President Buhari talked about some ‘behind the scene’ incidents that led to the defeat of the People’s Democratic Party in the 2015 election, in a book written by the Director-General of Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) Comrade Salihu Mohammed Lukman.
Buhari revealed that only the Southwest was a secured constituency when the merger talks between four parties; Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) was initiated. He also admitted that the merger became neccesary when it dawned on opposition parties that they can’t defeat the PDP individually.
“At one point, we in the four former opposition parties, the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), and All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), came to the painful realisation that there was no way we could defeat the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as separate entities without coming together as a united force.
“So, having agreed to come together, we decided to set up committees to look into how we can best merge to form a formidable opposition party. After that each of the four parties developed the terms of reference for the committees on the modalities of the negotiations for the merger.
“We, however, made it clear that none of the committees has the power to take any final decision on the merger. Their work was mainly to discuss with their party members and report the outcome of the discussion to the leadership of their parties.
“The understanding was that the final decision regarding how to go about the merger would be made by the executives of each of the parties. We wanted to make the process as democratic as possible” he said.
The President, however, noted that Nigeria would have been worse if the merger talks between the National Leader of APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and the Interim (pioneer) National Chairman of the new party, Chief Bisi Akande had failed.
“The decision to come together and agree to merge to become a strong opposition party that will face PDP was historic. In my reckoning, it was one of the most significant political development in contemporary Nigerian political history. I hope historians will record the events correctly,” he stressed.
“I would recall speaking to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and Chief Bisi Akande at the commencement of the merger negotiations about the need to have a broad-based national political party, because at that point the South-West geopolitical zone of the country was the only secured constituency, while there were sharp divisions in the other geopolitical zones (North West, North East, North Central, the South East and the South South).
“We eventually succeeded in coming together. It was a major sacrifice made by the leadership of the respective political parties. And the significance of this event was underscored by the fact that the future of Nigeria was tied to it. Which is why for historians and political scientists, it becomes a major research question.
“I always wonder what would have been the political, economic and security consequences to the country without the merger of the old opposition parties and seizing political power from the ruling PDP democratically.
“I wonder how many people have taken the time to reflect on this development and make projections as to what could have happened if the opposition had failed to come together to take away power from PDP.”
Also reacting to the criticism he has faced over his performance in office, President Buhari insisted that his government prevented the nation’s downward slide under PDP government.
“I have been constrained to go public several times to remind Nigerians where this country was economically and socially and the deplorable conditions of the nation’s infrastructure, despite the unprecedented huge earnings from oil exports between I999-20l4, and how the then ruling PDP squandered nation’s resources and opportunities.
“Fortunately, we have been able to reverse this downward slide in such a short period of time, even under more challenging circumstances from 20I5 to date.
“I feel that without coming together, we would not have been able to achieve this feat. And Nigeria will be the worse for it. We remain the only hope of the country in terms of charting a politically stable and economically prosperous future for our people.
“I will, therefore, encourage us to continue leading this country effectively, now that Nigerians have entrusted us with a mandate once again to chart the course for the future of our beloved nation.
“There is no doubt that we have the popular support of Nigerians. l have seen this myself when I went around the 36 states and FCT during the electioneering campaigns. The turnout of people and messages of goodwill across the country was what no individual, party or government could organize or buy. It was purely a demonstration of confidence in our Administration and its political platform, the All Progressives’ Congress (APC), the product of the merger.
“The multitudes that trooped out to see me and hear me out was reassuring that Nigeria, despite its cultural diversities, are united on the imperative of change.
“Our duty as leaders is to ensure that we keep this nation united, build a better future for the citizens and the coming generation” he said.