2023: Still waiting for alternatives to APC, PDP
As presidential primaries of political parties are due in roughly two months, Nigerians are eager to see smaller parties making effort to be relevant. In past elections, they made so much noise but ended up leaving the stage for the bigger parties.
So far, there are talks among parties to coalesce into a ‘Third Force Mega Force’ that will make it difficult for either All Progressives Congress (APC) or Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to dominate the political space.
Among second tier (Second Eleven parties), are Social Democratic Party (SDP), African Democratic Congress (ADC), New Nigerian Peoples Party (NNPP), Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and Labour Party (LP), among others.
The leadership of the National Conscience Front (NCFront) has been working on how to bring together some of these parties into a united coalition with capacity to win elections.
Ralph Nwosu of ADC and Olu Agunloye of SDP in separate interviews disclosed that discussions are ongoing on how to fine-tune an alliance ahead of 2023. Feelers from leaders of the Third Force Mega Party and NCFront show that NNPP is really not in consideration.
The reason is that the mood of the South does not support another northerner succeeding President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023. Kwankwaso has already positioned himself as the presidential candidate of NNPP.
Speaking on perceived inability of the alliance to defeat either APC or PDP, Nwosu appealed to Nigerians to cooperate with leaders of the fringe platforms to save the country.
He said, “When people dont believe they can change their unpleasant situation then such a nation is doomed. If the people believe in their consciousness that they cannot work hard to get themselves out of the predicament and tyranny APC and PDP have plunged the country, then it is good to say that Nigeria is finished.”
He said the enormous fund at the disposal of APC and PDP is what is fueling the doubt in Nigerians that other parties cannot oust the two major platforms. He called on the electorate to arm themselves with the courage that the two major parties can be stopped in 2023.
“I didn’t coin this but Nigerians are saying no to APC and PDP. If the masses are saying no, tell me who will stop them? If most of the fringe parties succeeded in ensuring that the Electoral Amendment Act 2022 was signed into law, to stop APC and PDP would not be a problem,” he said.
Nwosu noted that necessary ground has been prepared for free, fair and credible elections with the passage of the New Electoral law.
“All we need to do is to ensure we all vote. And I bet you all of these corrupt leaders will be swept away. The country can definitely not continue like this.”
Nwosu told The Guardian that for the purpose of 2023 elections, the fusion is likely to be warehoused in ADC.
National Chairman of deregistered National Conscience Party (NCP), Dr. Yunusa Tanko also said fringe parties are looking at a broad coalition, which they are working towards and very soon details of the alignment would be made known to Nigerians.
“I can assure you there is going to be a mass movement into a particular party that will challenge the existing structures as it were. We are working very strongly on this.”
On the cooperation of INEC, he said, as far as arrangement is concerned, it has less to do with the umpire since it is an alliance and not a merger.
“The parties involved are not going to lose their identity but will only adopt candidates and concede to one another. It is our affairs and it depends on how we decide to handle the alliance.
If we are going on alliance it does not concern INEC. It is just to do the paperwork. The idea of coalition is based on what the party structure established for INEC. I want to believe that we may not have any particular challenge with INEC, as the case may be and if it happens we will make it public.”
Speaking on funding, Tanko said it is important the coalition is appropriately funded. He said that was the reason the stakeholders are trying to leverage people, who have the capacity to support and Nigerians who are really yearning for change.
“Our mission is to change the country for good, therefore we want to own the process without wanting to take money from any government. If the existing APC and PDP are using government resources to misrule the country, we must not be caught in a similar web. What we want is for Nigerians to own and be the one that will champion their own cause so that we would not have any shortage of funds to administer the challenges ahead.”
Tanko said a large number of political parties are already responding but the actual number is not yet known. “We are moving very fast and by His grace we will have a large number of parties,” he said.
He said there is no relationship between NcFront and NNPP, as some people are saying. “The movement is yet to adopt the Third Force party for the 2023 election.”
