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2019: As CUPP Raises The Bar Of Opposition Politics

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In this report, EMAMEH GABRIEL writes on the emergence of Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) and its implications on the political terrain ahead of the 2019 general elections.

In what seemed like a semblance of events leading to the build-up to the 2015 general elections, the move to wrestle power from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2019 has been triggered as no less than 39 opposition political parties led by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) including a splinter group of the APC (rAPC) led Buba Galadima, converged in Abuja on Monday at Yar’Adua Centre to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the need to work together as a coalition.
The singing of the MoU is believed to be the first among other major steps aimed at producing a consensus presidential candidate that will fly the flag of the merging political parties in the 2019 presidential election. Hence, the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) was birthed. The essence is to jointly capture power at the centre and thereafter form a national unity government, among others.
To many, the move may have, to some level, addressed the need to have a formidable opposition, which will give ruling party a run for its money in 2019.

Prominent political leaders who witnessed the MoU signing included Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, former Vice President and presidential aspirant Atiku Abubakar, PDP national chairman Uche Secondus, Buba Galadima, former Plataue State Governor, Jonah Jang, former Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode, Ibrahim Mantu, Senator Wali Jibril, Senator David Mark, Tom Ikimi, and Raymond Dokpesi.
Others were Senator Godswill Akpabio, Leo Imoke, Udom Emmanuel, Ambassador Aminu Wali, Abia State Governor, Senator Dino Melaye, Kasim Afegbua, Senator Ahmed Makerefi, Ibrahim Dankambo, Mukta Yari, Gbenga Daniel, Adolphus Wabara, Babaginda Aliu, Chief Ladoja, Captain Idris Wada, Peter Obi, Celestine Omehia, Governor Wike, Abubakar Baraje, Olu Falae and a host of power brokers.
With the PDP acting as the rallying point for the coalition, among signatories to the pact are: Reformed All Progressive Congress (R-APC), Social Democratic Party (SDP), Action Alliance (AA), Alliance for Democracy (AD), Africa Democratic Party (ADC), Action Democratic Party (ADP), All Grand Alliance Party (AGAP) and Action Peoples Party (APP).
Others are Advanced Congress of Democrats (ACD), Better Nigeria Progressive Party (BNPP), Democratic Alternative (DA), Democratic Peoples Party (DPC), Grand Democratic Party of Nigeria (GDPN), Green Party of Nigeria (GPN), KOWA Party, Labour Party (LP), Mass Action Joint Alliance (MAJA), Masses Movement of Nigeria (MMN).
Others include National Conscience Party (NCP), New Generation Party (NGP), National Unity Party (NUP), Nigeria Intervention Movement (NIM), Peoples Alliance for National Development and Liberty (PANDEL), Peoples Progressive Party (PPP), People for Democratic Change (PDC), Providence People’s Congress (PPC). Others are Restoration Party of Nigeria (RPN), Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), All Grassroots Alliance (AGA), National Interest Party (NIP), Nigeria Democratic Congress Party (NDCP), Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA) and Young Democratic Party (YDP), among others.

The coalition had also saw the return of the leader of the nPDP, Kawu Baraje and Senator Dino Melaye to the PDP both of whom expressed their regrets for being part of the forces that brought PDP to its knee in 2015.
Appending signatures to the accord, the parties resolved: “That they shall promote a positive reaction to the above listed failures of the present regime and to give hope to all our people, the Parties shall ensure that the coalition is committed to working together in support of the single Presidential Candidate to contest the 2019 Presidential election in order to successfully enthrone a true democrat who will salvage the nation from the misrule of the APC Government.
“That the Parties shall promote acceptable core values for the restructuring of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, secure lives and property, rebuild and redirect our nation’s economy back onto the path of growth, respect human rights and freedoms, protect and uphold the cherished values of democracy and the democratic institutions and generally put right the country which unfortunately has now been dangerously divided along ethnic, religious and tribal lines.

