Thirty-nine political parties met in Abuja on Monday where they signed a Memorandum of Understanding to field a single presidential candidate in 2019.
The parties also agreed to work together in all elections that would come up in 2019.
The MoU, signed by the Peoples Democratic Party, the Reformed-All Progressives Congress, Social democratic Party and 36 others, states that the “parties shall promote a positive reaction to the above failures of the present regime and to give hope to all our people.”
The MoU added, “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.
Alliance promises restructuring, zoning of political and elective offices
In the MoU, the alliance promised to restructure the country and embraced zoning of political and elective powers to ensure that all sections of the country were carried along in the scheme of things.
The MoU added, “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 among themselves to ensure that the cooperating parties under the grand alliance emerge victorious at the 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 federation.
“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”.
Among the political parties that signed the agreement are the Action Alliance, Alliance for Democracy, Africa Democratic Party, Action Democratic Party, All Grand Alliance Party, Action Peoples Party and Advanced Congress of Democrats.
Those who signed included Better Nigeria Progressive Party, Democratic Alternative, Democratic Peoples Party, Grand Democratic Party of Nigeria, Green Party of Nigeria, KOWA Party, Labour Party, Mass Action Joint Alliance, and Masses Movement of Nigeria .
Others are the National Conscience Party, New Generation Party, National Unity Party, Peoples Alliance for National Development and Liberty, Peoples Progressive Party, People for Democratic Change, Peoples Democratic Party, Providence People’s Congress, Restoration Party of Nigeria, Unity Party of Nigeria, All Grassroots Alliance, National Interest Party, Nigeria Democratic Congress Party, Progressive Peoples Alliance , and Young Democratic Party, among others.
The R-APC, which is a splinter group within the ruling party, APC led by Alhaji Buba Galadima, also signed the MoU.
Another pressure group known as the Nigeria Intervention Movement, equally appended its signature to the agreement.
All the chairmen of the concerned political parties signed the MoU.
Earlier in his opening address, a former Acting National Secretary of the PDP, Senator Ben Obi, said that concerned parties and associations chose to come together to salvage the nation and put an end to what he called nepotism and tribalism.
He said that President Muhammadu Buhari administration had left Nigerians more divided than they were in 2015, a trend he said must be corrected before it got worse.
He said, “We are here to begin a process that will lead to the formation of a government of national unity. We are here to put to an end the nepotism and corruption that the APC government has been known for in the past three years.
“They promised to tackle corruption, revamp the economy and address security challenges and restructure the nation but as soon as they were elected, they denied making such promises.
“We are here to put an end to dictatorial tendencies and this is a war between light and darkness and I can assure you that light would prevail. We are going to win and we will win.”
In his speech, the National Chairman of the R-APC, Alhaji Buba Galadima, said that the MoU would send shivers down the spine of the ruling party.
He said that since he led a splinter group out of the APC, the R-APC members had been receiving death threat messages and messages of solidarity from across the world.
Galadima said that President Buhari “is destined to lose the 2019 election and lose his deposit.”
The former ally to the President, who claimed that he knew Buhari so well, said that if the President knew what awaited him, it would have been better for him not to go into electoral contest as a candidate in 2019.
He said, “Let us not forget that the man we will be facing is a military general. We are ready, prepared to take on this fight despite their intimidation and threats.
“I know him but if I were his adviser, I would tell him not to contest.”
He warned that those who signed the alliance might become rich overnight if they chose to betray the cause, alleging that the ruling party had set aside a huge sum of money to bribe them.
He also said that members of the coalition would be harassed and intimidated, warning that Buhari, being a retired general, would not go down without a serious fight.
We’re committed to restructuring – Oyinlola
Also, a former governor of Osun State, who spoke on behalf of the ADC, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, described the coalition as “an assignment from God,” urging the parties to be committed to the letter and spirit of the MoU.
He said the agreement was the only solution to rescue the country, warning that if it failed, then the country and the citizens would regret it.
He said, “We are committed to the restructuring of this nation and we must respect the spirit and letter of this understanding.
“When Nigerians voted in 2015, they thought the APC vehicle would take them to the Promised Land. But three years after, the APC has failed and failed tragically too. We must not fail to rescue the nation and if we do, then the nation is finished.”
We’re ready for arrest, detention and death – Secondus
In his speech, the National Chairman of the PDP, said members of the opposition were ready to be arrested, intimidated and even killed.
He said that the Buhari regime had been carrying on as if it had cowed every Nigerian, warning that there was no way the regime would kill all the opposing views.
