC), Action Democratic Party (ADP), All Grand Alliance Party (AGAP) and Action Peoples Party (APP).
Others are Advanced Congress of Democrats (ACD), Better Nigeria Progressive Party (BNPP), Democratic Alternative (DA), Democratic Peoples Party (DPC), Grand Democratic Party of Nigeria (GDPN), Green Party of Nigeria (GPN), KOWA Party, Labour Party (LP), Mass Action Joint Alliance (MAJA), Masses Movement of Nigeria (MMN).
Others include National Conscience Party (NCP), New Generation Party (NGP), National Unity Party (NUP), Nigeria Intervention Movement (NIM), Peoples Alliance for National Development and Liberty (PANDEL), Peoples Progressive Party (PPP), People for Democratic Change (PDC), Providence People's Congress (PPC).
Others are Restoration Party of Nigeria (RPN), Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), All Grassroots Alliance (AGA), National Interest Party (NIP), Nigeria Democratic Congress Party (NDCP), Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA) and Young Democratic Party (YDP), among others.
The merger also saw the return of the leader of the nPDP, Kawu Baraje and Senator Dino Melaye to the PDP. While Baraje declared his regret for leaving PDP in 2013, Melaye assured that the APC will lose in 2019.
Chairman of R-APC, Buba Galadima, said President Muhammadu Buhari would lose the 2019 election.
The terms of the MoU as read by a chieftain of the PDP, Chief Tom Ikimi, are: "THAT the Parties shall promote a positive reaction to the above listed failures of the present regime and to give hope to all our people, the Parties shall ensure that the coalition is committed to working together in support of the single Presidential Candidate to contest the 2019 Presidential election in order to successfully enthrone a true democrat who will salvage the nation from the misrule of the APC Government.
"THAT the Parties shall promote acceptable core values for the restructuring of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, secure lives and property, rebuild and redirect our nation's economy back onto the path of growth, respect human rights and freedoms, protect and uphold the cherished values of democracy and the democratic institutions and generally put right the country which unfortunately has now been dangerously divided along ethnic, religious and tribal lines.
"THAT the Parties shall encourage State alliances between themselves to ensure that the cooperating parties under the grand alliance emerge victorious at State Governorship, State Legislature and National Assembly elections.
"THAT the Parties accept the policy of zoning political and elective offices between the six geopolitical zones of the Federations THAT the Parties shall ensure that the emergent President under the grand alliance shall treat the presentation of an Executive Bill on Restructuring and Devolution of powers to the National Assembly a major priority".
In a goodwill message, national chairman of PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, noted that Nigerians are waiting for them to salvage the country.
He said, "We have all witnessed all forms of intimidation aimed at suffocating democracy in our land, frame ups, arrests and total break down of law and order in some areas like Zamfara State where a governor had to relinquish his chief security officer status.
"Just last week, the APC conquest regime came up with executive order which all political watchers, including civil society groups, likened to Decree 2 of the military era. We know why they are doing this on the eve of a general election because they know the people have turned their back on them but they want to retain power at all cost, including cowing us down.
"But we cannot be cowed; if our heroes past had been cowed down in these historic events I just highlighted above that we would not have democracy or a nation today. We must stand up for the rule of law to prevail or posterity would judge us harshly."
On his part, national chairman of the SDP, Olu Falae, urged the coalition to remain strong and not allow division within their ranks.
He urged members to abide by the letters of the agreement. He also urged aspirants to be prepared to sacrifice their ambition in order for the coalition to succeed.
Falae, a former secretary to government of the federation, also said it won't be enough to produce a unity candidate for president, adding that it should be replicated in the states and senatorial elections so that there will be the needed majority to attain restructuring of the country.
Also speaking, R-APC leader, Buba Galadima, said, "My presence alone here signifies a lot. I am highly delighted and elated by the presence of the creme de la creme of the Nigerian society seated here. What we are about to do will send shivers, not only to those on the other side, but to the entire world.
"We are witnessing a significant event; most diplomats and leaders of other countries of the world keep wondering whether there are men and women of courage and integrity in this country.
"Let me say that since we made a declaration of the formation of the Reformed All Progressives Congress (R-APC), we have received unprecedented messages of support, solidarity from all over the world and I am confident that if we put our acts together, if we talk together, if we are fair to ourselves and do things transparently and bring up one man or woman, we will provide future for our children and grandchildren.
"This is not going to be a tea party, there are demands we will be facing. He (Buhari) is a military General, but we know him and you know that I know him. If I were him and if I were his advisers, I would advise him not to attempt to contest".
Giving reasons for asking Buhari not to contest, Galadima said, "I have my reasons. by what I know and what I have access to, I assure you that General Buhari not only will lose the election but will lose his deposit.
"I said it is not going to be a tea party because from the day we announced the formation of the Reformed APC, a lot of people received threats, a lot of people received gratification and a lot of people received the pressures from all quarters to persuade them to back out. But one person that most people could not approach; I don't want to mention names.
