2015: As ‘small’ parties prepare to field presidential candidates
Analyses on the 2015 presidential elections have centered around the two parties: the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC).
While focus is on the two, findings have shown that there are parties who have not given up on the bid to contest the presidential election despite not being given a chance in the court of public and are serious about wrestling power from the ruling party.
But for them to put up any good showing at the election, they are expected to either merge to form a strong force or go into an alliance for the purpose of the election.
Some of them are also expected to collapse into either the PDP or the APC for the purpose of the 2015 elections.
Some of the parties have indicated that they would prefer going into the elections on their own without either merging with the big parties or going into alliances for the presidential election.
Recently, there were speculations that the United Progressives Party (UPP) and Progressive Peoples’ Alliance (PPA), were in merger talks with the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). This stemmed from the fact that the founder of UPP, Chief Chekwas Okorie, is also the founder of APGA.
Being from the South Eastern part of the country with Chief Orji Uzor Kalu who is the founder of the PPA, many believe in the speculated merger plan but the national chairmen of the UPP and PPA told our correspondent in their separate reactions that the parties have no merger plans but are working assiduously to go into the elections independently.
National chairman of the United Progressive Party (UPP), Chief Chekwas Okorie has revealed that the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party has approved the zoning of its presidential ticket to South East geo-political zone.
“All aspirants from the South East geo-political zone wishing to contest for the office of the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria at the 2015 presidential election are enjoined to do so, on the platform of our great party, the UPP,” he said.
He said that the party would put all machinery in motion for effective participation and contest of the election, stressing that an Igbo man would fly a presidential flag and contest powerfully on the platform of the party.
Another political party that is warming up to contest the election without merging is the Social Democratic Party (SDP). Former presidential aspirant and national chairman of the party, Chief Olu Falae, revealed at the unveiling of the party’s logo, manifesto and constitution recently at the party’s national secretariat, Abuja, that the party would field candidates for all the elective positions in 2015 including a presidential candidate.
Chief Falae however, declined comments as to which geo-political zone the presidential ticket would be zoned to but insisted the party was committed to doing the right thing and as such, would nominate its presidential candidate at the appropriate time.
He accused the PDP and APC of corrupt tendencies, stressing that his party has in stock a manifesto that would be used to eradicate corruption, poverty, unemployment, terrorism and improve the socio-economic base of Nigeria and its citizens.
The PPA is also organizing itself to contest all the available positions in the elections. National chairman of the party, Peter Ameh, told our correspondent that the party is also going to field a presidential candidate.
Ameh said the party was holding the National Working Committee (NWC) meeting to be able to resolve issues relating to the presidential ticket. He stated that the party would soon decide whether to zone its presidential ticket to a particular geo-political zone or leave it open for any eligible member to contest.
He stated that the party would bring together its stakeholders in charting the way forward for its success at the polls adding that there would be PPA national summit to further iron out issues of development.
The National Conscience Party (NCP) has also established clearly its readiness to field a presidential candidate in 2015. National chairman of the party, Dr. Yunusa Tanko, told our correspondent in a telephone interview that the party’s presidential candidate is expected to come from the youth.
“NCP is working very hard to field a presidential candidate in the 2015 election. We are fielding our candidates all through. We are measuring on the youth as our catchment area. NCP is providing a platform for Nigerian youths because the old people have failed Nigerians,” he said.
He however, noted that the party would not zone its presidential ticket to any geo-political zone but work towards fielding a credible and experienced young man with tract records of education and political pedigree in order to provide the necessary leadership that Nigerians deserve.
A press statement signed by the factional national chairman of APGA, Maxi Okwu recently, had already indicated that APGA would lead a third force in the 2015 elections after the PDP and the APC, but our correspondent learnt that because of the leadership tussle between Chief Victor Umeh and Chief Maxi Okwu, the party is still undecided as to how some of its candidates including the presidential candidate would emerge.
However, Maxi Okwu’s faction recently at a press conference told journalists that the party was in full support of President Jonathan’s re-election bid and later in another press briefing stated that the party’s leadership crisis would soon be resolved to enable it face the 2015 elections.
For the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM), the media adviser to the national chairman, Abubakar Rufai told our correspondent in a telephone interview that the party was undecided on whether to field a presidential candidate in the election. Investigations by our reporter revealed that the party may not field a presidential candidate but work towards winning other seats in the elections if it is not convinced by former Vice President Atiku Abubakar to move to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The party recently carried out membership registration nationwide despite the threats by some aggrieved members of PDM to deregister the party on grounds that they were not adequately consulted before registration of PDM as a political party and that the Musa Yar’adua’s PDM was not conceived to transform into a political party but to remain a pressure group in the PDP.
Advanced Congress of Democrats (ACD) according to its national chairman, Yusuf Buba Yakub is also warming up for the elections insisting that change is what Nigeria needs in 2015.
“If you have been following the trend, we contested the Anambra governorship election on November 16, 2013, we contested the Senate by-election in Delta State and we have been participating in the elections that have been going on in Nigeria. So change is imminent in 2015,” he said.
Labour Party is also strategizing to present candidates for all the available positions in the elections. The party has recently certified Rep Opeyemi Bamidele as its candidate for the June 21, 2014 governorship election in Ekiti State after thorough screening in line with its constitution.
Most of the small parties have in the past produced governors, Senators, House of Representatives members, local government chairmen among others but had lost them to bigger parties. For example, the PPA lost two governors to the PDP in the past following what Peter Ameh described as “their unfaithfulness to the party.” This is an indication that some of these parties could still emerge strongly and play a significant role in the 2015 elections.
Coordinator of the Coalition of Democrats for Electoral Reforms (CODER), Mr. Ayo Opadokun, recently said it is still too early to reflect on what the smaller parties can do in 2015, explaining that the political landscape is still evolving and re-adjusting to reality. He said: “The year 2015 will open its space to accommodate the minor parties and we will all see the role they will play.”
However, our correspondent gathered that the major challenge likely to derail some of the ‘diminutive’ parties in the election is lack of finance which has always been their problem. Some of them do not have governors or senators to help in one way or the other in financing their activities and are likely to be thwarted in the battle.
Dr. Yunusa Tanko
Chief Chekwas Okorie