A series of high-level meetings, beginning from Wednesday, April 25, 2018, is taking place across the country, as politicians and other stakeholders fine-tune talks on forming a formidable opposition against the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.
This is notwithstanding some obstacles said to be threatening the coalition under works because of the conditions being put forward by some kingmakers to become part of the overall game plan.
One of such demands is the wish of such power brokers to determine who should lead the opposition as national chairman.
Such condition was said to have rankled the ranks of some party faithful, especially in the Social Democratic Party (SDP), who were said to have become extra-cautious as they stepped up moves to broaden the base of the party across the country.
Chieftains of the party have so far led powerful delegations to former President Olusegun Obasanjo and ex-military President, General Ibarahim Babangida, ostensibly to seek their support, having passed a vote of no confidence in the President Muhammadu Buhari, weeks before he announced his reelection bid.
The schism in the camps of the pro-coalition forces came as the leaders of ethnic nationalities from the three zones in the South-West; South-South, South-East and the North-Central zone were busy at the weekend trying to finalise arrangements for a joint meeting in Abuja on the ongoing efforts to present a common front on fundamental issues ahead the elections.
According to sources, “the meeting coming up on Wednesday in Abuja is part of ongoing efforts by all the zones to further strengthen our collaboration and cooperation before the elections.”
Two major stakeholders informed Sunday Tribune that the leaders would work out strategies to make the demand for restructuring and devolution of powers the cornerstone of the elections.
Leaders of the representatives of the pan-Yoruba organisisation, Afenifere, Middle Belt Forum, Ohanaeze Ndigbo; South-South Forum, Ijaw National council among other mass-based bodies are among personalities expected at the meeting, one of the leaders said.
The parley will be preceded by a crucial meeting of leaders of Afenifere from the South-West, as well as Kwara, Kogi and other parts of the country, to be held in Akure, the Ondo State capital on Tuesday.
Similarly, the national leaders of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) are to meet in Abuja on Thursday, to receive reports on its ongoing consultations and discussions with influential politicians towards strengthening the SDP.
But there was schism over the purported romance of the party with former President Obasanjo for a working relationship.
His insistence on leadership change in the SDP was said not to have gone down well with main gladiators in the party.
Obasanjo, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Falae, who was the joint standard-bearer of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) and the All Peoples Party (APP), slugged it out during the 1999 presidential election.
The former was declared the winner of the poll.
However, the SDP leaders were reportedly not favourably disposed to Obasanjo’s demand for a new leadership. Another party leader told Sunday Tribune that the SDP was neither disposed to any form of alliance nor a merger to form a new party because of the proximity of the series of elections that will culminate in the general election in 2019.
Coupled with that reason is what the party source noted was the fact such alliance had never worked in the history of the country.
“The condition he gave was that we should drop Falae as chairman. But, we insisted that he is the man we want as national chairman. It was a mere courtesy visit.
On the presidential race, the leaders said the SDP did not have any particular politician in mind so far, stressing that the leaders were being cautious in their interactions with Obasanjo so that they did not play into his hands, though “a lot of his political associates and members of his coalition have, on their own, opened discussion with the SDP.”