"Some of us are old soldiers and history said they never died. We are ready, prepared to take on this fight despite any deprivation, intimidation and even torture because this country belongs to all of us. They are thinking of setting aside public money, which they accused others of using during elections for this purpose.
"They can use the big stick because you know a desperate person can do anything. He can kill, if he has power, he can arrest and detain but whichever one they choose to do, we are prepared to lay down our lives to save our nation.
"They can say anything. They said we are inconsequential, they said we don't matter, they said we are inconsequential but when we were forming the party, the APC, of which I was one of the nine signatories, those people that are making this noise, we did not see their faces neither did we see their signatures. So, how could they say we are inconsequential?
"And if we are inconsequential, why would they run helter skelter, from pole to pole, going to the National Assembly to persuade my people that they should not leave? So, this is a challenge to them and I assure you seated here that if we put our acts together, talk together, discuss together, the sky is our limit and success is ours."
On his part, deputy Senate president, Ike Ekweremadu, said signing the MoU would rescue Nigeria in 2019 and restore her on the path of democratic freedom, joy, security and development.
He said that the mammoth crowd outside the venue, which had gathered to witness the birth of a new Nigeria, showed that Nigerians now saw hope again.
Urging the grand alliance not to disappoint the people, he said, "For three years, what I see on the faces of Nigerians is frustration and anguish. But for the first time, I tell you that I saw joy. I saw people laughing and smiling for the first time in three years.
"Those our brothers and sisters and investors, who left Nigeria in the last three, are also rejoicing with you because by this time next year, they will all be back. Those factories that were closed are going to come back alive by this time next year and Nigerians will rejoice.
"The people of the South East whom the programmes and practices of this government are forcing them to have a rethink on their membership of this country today will rejoice and be happy that a new country that will be fair to all is coming; a country that they will be proud to be part of and continue to contribute to her development".
Others who spoke at the grand alliance include governors of Ekiti State, Ayo Fayose and his Akwa Ibom counterpart, Udom Emmanuel. While Fayose hailed the gathering for taking the bold step, Emmanuel urged them to be steadfast.
The APC however said yesterday that it will react formally when it has gotten the formal report and discuss the latest development.
The party warned that any of its members that was party to the signing of MoU with another party was engaging in anti-party activity.
"When we (National Working Committee NWC) get a formal report, we will discuss it and formally react to it but of course, definitely, if you are a member of the APC and you are signing an MOU with another party, that is anti-party", the party's national publicity secretary, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, stated.
Niger APC gives 1-week ultimatum to associates of R-APC
Meanwhile, the Niger State chapter of the APC has warned that there is no room for R-APC in the state.
It gave those whose names were associated with the R-APC a one-week ultimatum to dissociate themselves or face disciplinary action.
The state party chairman and secretary, Eng Mohammed Jibril Imam and Barrister Mohammed Liman who spoke to journalists after the meeting of the state executives with local government chairmen and secretaries of the party noted that some critical stakeholders of the party in the state were mentioned as members of R-APC.
The secretary said the party observed with dismay that people like Senator David Umaru and Hon Abubakar Lado Suleja were associated with the dissenting group.
Noting that there was no crisis at any time in the party, he said, "There is no division in APC in Niger State. We are solid and indivisible. R-APC has no position In APC in Niger State. APC has no faction in the state"
The Secretary maintained that any member whose name is associated with R-APC and does not come out to dissociate himself from within one week would be considered as agreeing to be a member of the R-APC and that disciplinary action will be instituted against such a member.
He stated that to show the level of desperation, some members whose names were dropped in the R-APC in Niger State were not even APC members, adding that "one Theophilus whose name appears to be member of RAPC in Niger State, from our investigation, is a lecturer in general studies department of Federal Polytechnic, Bida".
On his part, the chairman of the party who stated that the party in the state held peaceful and free congresses without problem wondered why those who were beneficiaries of the party like Senator David Umaru who was given automatic ticket in 2014 bye-election and in 2015 would turn around to try to create division in the party.
Imam noted that after the state congresses there was no protest or dissenting voice against the processes, saying "it should be categorically clear to R-APC that Niger state APC is not a fertile ground for them"
APDA Dismisses Merger Talks With PDP, Others
Meanwhile, the Advanced Peoples Democratic Alliance (APDA) has dismissed media reports that it was in merger talks with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ahead of the 2019 elections.
In a statement issued yesterday by the party's special Adviser on media and publicity, Mr Bayo Olumoko, APDA described the report as unfounded, baseless and untrue.
The party said the media report of merger with the PDP was orchestrated by mischief-makers to undermine the integrity of the party.
Olumoko said, "For the avoidance of doubt and for the umpteenth time, the Advanced Peoples Democratic Alliance (APDA) is not part of any merger with the PDP and is not interested in any merger for now. The party has not taken any position as it is waiting for a better alternative and will make it known to its supporters and the public".