2027: How prepared are the opposition parties?

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A professor of political economy, Pat Utomi, said recently that there were conversations with the presidential candidates of Labour Party, the People’s Democratic Party and the New Nigeria People’s Party, Peter Obi, Atiku Abubakar and Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso respectively as a part of the plans to form a mega party ahead of the 2027 presidential election.

He said that the motive is to save ordinary Nigerians from the clutches of the All Progressives Congress, which he described as a private enterprise of few individuals.

Utomi added that Nigeria is degenerating because none of the political parties was ready to give the country a clear direction.

He said, “We are looking at a way Nigeria can work for everybody. Let us build a political party that can bring the issues to the forefront for all the Nigerian people to have a kind of consensus to solve problems.

“If we have that consensus we would have Nigerians who can provide leadership positions. And the positions would not be about what they would get for themselves, because this narcissism is a cancer that is tearing Nigerian politics down.

“What we need are people who can sacrificially give up themselves to build a country and the possible reward is immortality. I talked to some presidential candidates in the last election.

“We had conversations with Peter Obi, Atiku Abubakar and Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, among others as some of those who would probably constitute the mega party.

“I told them that it is not about you but Nigerians. It is about the ordinary person in the street. It is about moving from sharing oil proceeds to building the most productive economy.”

Atiku declares readiness to lead coalition against Tinubu, APC

In the same vein, Atiku Abubakar has declared readiness to lead a coalition of opposition parties to remove the ruling APC, come 2027.

Atiku disclosed this in a congratulatory message to governors of the PDP, whose elections were upheld by the Supreme Court on Friday.

In a statement signed by his Media Office in Abuja, Atiku described the decision of the court as good news for the people of Bauchi, Plateau, Cross River and Zamfara States, and indeed, a win for constitutional democracy.
He reaffirmed his position that only a united opposition force can strengthen democracy in Nigeria.

Atiku was quoted as saying, “I am as prepared as ever, to lead the charge, alongside all our leaders and Governors, for the good of our country.”

According to him, “Where Justice is seen to have been substantially rendered, we, as patriots and citizens, will always applaud.”

Atiku equally said by the judgment of the Supreme Court, “there is a guaranteed continuation of the standards of good governance which the PDP has brought to the respective states.”

He called on the respective PDP governors, namely: Bala Mohammed of Bauchi, Dauda Lawal of Zamfara, Caleb Muftwang of Plateau and Umo Eno of Akwa Ibom to see their wins at the Supreme Court as an opportunity to consolidate and expand the scope of the good governance they have already established.

“Our leader, Nyesom Wike, has already made a declaration that in 2027, we are supporting President Bola Ahmed Tinubu”

It will be difficult to dislodge APC in 2027, declares PDP

However, the PDP has revealed that it will be difficult to dislodge the APC in the 2027 presidential election without a genuine coalition.

The PDP Deputy Publicity Secretary, Ibrahim Abdullahi, who stated this in an interview, said Atiku made the call to protect the future of Nigeria and Nigerians.

Abdullahi, who alleged that the APC had impoverished Nigerians, said that only a genuine coalition of opposition political parties could boot out the President Bola Tinubu-led APC administration.

He said, “We believe only merger or coming together of all opposition political parties will produce a better result. So there is a need for other political parties to understand that it will be difficult to defeat the All Progressives Congress without a merger.

“So the other political parties must see the reason and identify with the PDP’s clamour for coalition. So, if they see this, then the better for Nigeria’s opposition and the people.

“But if other political parties want to go about it individually, they are not as strong as the PDP. It is very difficult for us to attain the objective of taking charge of the government and sacking this army of occupation that has decided to inflict maximum penury and anguish on Nigerians.”

The PDP Deputy National Youth Leader, Timothy Osadolor, also noted that opposition political parties would find it difficult to dislodge the ruling party without synergy with the people.

PDP G5 governors will back Tinubu in 2027 – Ortom
A former Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom, has also said that the G5 governors of the PDP would replicate support for President Bola Tinubu’s candidacy in 2027 if he decided to seek re-election
Ortom stated this during a New Year luncheon hosted by the Minister of Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike, in Rivers State.

Members of the G5 governors are Ortom, Wike, former Enugu State Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, former Abia State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, and the Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde.