He berated the regime for its actions, adding that the government of Buhari was planning to either arrest or jail vocal members of the opposition before the 2019 general elections.
He said, “Just last week, the APC conquest regime came up with Executive Order which all political watchers including civil society groups liken 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 costs including cowing us down.
“But we cannot be cowed, if our heroes past had been cowed down 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.
“Our leaders were fearless and united and they rescued this country from draconian regimes in the past.
“By what we are doing today, fear has taken flight and the spirit of God has taken over, we must stand up to defend our people.
“I therefore call on all of us to be strong, steadfast and courageous. Let’s chase out the APC in our lives and form a national government that will bring succour to our people.”
APC govt, grossly incompetent, says Falae
Also, a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Minister of Finance, Chief Olu Falae, lamented what he referred to as the “gross incompetence” of the APC-led government.
He advised all parties to the alliance to support not only a sole presidential candidate, but sole governorship, senatorial as well as House of Representatives’ candidates across all states of the federation.
He said, “All our votes must go to the presidential candidate and to the governorship, senatorial and House of Representatives’ candidates in every state of the federation.
“It is not sufficient to produce the President alone because if we have a President who does not have majority of seats in parliament, there will be challenge as to what the President would be able to do.”
The Governor of Ekiti State, Mr. Ayo Fayose, who spoke to the gathering through the telephone, said he was happy that the process that would send “Buhari away ahead of his time has commenced.”
He said that the Federal Government was using security agencies to intimidate members of his party and supporters ahead of the Saturday governorship election in the state.
Joy beckons again, Ekweremadu assures Nigerians
The Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, also assured Nigerians that the coming together of various opposition political parties to sign the MoU would rescue Nigeria in 2019 and restore her to the path of democratic freedoms, joy, security, and development.
He said that the mammoth crowd outside the venue which had gathered to witness the birth of a new Nigeria, showed that Nigerians now saw hope again and urged the grand alliance not to disappoint the people.
He said, “For three years, what I see on the faces of Nigerians is frustration and anguish. But for the first time, I tell you that I saw joy. I saw people laughing and smiling for the first time in three years.
“Those our brothers and sisters, and investors, who left Nigeria in the last three years are also rejoicing with you because by this time next year, they will all be back.
“Those factories that were closed are going to come back alive by this time next year and Nigerians will rejoice.
“The people of the South-East whom the programmes and practices of this government are forcing to have a rethink on their membership of this country, today will rejoice and be happy that a new country that will be fair to all is coming; a country that they will be proud to be part of and continue to contribute to her development.
“All our people in the Internally Displaced Persons camps, who have been wondering or believing that they will spend the rest of their lives in the IDP camps are happy today because their stay there is almost over; because next year, we will enthrone a government that will take them to their homes and protect them there.
“The media houses, all the instruments and institutions of democracy that have been trampled and muzzled in this country, they will be free again to do their work without fear of intimidation.
“Those, who are being persecuted on account of their political views or insisting that the right thing should be done, are also going to rejoice because a new dawn is here. One of them is my brother, Senator Dino Melaye, who went through hell, but today, he is a free man.
“Also, remember that Nelson Mandela said that unless Nigeria earns the respect of the world, no one would respect Africa. So, various countries of Africa, who have looked up to Nigeria to provide leadership will have a good dinner in their houses today, happy that we are coming back again to retake our place as the foremost country in Africa and to provide leadership.”
Baraje, Melaye return
One of the highlights of the event was the formal return to the PDP of its former Acting National Chairman, Alhaji Kawu Baraje, and the lawmaker representing Kogi East in the Senate, Senator Dino Melaye.
While thanking the PDP for accepting him back into its fold, Baraje said a prodigal son, regardless of his sins, would always be received with joy upon repentance.
He said, “We went astray but we are back now. If a child burns one of his fingers, he quickly retreats the others. I will like to thank you for accepting to take us back.
“Senator David Mark warned me that we would return and I ignored him. Now we are back. I thank the PDP for accepting us back.”
Like Baraje, Melaye said he had the option to flow with the crowd but chose to return to the PDP to remain politically consistent, saying come 2019, “President Buhari will fail because he is entitled to failure.”
Dignitaries at the event were David Mark, the governors of Gombe and Akwa Ibom states, Ibrahim Dankwambo and Udoh Emmanuel, respectively.
Others were ex-Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, Dr. Baba-Ahmed Datti, Ibrahim Shekarau, Senator Liyel Imoke, Gbenga Daniel, Ibrahim Mantu, Tom Ikimi, Zainab Maina, and Chief Bode George.