Opposition parties on Tuesday took their planned merger against the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) a step further when 10 governors from four different political parties met in Lagos and unanimously endorsed merger plans by their leaders.
The governors, in a communiqué at the end of the meeting, said they hoped to wrestle power from the PDP in 2015 and take the country out of its "current political quagmire."
The opposition governors spoke after a four-hour closed door meeting at the Lagos House, Marina, Lagos.
However, the PDP said on Tuesday that it supported the merger by the opposition political parties because it would strengthen "national debate". It also said that it prayed for the success of the project.
The National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Olisa Metuh, who said this in a telephone interview, said such a merger or alliance must not be based on ethnic and religious sentiments. He said it must also not be based on any personal agenda.
"We welcome the alliance or the merger. It is in the best interest of the country as it would provide a viable opposition. It would also lead to a healthy debate in the polity. But such an alliance or merger must not be based on ethnicity or any religion," he said. "It must also be national in outlook. We pray it works. We are not against it at all."
The governors present included Babatunde Fashola (Lagos), Rauf Aregbesola (Osun), Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti) and Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo), all belonging to the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Rochas Okorocha of Imo, a member of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), Kashim Shettima of Borno and Abdul-Aziz Yari of Zamfara both of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) as well as Umaru Tanko Al-Makura of Nasarawa State, a member of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC). Gov. Ibrahim Gaidam of Yobe (ANPP) was represented by Sen. Alkali Jajere at the meeting, which held at the Lagos State Government House, Ikeja.
Addressing newsmen on behalf of the others, Shettima said the resolve of the governors to support the merger was borne out of the need to rescue Nigeria from its present state."Having reviewed the situation in our country, we resolved that to rescue Nigeria is a task that must be done," he said. "As progressive and patriotic leaders of our people across party, religious and geo-political zones, we are extremely concerned about the state of the nation, which informed this meeting.
"We fully endorsed the merger initiatives already commenced by our various political parties and we will put our full weight behind these efforts."
Also speaking, Imo State Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, noted that there is no room for skepticism over the merger plans, saying the project will be driven by the governors and leaders of the parties.
"The merger has become very necessary to save our democracy and the likelihood of turning Nigeria into a one-party state does not augur well for democracy, therefore, I personally fully endorse this movement and this new merger at least to rescue the nation, and we say we are on a rescue mission here and to make sure Nigeria gets better, the essence of this whole merger is to make Nigeria a better nation," Okorocha said.
Fashola’s views were not different from his Ogun State counterpart, Ibikunle Amosun, who assured that a lot of other people will come on board once they see the sincerity of those driving the process. "That is why we are not taking this lightly, we are very determined and I am sure that with the support of all Nigerians, this merger will work," Amosun said.
Amosun dismissed fears over the workability of the merger, saying the stakeholders in the alliance were determined to ensure its success.
He said the merger would promote national development and implored Nigerians to support efforts to make it succeed.
Yari said the brains behind the merger would offer a better political option to what the nation had witnessed since her return to democracy in 1999.
He said, "The objective is to fix Nigeria in the right perspective. Go and ask many people outside here whether they are happy since 1999 till date. It is a duty for all of us as leaders to drive our people right and we believe the PDP has done less. “We have the knowledge and progressive idea to move the country forward, so if you say that we intend to move the PDP out of power, yes we are ready to do that."