“That the parties shall encourage state alliances between themselves to ensure that the cooperating parties under the grand alliance emerge victorious at State Governorship, State Legislature and National Assembly elections.
“That the parties accept the policy of zoning political and elective offices between the six geopolitical zones of the Federations THAT the Parties shall ensure that the emergent President under the grand alliance shall treat the presentation of an Executive Bill on Restructuring and Devolution of powers to the National Assembly a major priority,” they agreed.
While PDP may benefit more from the coalition, the credit for the success of the new union goes to the Buba Galadima-led rAPC, which comprised of other aggrieved members of the nPDP who broke away from the APC with the splinter group.
Their decision to dump the Oshiomhole-led APC, according to analysts, has not only increased the confidence and chances of the opposition PDP but has also raised the bar of opposition politics in the country.
Members of the Galadima faction of the APC otherwise known as rAPC and nPDP comprising mainly members of the National Assembly elected under the platform of the APC, had before the recent APC national convention threatened to pull out of the party if their grievances were not addressed, though promised they were still open for talks with the emergence of the new leadership of the party.
However, things turned out the other way. Why they activated a parallel structure in the party and subsequently pitched tent with PDP despite efforts by the new NWC led by Oshiomhole, to calm frayed nerves and bring all aggrieved parties to the table for talks, still remain disputed to leadership of the APC.

Like what goes around, comes around, the opposition PDP is harvesting from the APC what the latter harvested from the outcome of its 2013 national convention- similar leadership crisis, war of ego and who takes control over party structures at all level as manifested in the party’s just concluded states congresses and national convention.
Since the formation of the splinter group, rAPC, and subsequently the coalition platform, CUPP, the fierce competition among the major political parties have heightened the suspense in the political atmosphere of the country even as leading opposition leaders have warned that the international community is watching should the ruling party attempt to use government machinaries to hound their members.
‘‘The conquest of APC government is already known by Nigerians but they are waiting for you to take action. We are not afraid. We are ready to go to jail until the salvation of this country is restored the national chairman of PDP,” Secondus had cried out while giving a goodwill message at the signing of the CUPP MoU.
“We have all witnessed all forms of intimidation aimed at suffocating democracy in our land, frame ups, arrests and total breakdown of law and order in some areas.
“Just last week, the APC conquest regime came up with executive order which all political watchers, including civil society groups, likened to Decree 2 of the military era. We know why they are doing this on the eve of a general election because they know the people have turned their back on them but they want to retain power at all cost, including cowing us down, he noted.
“But we cannot be cowed; if our heroes past had been cowed down in these historic events I just highlighted above that we would not have democracy or a nation today. We must stand up for the rule of law to prevail or posterity would judge us harshly,” added Secondus, who further warned that there would be no election in 2019 if the Ekiti State election is rigged.
On his part, the leader of the splinter rAPC, Galadima had said, ‘‘from the day we announced the formation of the Reformed APC, a lot of people received threats, a lot of people received gratification and a lot of people received the pressures from all quarters to persuade them to back out. But one person that most people could not approach; I don’t want to mention names.

“Some of us are old soldiers and history said they never died. We are ready, prepared to take on this fight despite any deprivation, intimidation and even torture because this country belongs to all of us. They are thinking of setting aside public money, which they accused others of using during elections for this purpose.
“They can use the big stick because you know a desperate person can do anything. He can kill, if he has power, he can arrest and detain but whichever one they choose to do, we are prepared to lay down our lives to save our nation’’, Galadima added.
The question on the lips of many Nigerians is how far can the coalition go? Meanwhile, the ruling party had through its national leadership not only denied the existence of any faction in the party but had also threatened to take a legal action against members of the rAPC, describing them as non-genuine members of the party.
The party had through a press statement issued last week Thursday noted that while it respects ‘‘the right of everyone to join any association or group. However, we wish to reiterate that the so-called R-APC is not a faction of our party. Our party, the APC remains united under the leadership of our President, His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari.”
“It is also noteworthy that some political parties that have been named as signatories to the MoU have disassociated themselves from the publicised deal.