According to him, “considering the Election Timetable frame, all necessary discussions have been concluded, which is already in the press and the timetable for the fusion is ongoing quietly.
All partners and stakeholders are fusing quietly. “Very soon a national convention will be held where the adopted party will be unveiled. But it is not NNPP as people are insinuating.”
He assured that it is the NcFront that announces it will be the Third Force platform because of the conglomeration and amalgam of forces that are involved in the movement, such as civil societies, labour union, registered and deregistered parties and also aggrieved members of APC and PDP.
“NCFront is the biggest movement in the country now with not less than 10 million followers.”
He said what they are looking at is a fusion of political parties and other institutions into one major body and not a merger. At present over 15 political parties are said to have indicated interest to join the alliance.
Speaking in a similar vein, national spokesman of deregistered, Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP), Mr Sesugh Akume, agreed that no single minor party can defeat
APC at the center and PDP in any of the states without fusing together. This according to him has been realised by stakeholders in all the fringe parties and they are already discussing.
According to him, “I believe the alliance is doable. What usually stand in the way in the past are selfishness, narrow- mindedness and inability of politicians to look at the bigger picture but now APC and PDP have done so much damage to our collective socio-economic and political system that we have no choice but to come together to rescue our nation.
“For instance, we have everybody focusing on getting the presidency and each individual/party feels they are the Messiah. For this to work, the focus needs to be on how to take over the National and state Assemblies across the country. That should be the main target. Then governorships, before the presidency.”
Akume said there can only be one president at a time and the alternative parties are eager to let the process flow and a presidential candidate emerge through a fair and transparent process.
On funding, Akume said: “Funding is an issue but cannot be the main issue. If the groundwork is done, people donate to causes they believe in. Money fails those who rely solely on it.”
A self-acclaimed godfather of Governor Seyi Makinde in the Oyo State chapter of PDP, Alhaji Bisi Olopooeyan, who joined NNPP recently, also shared the same view that Nigeria needs the fusion of other platforms to stop bad governance in the country.
Speaking on the chances of the planned Mega Alternative platform, national chairman of SDP Agunloye said irrespective of the challenges, the plan is absolutely possible.
According to him: “There is hope for the other parties. It is not just hope for other parties; it is abundant hope for the alternative party in Nigeria, the Social Democratic Party. It is hope for Nigeria. It is hoped that Nigeria may survive 22 years of abuse, no power, degradation, and underdevelopment into which the siamese twins APC\PDP have plunged Nigeria into over the last 23 years. And this has been so because of the enormity of power, wealth, and influence, which they wield; not for emancipation or empowerment or wealth creation or job creation but to institutionalise injustice in the land and perpetuate imbalance, corruption, and devastation in our country.
“It is about Hope Again that Nigerians may no longer have to choose between two devils. It is that with SDP, Nigerians may exercise their own rights and evoke the power of choice to liberate themselves and the future of their children.”
On the fear that most existing fringe platforms today are stooges of APC and PDP, the SDP national chairman said it does not matter why or how SDP or other parties were set up.
“What matters now is that SDP has striven and struggled to free itself from being a stooge or appendage of any party or any individuals or any groups and has resolutely determined to present itself as the viable and credible alternative platform for progress in Nigeria. This we have done by maintaining a firm stance on ‘principles of social justice.’
“The process of rebuilding SDP started in 2016 under Chief Olu Falae and moved on with the re-organisation and repositioning programme under the leadership of Professor Tunde Adeniran in 2019 -2020, before I became the national chairman in 2023, to cap it with the single-mindedness to reenact the June 12 Hope at its 30th year anniversary in 2023.”
While the plan to coalesce is ongoing there are stories that the National Leader of APC Bola Tinubu may defect to SDP, if he is denied the presidential ticket in his party.
When asked if Tinubu or any notable politician is already discussing with SDP, Agunloye said, “even if there is something like that it is not expected of me to say it on the pages of the newspaper now.”
But Tinubu media handlers called it fake news.