With 2027 on their minds, seven opposition political parties have commenced talks for a possible coalition or merger ahead of subsequent elections in the country.
The coalition is made up of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), African Democratic Congress (ADC), Social Democratic Party(SDP) Allied Peoples Movement, (APM) New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Young Progressives Party (YPP), and Zenith Labour Party (ZLP).
The seven opposition political parties, which spoke on the umbrella of Coalition of Concerned Political Parties, expressed concern over the integrity of the judiciary in Nigeria and national security as well as fear of Nigeria sliding into a one party state.
Former Vice-President, Atiku Abubakar, had hosted a delegation of the Inter-party Advisory Council, where he expressed fears of the possibility of the country falling into a one-state party, and urged them to see the need for unity.
The coalition also expressed worry on the level of instability in the country, urging the judicial system to save Nigeria’s democracy and rid itself of political and executive interference.
The coalition, however, urged the judiciary to strengthen their conviction towards delivering judgements that could stand the test of time.
Although the Labour Party was not at the meeting, its National Chairman, Julius Abure, who spoke differently, said if merger or coalition became an option, his party would consider the option.
Arising from the outcome of the 2023 elections and the off-season elections in Imo, Bayelsa and Kogi governorship elections, he said it was apparent Nigeria was gradually sliding to a one-party state.
“From the pronouncements of courts, there are genuine fears that are being expressed that Nigeria is moving towards one party state.
“If it will save Nigeria, why not? If it will save our democracy, why not? If it will help us have result, why not? If it will enhance our institutions and put food on our table, why not?”
Abure, however, said the Labour Party was yet to consider the idea, but added that, “It is an option we can look at. But the labour party has not taken a position on this. Personally, if that becomes an option to save Nigeria, why not?”
Speaking at a press conference after a preliminary meeting, the acting National Secretary of the PDP, Setonji Koshoedo, who represented the party’s acting National Chairman, Umar Damagum, said, “This coalition wants to offer strong opposition for the good of Nigeria. Our duty is to offer alternative solutions to government policies.”
The National Chairman of the Social Democratic Party, Shehu Gabam, noted that, “We looked into the issue of the judiciary. The judiciary is the last hope of the common man, if it still stands.
“We are worried about the level of instability the country is going through. If you look at recent developments in Zamfara, Nasarawa, Kano and Plateau States, it is very clear that the judiciary must exercise extreme caution with some of its decisions.
“The judiciary should strengthen their conviction towards delivering judgments that can stand the test of time. They should not allow we politicians to infiltrate their rank, sanity and capacity to deliver judgments that are internationally sound and can be recognised,” he said.
Speaking on insecurity, he averred that the security situation in the country was getting worse.
“We have looked at the security situation in the country with a lot of concern. When the President came in, he promised to do everything humanly possible to secure lives and properties of Nigerians. We want to urge him to do more than he is doing; the security situation is not improving.
“For him to have a conducive environment, where people can invest domestically and internationally, the nation must be secured. Any nation that can’t secure the lives of citizens cannot think of attracting investors from anywhere. The environment is choked, it is not secured, people cannot move freely; they need to rejig the security system.”
Gabam urged the National Assembly to review and rejig the 2024 budget, lamenting that Nigeria was operating a theoretical budget and not an ‘operational budget.’
His words: “We have also looked at the issue of the renewed hope budget. We have analysed that budget and in our own humble analysis and opinion, we believe strongly that the National Assembly needs to step in and review the budget.
“Our population is over 200m, and by now it must have doubled that number. We don’t want a budget that is theory based, the budget must be operational. It is in the interest of the country for the leadership to develop an operational budget, not a budget based on projections and theories that cannot be realised.”
On his part, the national chairman of the ADC, Chief Ralph Nwosu, said the idea behind the coalition “is to strengthen our democracy. We have seen that people in government are trying to stifle viable opposition.
Representatives of other parties at the press conference were the National Chairman of Allied Peoples Movement of APM, Yusuf Dantalle and Acting National Chairman of New Nigeria Peoples Party, Abba Ali.
Others were the National Publicity Secretary of Young Progressive Party, Egbeola Martins and the National Secretary of Zenith Labour Party, Yahaya Makama.