While four of the governors completed their second term in May 2023, Makinde, who was the only first-time governor at the time, was re-elected in the 18 March 18, 2023 governorship election.

The group led by Wike refused to back the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, in the February 2023 election due to the party’s refusal to remove its National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, to ensure balance in its leadership.

It had canvassed the emergence of a Southerner as the national chairman of the party since both Ayu and Atiku are both northerners.

Ortom said the G5 had no regrets supporting Tinubu in last year’s election and would back him for a second term.

“If we work to ensure Bola Ahmed succeeds, there will be tomorrow for anybody to even contest the election at all.

“Our leader, Nyesom Wike, has already made a declaration that in 2027, we are supporting President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

“We have nowhere to go because that is what Nigerians believe. Even the past administration that took Nigeria from top to bottom, we allowed them to work for eight years.

“So, why can’t a seasoned administrator in the person of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu rule us for eight years,” the former Benue governor said.

Ortom assured that President Tinubu would address the economy, security, and other major challenges facing Nigerians.

Atiku deserves another chance in 2027 – Bwala

The spokesperson of the Atiku Abubakar Presidential Campaign Organization, Daniel Bwala on Wednesday said the former Vice President deserves another chance to vie for the 2027 Presidency.

Bwala in an interview aired at Channels TV, confirmed that the PDP flag bearer in the 2023 presidential election has what it takes to win the election in a free and fair contest.

“Sure, he would run. He has the capacity, he has the wisdom, he has the knowledge, he has the energy,” he said.

Bwala who described Atiku Abubakar as the” President we never had”, added that “Because to be honest with you, if any politician understands the private sector very well, it is Atiku Abubakar, and our economy can only come alive if there is a private sector-led economy.”

Bwala, a legal practitioner and political analyst, noted that Atiku’s persistent presidential ambitions may be contributing to the internal turmoil within the PDP.
If Atiku Abubakar contests the 2027 election, he would have set a record of contesting the Presidential election for the seventh time, having previously contested in 1993, 2007, 2011, 2015, 2019, and in 2023.

Bwala backpedals, pledges support to Tinubu

Barely 12 hours after Bwala declared that Atiku deserves another chance to vie for the 2027 Presidency, he also pledged his support to President Tinubu in his cause to move the country forward.

Bwala was at the Presidential Villa on Wednesday where he met with President Bola Tinubu.

After the meeting, Bwala told the State House correspondents that he came at the invitation of the President.

“I’m here as a private citizen who must be bound by the conviction we have towards our country and the need for us to push the country to a better place that we all desire.

“I’m not even a leader in the PDP, I’m a private citizen but you must also admit that I have had my history with Mr President, when I was in the APC. Before the primaries I was practically his key spokesman and I supported his cause because I believed in him.

“I am also here to say I am supporting President Bola Ahmed Tinubu in achieving the objectives of the problems in the country. I don’t think in these times of hunger and problems in the country somebody should be here talking about a party.”

He did not disclose whether he has defected from the PDP for APC but reiterated that he is fully committed to supporting the President.

Previous political alliances in Nigeria

This is not the first time opposition political parties have tried to forge a common front against a ruling party. It has become a recurring decimal in every election cycle.

But only one of such attempts had been successful in the history of Nigeria’s multi-party democracy, and that was in 2015.

Nigerians with a sense of history might remember the formation of the Progressive Parties Alliance in the run-up to the 1983 general elections, by opposition political parties of the second republic.

This alliance however failed to stop the ruling National Party of Nigeria from winning a “landslide” in the election, the reason being the failure of the coalition parties to agree on a consensus presidential candidate for the election.

The four parties in the alliance, the Unity Party of Nigeria, the Nigeria People’s Party, the Great Nigeria People’s Party, and the People’s Redemption Party, not only provided individual candidate for the 1983 presidential election on their political platforms, but a new political party, the National Advanced Party, also contested the election, which further split opposition votes.

The height of the opposition parties’ alliance was the 2018 formation of the Coalition of the United Political Parties by 40 registered parties led by the PDP.

The coalition parties later signed a memorandum of understanding “to mobilise support for consensus candidates at the centre, states, and the legislative arm of government.”

