Obi and Kwankwaso are former governors of Anambra and Kano State respectively. Both of them served their states for eight years and they command some decent following in their regions.
While Obi, the presidential candidate of the LP is a prominent political name in the South-East, the followers of Kwankwaso, the presidential candidate of the NNPP spread beyond Kano, his base, to other North-West states.
But as far as Nigerian politics is concerned, both the LP and the NNPP are fringe parties with no political structure and financial muscle to wrestle power from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The PDP established in 1998, had ruled the country for 16 years before the APC formed in 2014 unseated Goodluck Jonathan’s PDP government in 2015.
The PDP and the APC are the main political parties with political presence everywhere in the country, and to defeat or relegate them, there is a need for two or more strong parties to collapse their visible structures into one formidable party to fight the political hegemony of the mega parties.
It is against this background that a merger is being considered between the Labour Party and the New Nigerian Peoples Party.
For many Nigerians, it is a piece of good news that the LP and the NNPP are coming together to challenge the dominance of the two parties that have disappointed the people. But to be very honest, it does not look like the proposed merger, if it eventually happens will threaten the stability of the PDP and the APC.
It is understandable that Nigerians’ hope for the 2023 elections is high, but if you find this piece pessimistic, read on to see reasons why the mission of two fringe parties to take power from the clutch of the mega parties is a pipe dream.
In 2014, it took five political parties from different regions to join hands with a faction of the PDP to defeat the ruling party at the time.
Let it be remembered that the fall of the PDP from the federal seat was orchestrated by the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) led by Bola Tinubu, the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) led by Muhammadu Buhari, the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), a faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and a faction of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
That PDP faction, it should be recalled, was not a group of political nonentities.
It was a faction that had the former Vice President, Abubakar Atiku, a serving Senator, Bukola Saraki, and five state governors — including this Kwankwaso — in its fold.
These politicians moved their national and states’ political structures to support the APC to bring down the PDP administration after 16 years in power.
So, the LP and the NNPP coming together to roll their scanty structures (If there’s any) may not constitute a threat to Obi and Kwankwaso’s common enemies.
Again, the ubiquitous presence of the PDP and the APC across the country is an advantage for them. The two parties have secretariats in every state, members in every local government, and agents in every ward across the country.
Even in the most rural communities, where there are no schools, banks, hospitals, and the internet, there are people, eligible voters who recognise the APC and the PDP as the only political parties in the country.
It’s interesting that the youths are canvassing for a third force, but frankly, the resurgence of the LP and the NNPP will amount to zero political value if their merger cannot triplicate their presence across the country and penetrate these hinterlands in three months. Remember the 2023 election is only eight months away.
From the foregoing analysis, if you agree that as things stand, the LP and the NNPP do not have what it takes to challenge the PDP and the APC, then let’s check what Obi and Kwankwaso have in their political armoury to deliver Nigerians from the ruling party in 2023.
Obi’s presidential campaign has been very loud on Twitter, louder than the political party he is going to represent in the forthcoming election, but sadly, the deafening cacophony of Obi’s campaigns on social media is not loud enough to penetrate rural communities.
Apart from this, Obi’ party has no stronghold in any of the six regions. It is absolutely delusional to rigidly believe that a party with no representative in the corridor of power in any state would rise from its years of slumber and beat the ones that have eyes, ears and legs everywhere.
The same argument applies to Kwankwaso, whose popularity is limited to Kano and two or three states in the North-West. Of course, that popularity isn’t all he and his party need to give the ruling party a run for its money in the region.
What level of political influence do Kwankwaso and Obi wield in Kano and Anambra? Who are their political allies in the southern and the northern regions? Which politician currently in the national assembly looks up to them as political mentors? These are yardsticks with which political heavyweights are measured.
But if you have to scratch your head to find answers to the questions above, then you should know that the proposed merger is only an empty alliance for a political outing that will have no significant impact on the 2023 elections.
However, the proposed political marriage may have a remarkable performance if only the APC and the PDP implode and join the merger, but if the status quo remains till the Independent Electoral Commission puts a stop to campaigns, the merger will carry no weight.
Meanwhile, the argument about who would be the standard-bearer between Obi and Kwankwaso has been laid to rest, at least for now.
The National Publicity Secretary of the New Nigerian Peoples Party (NNPP), Dr. Agbo Major, has said that Kwankwaso might consider to be Obi’s running mate.
Kwankwaso has not said anything about this, but if the proposed merger fails to happen, issues about who would be the flag bearer of the party between the two of them would partly be responsible for its death.
Finally, the perceived political might of Kwankwaso and Obi is too concentrated in their political bases to stand in the way of the APC and the PDP. The merger needs more political heavyweights to support the LP/NNPP agenda to succeed. Still, that success is obviously not going to be recorded in 2023.