BY MAHMOON BABA AHMED
The recent grouping of 11 ‘progressive governors’ cutting across leading opposition political parties to form a united front —the All Progressive Alliance APC– against the governing party, is not a novelty in Nigeria’s politics. In the First Republic, a grand alliance, the United Progressive Grand Alliance, UPGA, was formed between some regional and tribal political parties, ostensibly to fan embers of political intolerance, but it did not succeed in impeding the victory of another similar alliance, the Nigeria National Alliance, NNA in the 1964 federal elections. Similarly, in the Second Republic, nine ‘progressive governors’ and later 12, united in a failed attempt to wrest power from the ruling National Party of Nigeria NPN. While the alliance in 1964 crystallised into an absolute political party, that of the second republic only developed into full pledged alignment of like-minded groups.
Incidently, the same performance is now being encored in response to demands from similar elements that forged the previous pacts. Two political parties, the Action Congress of Nigeria ACN, and the Cogress for Progressive Change CPC, from very different backgrounds, have been toying with the idea of forming a formidable coalition that will defeat what they called the weak, inefficient and visionless PDP government and, in its stead, install a purposeful and responsive government that will redress all the adversities that pester and encumber the country’s progress. As the committees set up by the two parties were struggling to actualise their mandates, ten state governors, along with 4 ex-governors of another political party, the All Nigeria Progressive Party ANPP, which was hitherto not keen in participating in the merger talks, suddenly found reason to participate. And since then things had never been the same with the two parties that originally threw up the merger idea.
The Unity Party of Nigeria UPN, a south-western based political party, with five governors, provided the skeletal framework for the partnership in the Second Republic, while governors from two northern based parties: Peoples Redemption Party PRP; the Great Nigeria Peoples Party GNPP, and the Ibo-dominated Nigeria Peoples Party NPP, beefed it up. That was exctly what happened in the formation of the APC spearheaded by the ACN. It can therefore be seen that both APC and the defunct UPN were exclusively governors’ affairs organised by remote, emotive and manupulative politicians.
While the blending of Second Republic governors was only to provide a platform for staunch opposition, the convergence of the present crop of antagonistic governors and their cohorts had matured into a fledgling political party with similar characters of diverse backgroud and conflicting principles.