Nigeria’s opposition merges in bid to unseat ruling party

Updated 07 February 2013
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Nigeria’s opposition merges in bid to unseat ruling party

ABUJA: Nigeria’s four main opposition parties have announced a merger, forming a coalition which could pose the biggest threat to President Goodluck Jonathan’s ruling party since the end of military rule in 1999.
Previous attempts at opposition alliances have fallen apart due to infighting and regional differences. The president’s party is likely to now target any weaknesses in the merger.
If the newly created party holds together it will be sternly tested when trying to agree on a presidential candidate for the 2015 election.
“At no time in our national life has radical change become more urgent,” said a statement signed on Wednesday by representatives of the four parties.
“We, the following progressive political parties, namely ACN, ANPP, APGA and CPC, have resolved to merge forthwith and become the All Progressive Congress and offer to our beleaguered people a recipe for peace and prosperity.”
The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has won every presidential election since a return to civilian rule 14 years ago. It controls around two-thirds of the states and has a healthy majority in both houses of the national assembly.
The four merging parties control almost all the remaining seats and marginally reduced the PDP’s majority in both the states and parliament in elections in 2011.
“All the main opposition leaders have for some time backed the concept of a merger; the challenge will be to translate such common purpose from principle to practice,” said Nigeria analyst Antony Goldman, head of Africa-focused PM Consulting.
“Policy and ideology do not feature prominently in a political discourse in Nigeria that is principally about winning or losing — and personal rivalries,” Goldman said.
The PDP gave a confident response to the announcement.
“Beautiful. The more the merrier,” the party’s national chairman Bamanga Tukur told reporters.
“They are not a threat at all ... PDP is Messi in that contest,” likening his party to the all-conquering Argentina and Barcelona soccer player Lionel Messi.
Tightly fought elections in Africa’s biggest oil producer can often stoke violence. Hundreds were killed in riots in the mostly Muslim north when Christian southerner Jonathan won the presidential vote two years ago.
The merger, two years before the vote, will turn politician’s attention to elections and away from vital reforms needed to support Africa’s second largest economy.
It also mounts pressure on Jonathan to rally support from within his party and outside if he is to win re-election.
It is yet to be seen if every state governor and lawmaker supports the merger. Official changes of party will have to be agreed with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). The INEC spokesman did not respond to calls for comment.


Pakistan eliminated terrorism with monumental cost — Defense Minister

Updated 26 April 2018
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Pakistan eliminated terrorism with monumental cost — Defense Minister

  • Beijing hosted the first SCO Defense Ministers meeting after the organization was expanded in 2017 and added India and Pakistan as full members
  • He said that presence of Daesh in Afghanistan is a source of insecurity for its neighbors

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Minister for Defense Khurram Dastgir Khan said that Pakistan has eliminated terrorism from its soil at a monumental cost — in the in blood of soldiers and citizens.
The minister made his remarks at the 15th Defense Ministers Meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Beijing.
He added that Pakistan had adopted a comprehensive national action plan to combat terrorism: “We have suffered economic losses in excess of US $120 billion (Rs 13,920 billion) in our war against terror,” he added.
It was the first assembly of SCO Defense Ministers since the organization expanded in 2017, adding India and Pakistan as full members.

Khan said the continuing turmoil in Afghanistan, including presence of ISIS (Daesh), was a source of insecurity for its neighbors and the entire region.

“Serious challenges facing the region include violent extremism, poverty, lack of trans-boundary water management, drug trafficking, refugees, human trafficking and border controls,” the minister said.

Khan acknowledged the existence of bilateral issues between SCO members, but asserted that these should “never be allowed to impede our collective work.” He encouraged his counterparts to face collective challenges with “courage, harmony and cooperation.”

The minister signed a communiqué with other participants offering support for the “Shanghai Spirit” of building a shared community with peace and stability, development and prosperity.

Defense ministers from the SCO member states including China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and India attended the meeting. The defense minister of Belarus attended as an observer.