Although Atiku Abubakar, the PDP candidate was later adopted as a consensus candidate for the 2019 presidential election by some CUPP members, the coalition again failed because the ruling APC was able to break its rank with mouth-watering promises to some coalition parties, the promises that were observed in the breach.

Muhammadu Buhari, the APC candidate was re-elected. Even before the 2013 merger that eventually led to the formation of the APC, attempts by the opposition parties to come together before the 2011 general elections against the then-ruling party, the PDP, failed.

The merger talk which collapsed at the last minute was between the Congress for Progressives Change and the Action Congress of Nigeria. The ACN National Chairman, Bisi Akande, told journalists that the party decided to call the merger off because the CPC was not demonstrating sufficient seriousness and political will to forge a workable alliance.

Akande said, “In the overall interest of the parties involved, our democracy as well as our country, each of the parties should go into the presidential election on its platform.”

The merger talk broke down because the CPC presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, and his ACN counterpart Nuhu Ribadu, refused to step down for each other, and so Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP was returned as president in 2011.

“I am also here to say I am supporting President Bola Ahmed Tinubu in achieving the objectives of the problems in the country. I don’t think in these times of hunger and problems in the country somebody should be here talking about a party”

The parties were however much wiser in 2013 by agreeing to register a new political party entirely, and that was why the merger talk was successful. The alliance parties, the ACN, the CPC and the All Nigeria People’s Party returned their certificates of registration to INEC to enable them to register a brand new political party, the All Progressives Congress for the 2015 general elections. That was how they were able to resolve the issue of conflict of interest and wrestle power from the PDP.

There was a rumour of a possible alliance by candidates of the PDP, LP and NNPP before last year’s presidential election. Atiku even said so in an interview with the BBC Hausa. But he was rejected by both the LP and the NNPP.
Akin Osuntokun, the Director General of Labour Party presidential campaign said the alliance could only be possible if Atiku was ready to “renounce his ticket and throw his considerable political weight behind us. No individual ambition should override the North/ South rotation convention…” And for Major Agbor, the National Publicity Secretary of the NNPP, Atiku was the one to step down for Kwankwaso, not the other way around.

“There are talks and there would be no talks in this direction except the former vice-president throwing his weight of support for Dr. Rabiu Kwankwaso,” he added.

With the failure of the PDP and LP to upturn the election of President Bola Tinubu at the courts, opposition parties are once again forging an alliance against the 2027 general elections. The PDP candidate Atiku Abubakar was the first to moot the idea when the leadership of the Inter-Party Advisory Council visited him.

Atiku told his visitors “If we don’t come together to challenge what the ruling party is trying to create, our democracy will suffer for it, and the consequences of it will affect the generations yet unborn. The project of protecting democracy in our country is not about just one man.”

The immediate reaction from some opposition parties was dismissive. The Labour Party said it was reorganising after the 2023 general elections.

But with the call by Utomi’s led NCFront, perhaps, the party may show interest. The three former presidential candidates, Atiku Abubakar of the PDP, Peter Obi of the LP and Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso of the NNPP, who are now leading opposition politics in the country, are not strangers to each other. Obi was Atiku’s running mate in the 2019 presidential election. There was also a move for him to pair with Kwankwaso in the 2023 presidential election.

Obi and Kwankwaso were in PDP until 2021/22 to contest on other party platforms. Therefore, allying may not be difficult if they are determined to work together. However, their ambition might work against the proposed alliance.

Atiku has been trying to be Nigeria’s president since 1993. The last presidential election was his 6th. Although he will be 81 years old in 2027, the former vice president does not seem to be ready to quit politics. Many people expected him to announce his retirement from politics when he addressed PDP leaders after the Supreme Court rejected his appeal against Tinubu’s election, but he said he was not quitting politics now.

Obi, on the other hand, may not be likely to bury his presidential ambitions given his impressive performance in the last presidential election. The former Anambra State governor, against all odds, won in eleven states and Abuja, (the same number of states won by Tinubu and Atiku), to come third. He secured over six million votes. Obi is looking forward to giving the incumbent a strong fight in the next presidential election. Though Kwankwaso won only Kano State in the election, he still believes he has the chance to rule the country.