As the week broke, the hope of those craving an end to Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) era in the country was buoyed with the news that the opposition had resolved to team up for the 14 July governorship poll in Edo State. BAYO OLADEJI examines the implication of the unfolding scenario for the 2015 poll.
The dream of the opposition to use the Edo State governorship election scheduled for 14 July as a test run for the 2015 general election appears to have collapsed even before they woke up from their deep slumber as the chief beneficiary of the scheme, Governor Adams Oshiomhole, denied reports that he and his party, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), had struck an alliance with the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC). But there is more.
According to reports last Tuesday, the July 14 governorship election in Edo State would provide a platform for the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) to test run their budding alliance with the presentation of a joint candidate for the election.
Under the plan, leaders of the two parties - Major General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu - are billed to be in Benin-City, the Edo State capital, this week for a rally where the governor and ACN candidate, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, will be presented to the electorate as the candidate of the two parties.
The reports further disclosed that the CPC governorship candidate, Mr. Roland Airhiavbere, would formally announce his decision to step down for Oshiomhole at the campaign rally.
Oshiomhole, a frontline runner in the election, is up against the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Major General Charles Airhiavbere (rtd), and the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) candidate, Chief Solomon Edevbie.
But an exclusive chat with a national daily 24 hours later, Oshiomhole said at no time did he or the ACN strike an accord with either the CPC or its presidential candidate, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) to field him as the governorship candidate in the election.
He stated that he does not need an alliance with the CPC to win election in the state, alleging that the rumour emanated from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The governor added that the ACN had won all the elections in the state based on his performance.
“Let me urgently debunk the story that Gen. Buhari and CPC are in alliance with ACN for Edo elections. I have not invited Buhari and I don’t need an alliance with CPC to win election in Edo. This is a story peddled by PDP.
ACN has won all the elections in Edo State since I assumed office based on my performance. I don’t need help outside ACN to win landslide. Edo people alone will determine my victory based on my performance,” Oshiomhole said.
Meanwhile, prior to the governor’s remarks, the state government had refuted the reports. A statement signed by the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr. Louis Odion, said: “our attention has been drawn to a media report insinuating an alliance between Edo State branch of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and Congress of Progressive Change (CPC) for the July 14 governorship polls in the state.
“To that effect, the newspaper added that the national leader of CPC, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), was being expected to join the national leaders of ACN at a grand rally in Benin City on Saturday, July 7”.
According to Odion, “We wish to debunk the report of the purported alliance between Edo ACN and Edo CPC for the purpose of the July 14 elections, and that General Buhari was being expected at the July 7 rally. It is only a figment of the writer’s imagination.
Neither has invitation been sent to the CPC leader nor is he being expected at the rally. It is our humble belief that the discerning Edo voters are appreciative of Oshiomhole’s sterling performance in the last 44 months and are more than willing to not only express themselves by voting for him resoundingly on July 14 but also defend their votes”.
The two parties in recent weeks have intensified talks to revive the alliance that broke down in the run-up to the last general election over irreconcilable differences.
A source close to the party leaders said the joint appearance of Buhari and Tinubu in Benin-City would demonstrate their seriousness and commitment to the ongoing talks to forge the alliance.It was learnt that as part of the arrangement, Buhari and his team would join Tinubu in a chartered flight billed to take off from Lagos to Benin-City for the campaign.
According to sources from both parties, efforts were being made to ensure the success of the ACN-CPC alliance to pave the way for the emergence of a stronger platform to challenge the PDP at the 2015 general election.
“The campaign rally is being planned to surpass that of the PDP attended by President Goodluck Jonathan last Saturday and to counteract whatever impact it might have had on the electorate,” one ACN party source reportedly said.
He said the two party leaders had decided to champion efforts to cement the relationship between their parties and to make sure that all impediments to the political alliance were addressed at the highest level.
The source added that hopes for an alliance were bolstered by the fact that the South-west appears to be uninterested in contesting for the presidency in 2015 and as such, the ACN would be well disposed to back a Buhari presidential bid.
He said the parties are exploring two options of either forming an opposition coalition or going for an outright merger before the next general election. However, the leaders of the two parties are said to have chosen to use the Edo State gubernatorial contest to test waters with the CPC backing of Oshiomhole.
Buhari is scheduled to brief members of the CPC Board of Trustees (BoT) and other leaders of the party on the progress made so far on the collaborative talks with ACN later this month.
Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, Tuesday denied reports that he and his party, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), had struck an alliance with the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) in the July 14 governorship election in the state.
Speaking with a national daily last week, Oshiomhole said at no time did he or the ACN strike an accord with either the CPC or its presidential candidate, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) to field him as the governorship candidate in the election.
He stated that he does not need alliance with the CPC to win election in the state, alleging that the rumour emanated from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
With this new development, the conspiracy against the PDP might once again be a mirage just like that of last year when the two leading opposition parties parted ways on the eve of the Presidential poll when least expected.
The two then used the media to settle their scores over who did what and that was even after the election which they both suffered a heavy defeat in the hands of the ruling party.
But why should Oshiomole dump such an alliance in the works? Informed sources disclosed that he might have done this for political survival as the people of the Niger Delta region see President Godluck Jonathan as their own and they are doing whatever it takes to stand by him come sun and come rain.
The North wants the power back come 2015 and the only opposition on its way is the Jonathan presidency and any indigene of the South-South that teams up with the North would face a stiff sanction and Oshiomole is aware of this hence to secure the second term, he has to disown the alliance. This is because the PDP candidate would use the alliance with Buhari to deny him the people’s mandate.
This was what the Yoruba did for former President Olusegun Obasanjo when there was a plot to kick him out of power through impeachment. When Obasanjo contested for the presidency in 1999, his race dumped him and voted Chief Olu Falae instead.
And even when their son won the election they still avoided him like a plague and this was what the opposition misunderstood and they moved against him thorough the National Assembly leadership but the hell was let loose and the Yoruba had to protect their own and this not only retained Obasanjo but gave him the much-sought second term mandate.
The CPC and ACN leadership has a lot of work to do if the alliance being touted to unseat the ruling PDP would become a reality. There would be a need for chieftains to sacrifice their personal ambitions in order to realise their common goal. But could they? If they thought they could Oshiomole might have opened their eyes to this tactical blunder!
The opposition must work round the clock to present a common platform and it must go beyond the two leading opposition parties. It should be an all-embracing platform this is because the last election has shown that for a party to win the Presidency, not fewer than five of the geo-political zones must endorse its candidate.
The ACN is the dominant party in the Southwest while the stronghold of the CPC is the Northwest while the PDP has presence in all the zones. The Southeast and the South-South including the North Central remain the stronghold of the ruling PDP. And unless the menace of the Boko Haram is gone it would be difficult for the Southwest to embrace the alliance when the chips are down.
Most of the victims of the violence orchestrated by the sect see their ordeal as the handiwork of the Northern political elite who are hungry for power.
Even the opposition itself is not together, the CPC has its own rebels whose mission still remains unknown. Other parties such as ANPP, APGA, Labour Party, PPA, ACCORD PARTY and a few others are more or less the satellites for the ruling party.
And bringing them on board could mean asking PDP chieftains to be part of the alliance and ignoring them might spell a doom for the political plot. Apparently the opposition is in a dilemma.
The opposition talks are being kept away from the media for strategic reasons yet the media keep on feeding on their nocturnal meetings and this does not go down well with the opposition yet the more they try to keep their plan to their chest the more they read of it on the pages of newspapers.
The opposition has not shown any sign of seriousness and commitment and until this is done, the voters would not take them serious.