OPPOSITION PARTIES’ MERGER: When actions struggle to get equal reactions


According to Isaac Newton, the brilliant English physicist and mathematician, to every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. This law, known as Newton’s third law, says that if any object A acts a force upon another object B, then object B will exert an opposite yet equal force upon object A.

Also called the law of action and reaction, the law is responsible for many scientific feats.

For the sake of clarity, Newton’s third law is the reason why humans can walk on the earth without floating like astronauts in a spaceship. This is true because the earth pulls people down with gravitational force and people, on their part, exert an equal amount of force on the earth, thereby making regular movements feasible.

Contrary to Newton’s third law, however, the actions of former Vice president, Atiku Abubakar, to rally other opposition parties to form a mega party/coalition that will be a match for the might of Nigeria’s ruling party, the All Progressives Congress, in the 2027 general elections, have not gotten the right kind of reactions that can spur opposition political renaissance.

Atiku was a losing candidate and flew the flag of the People’s Democratic Party in the February 25, 2023 presidential election. Though he beat his former running mate in the 2015 presidential election, the candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, to second place, Atiku however failed to vanquish the eventual winner and candidate of the APC, Bola Tinubu.

The soft-spoken politician who hails from Adamawa State, afterwards, vowed in March 2023 to redress the grievances of what he, Atiku, described as the worst election conducted by electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission, since the country’s return to democracy in 1999.

Atiku also insisted that the election was not free and fair.

Eventually, the legal hostilities which started at the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal culminated with the judgment of the Supreme Court which upheld Tinubu’s election in October 2023 and dismissed Atiku’s appeal to dim the light of said victory
Although Atiku rejected the judgment of the apex court, he, nonetheless, perceived that Tinubu’s victory, which got the Supreme Court’s seal of approval, was the end of the road for his presidency dreams. He, thus, decided to go back to the drawing board.

Nigerians did not have to wait for long for Atiku’s next move. In November 2023, he announced that only a coalition of opposition political parties could unseat the APC in the 2027 general elections. According to Atiku, there is no opposition party, including the PDP, that can singlehandedly turn the tables on the APC.

Atiku made the call in Abuja when he hosted the national executive committee of the Inter-Party Advisory Council, a platform of all Nigerian political parties, bar the APC, led by their national president, Yabagi Sani.
The Waziri Adamawa had also touched on Nigeria becoming a one-party state.

“We have all seen how the APC is increasingly turning Nigeria into a dictatorship of one party.

“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,” Atiku told those present.

After the merger proposal was tabled by Atiku, the opposition began to sing discordant tunes, with members of the Labour Party and New Nigeria People’s Party, speaking out of both sides of their mouths.

While denying a publication that his party had accepted Atiku’s proposal, the National Publicity Secretary of the Labour Party, Obiora Ifoh, said the party was not interested in a merger arrangement with any political party.

In like manner, the NNPP had equally rebuffed Atiku’s offer. In fact, one of the factions in the party loyal to their candidate in last year’s presidential election, Rabiu Kwankwaso, had insisted that the party would only hop on Atiku’s merger train if the leader of the Kwankwasiyya movement was established as the presidential candidate for the coalition.

The LP and NNPP, however, did commend Atiku for his ingenuity but it was political economist, Pat Utomi’s declaration in January this year that Atiku, Obi and Kwankwaso had agreed to form a mega party that caught the attention of keen political observers who felt that Utomi was not spilling the complete tea about the “merger”.

This was because when pressed for further information about the outcome of the “get-together” between the three political heavyweights, Utomi provided mostly vague answers.

For instance, the Labour Party chieftain did not reveal what the name of the new party was or who among the three leading politicians would emerge as flagbearer of the coalition and that had heightened scepticism.

And then at the tail end of last month, Atiku congratulated Senegal’s new president-elect, Bassirou Diomaye Faye, and stated, while reiterating his call for opposition parties to forge a coalition, that Nigeria could learn from the Senegal experience.

Faye was in the opposition and Atiku was upbeat about INEC, whom he lampooned mercilessly, being able to conduct an election, just like 2015, that gives confidence to all parties and the voters. An opposition party at the time, the APC, won the presidential election and ended the 16-year reign of the then ruling party, the PDP, at the summit.

A part of Atiku’s congratulatory message said, “It is important to note that last Sunday’s (March 24) election in Senegal follows the trend of that in Nigeria in 2015 that the opposition can indeed be victorious in an election conducted by the ruling party.

“And for the opposition parties, the lessons are in agreement with my persistent call for our opposition parties to forge a coalition that is formidable enough to oust the ruling party if the salvaging of Nigeria is to stand any chance.”

An Anambra state-based political analyst, Maxwell Opara, on whether Atiku’s efforts to rally the opposition to form a coalition, are yielding fruits said, “Why is Atiku wasting his time? Obviously, these other opposition parties are not reciprocating the same level of seriousness he (Atiku) is bringing to the table.

“Listen, it takes two to tango. This is not how to form a coalition. From all indications, some people have not learned their lessons. Maybe another defeat in 2027 will rewire their brains”

“Nothing concrete has been decided or agreed upon since Atiku first cried out for a merger last year.

“And did you see his congratulatory message to the young Senegalese president? For goodness sake, how can Atiku still be talking about the formation of a mega party in March 2024?

“I thought Utomi said quite early this year that they have all agreed to form a coalition.

“Listen, it takes two to tango. This is not how to form a coalition. From all indications, some people have not learned their lessons. Maybe another defeat in 2027 will rewire their brains.”

Another analyst, Solomon Akan Usanga, however said with time, Atiku’s bold coalition dreams will become reality.

“I think it is too early to say that Atiku is not making any progress. We still have three long years to the election and anything can happen along the way.

“We seem to forget that Atiku is vastly experienced and knows his worth and influence on people. My candid advice is: let us relax a bit and watch this man. He will deliver a coalition party. His bold dreams will become reality.

“I do agree that Utomi said that Atiku, Obi and Kwankwaso have agreed to form a mega party. But I do not agree with those who say that the plan has fallen through.

“Certainly, it is possible that disagreements may have arisen among them. But trust me; the desire for victory in 2027 will thrash every outstanding issue out for them.”

A former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress, Yekini Nabena, on Tuesday, said despite talks of a merger and plots by opposition parties to use the economic hardship to discredit the current administration, President Bola Tinubu will complete his two terms of eight years in office.

The APC chieftain also declared that no political coup in the National Assembly will remove the incumbent President of the Senate, Senator Godswill Akpabio, following the controversy that trailed the three-month suspension of the Senator representing Bauchi Central over allegations of N3.7trn padding of the 2024 Budget.

In a statement issued in Abuja on Tuesday, Nabena emphasized that Nigeria’s unity must not be compromised.

He said, “Again, we must also tell the plotters of the mega party and those thinking of merging that we are not afraid of any. If former President Muhammadu Buhari could complete his eight years in office, by the grace of God, the incumbent President Bola Tinubu will do the same.

“Not even the talk of a mega party or merger can stop him. The South will not fight each other again for another region to benefit. The era of division in Southern Nigeria is gone for good.

“I am hopeful that even before the next election, the results of the ongoing reforms will be evidenced even to the blind, and those plotting a mega party or merger will not have an option than to accept defeat before the election.

“The same goes for the President of the Senate, Senator Godswill Akpabio. He will also complete his term as the Chairman of the National Assembly in grand style. No threat, blackmail or political machination will do otherwise.

“It must be placed on record that we Nigerians from the South are satisfied with the level of representation we are getting from our representatives in the National Assembly and we have passed a vote of confidence on them for standing tall.”