Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

More on party politics in Nigeria

The Economist covers the story about merging parties in Nigeria. The joke in the last paragraph suggests that some people don't think it will matter.

Clubbing together: A newly united opposition presents the first credible threat to Nigeria’s ruling party
[O]pposition leaders announced the merger of four sizeable parties with the aim of defeating the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) of President Goodluck Jonathan, who may be planning to seek another term in office two years from now. The PDP has held power since the end of military rule 14 years ago yet repeatedly failed to honour its promises of curbing corruption and spreading the nation’s oil wealth.

The merger is the most committed effort to date by the opposition to form a united front. In theory, power is within reach. The PDP frequently loses state elections, but has been able to hold on to the presidency because it alone has a nationwide network of candidates and activists…

Previous attempts by opposition parties to work together have been undone by the competing ambitions of their leaders. Countless talks have been held over the years but until now they always broke down. Yet after the most recent election even the most selfish oppositionists came to realise they cannot win power without making compromises…

[The merged party] will be known as the All Progressive Congress (APC). “It is a credible threat. If you can get two of the largest opposition parties together, it could be a meaningful challenge to power,” says Clement Nwankwo, an analyst at the Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre in Abuja, the capital.

Egos will make or break the umbrella party. It has yet to agree on a candidate for the presidency… But if the merged party stays intact and manages to combine the ACN’s southern base and the CPC’s northern base, it could present the ruling party with its biggest ever challenge…

Many Nigerians say they are yearning for change. “We are tired of the PDP. They are trash,” says Job Soloman, a market-stall owner in Abuja. “If the APC get their act together and give us a good candidate, people will vote to kick PDP out.”…

A new joke making the rounds in the capital says that, since the main opposition groups are merging, the PDP will form an alliance with the police and the army. Security services are operating in all but one of the country’s 36 states. Intimidation has been on the rise in recent elections, and in several cases, the men in uniform have menaced voters rather than protected them.
See also: Party Realignment in Nigeria

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