“We once again reiterate the commitment of our party to address real grievances of our genuine members. We call on them to take advantage of this opportunity while the windows for reconciliation are still open.
“We are confident that no level of gang-up can make our government under President Buhari waiver in its promises to Nigerians to rid our country of corruption and improve the quality of lives for our people,” APC said.
Also, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, has described the coalition as an act of opportunism. In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) he said the: “Remember, the reason for coming together is simply because they have lost the opportunities for sharing power.
“It is not because of anything which they can do which APC didn’t do. No, it is not because they have a different ideological position. “There is no fundamental difference between them and the APC; they are just an electoral gang to defeat the APC. I don’t think the coalition is enough,” he said.
On his part, Prof Moghalu of the Young Democratic Party said while it is legitimate in democratic setting to form a coalition, the country needs something new.

“We note the MoU signed by the PDP and about 30 other parties. It is a legitimate move in a democracy. But the real question remains: what does our country need now? We need a paradigm shift in governance. A regrouping of the booted out PDP and members of the failed APC will not achieve that. Things are falling apart and the centre cannot hold. “The shifting allegiances of the same old faces and the same old career politicians will mean the same old problems for Nigeria’’, he noted.
Like Prof. Moghalu had asserted, not a few Nigerians have described the coalition as gang of the same people looking for vehicles to actualise their selfish gains. Others said it is just a mere grand standing and smoking mirrors, adding that it is a poor imitation of what transpired in 2014 without knowing that circumstances and environment have changed.
No doubt the coalition is currently being marshal by some prominent and influential Nigerians, serving and retire politicians, businessmen with deep pockets and retired generals like former President Olusegun Obasanjo, former Military Head of States, Ibrahim Babaginda and a host of other who are doing the background work, the concern however is that majority of the political parties who are signatories to the marriage do not have political bases or even offices.
Already, barely 24 hours after the formation of the coalition, some parties on the list of the PDP led-entente have distanced themselves from the MoU. Some of the political parties which include People’s Democratic Movement (PDM) and Accord Part (AP) had alleged that they were fraudulently added to the list. Reports however have it that PDM and AP with 18 other political parties have formed a new coalition under the aegis of Coalition of Progressive Political Parties (CPPP) to join force with the ruling APC to return President Buhari in 2019.

The PDP led coalition has boasted to wrestle power back to from the ruling party in 2019, weighing to capitalise on the current security situation in some parts of the country but beyond this, analysts have wonder how a coalition of such number of political parties will make any difference from what had been witnessed in the past.
With less than a year to the general election, even with eyebrows raised from most quarters as to the characters that constitute the alliances, there is doubt in some quarters that there will be enough time to come to agreement on who will give up what for who both from the local government level to the national level as the parties prepare for 2019 and subsequent elections that will follow.
Just like every other party leaders had appealed to parties to agreement, Buba Galadima had agreed that the major challenged they would be confronted with is the ability to agree on common terms to produce flag bearers for the elections.
….’’if we talk together, if we are fair to ourselves and do things transparently and bring up one man or woman, we will provide future for our children and grandchildren. “This is not going to be a tea party, there are demands we will be facing. He (Buhari) is a military General, but we know him and you know that I know him.

‘‘So, this is a challenge to them and I assure you seated here that if we put our acts together, talk together, discuss together, the sky is our limit and success is ours”, Galadima had appealed to the parties presented at the venue.
The concern now is not only if CUPP has the political potential or resources to outstage a sitting government at the central, the concern however is that taken from history, coalition had never been successful in Nigeria. The AD, CPC, ANPP and nPDP in 2013 creamily metamorphosed into APC, even if the marriage looked promising from inception, analysts some factors that contributed mainly to the division in the party today would have been averted but the marriage among these parties was simply to take over political control of country, analysts have averred.
Three years after, experience have shown that the APC is a tea bag of conservative politicians who still want things done the old way and the progressive who believe in change in the system.
The NCNC and NPC had similar alliance in the 1960s and they could not sustain it just like the 1979 arrangement between NPN of Shehu Shagari and NPP of Nnamdi azikiwe but in 1981 it collapsed due to high breed corruption between members of the party.
While the APC has acknowledged the cracks within it and the leadership of the party under its new National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, is making frantic efforts to put the pieces in the party together, can the CUPP create an upset? This is a question to be answered in the months to come as Nigerians watch events with keen interest as they unfold.



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