This article is part of our #FirstWord series to provide context on trending news.
In scenes reminiscent of 2014 when the then opposition party, Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) merged with the new Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP), Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), and a faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) to form the All Progressives Congress (APC), another grand alliance has been created ahead of the 2019 elections.
This alliance, named the Coalition of United Political Party (CUPP), was the result of deliberations between the PDP, the Reformed-APC faction of mostly former nPDP members, as well as 36 other political parties that include the Obasanjo-backed Movement for Nigeria which adopted the African Democratic Congress as it's party. The group signed a memorandum of understanding in which they pledged to work together to unseat the Buhari-led APC government.
The Fine Print
Technically, this is an alliance and not a new political party.
Each political party will retain its unique slogan, emblem, logo, and identity. What they have signed is an agreement to work together to defeat the ruling party. The major decision, however, is their agreement to field consensus candidates at the state and local government levels, as well as a single presidential candidate in 2019. This would reduce vote-splitting and give PDP candidates like former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar a better chance of winning.
The Numbers Game
The states that make up the R-APC group are unclear according to various news reports. However, certain states that were instrumental to the APC wave in 2015 such as Sokoto, Kwara, Gombe, Kogi, Nasarawa and Plateau are among those that have repeatedly been mentioned as moving to the PDP.
The immediate consequence of such an action remains the control of the Senate and House of Representatives. Many leaders of the alliance are confident of the upcoming mass defections in both chambers of the National Assembly. While the PDP (125 reps) has to gain over a 100 representatives to take control of the House from the APC (225 reps), the Senate is much closer. The APC has 60 Senators to the PDP's 49, and if all the Senators from the states mentioned earlier, then control of the chamber could change hands. It is similar to 2014 when then-Speaker Aminu Tambuwal retained control of the House since he and many PDP members moved to the APC and still maintained the majority. Perhaps tellingly, both Speaker Yakubu Dogara and Senate President Bukola Saraki have often been mentioned as members of the R-APC group.
The Big Picture
The real question is how will this affect 2019 elections.
APC had the herculean task of uniting different ambitions and parties, a task it performed quite credibly and led to Buhari winning the primary and then defeating President Jonathan in the general elections. The CUPP will deal with not just confirmed PDP candidates like Atiku, Shekarau, Fayose and Makarfi, but also rumoured candidates that might be joining such as Senate President Saraki, Governor Tambuwal and Senator Kwankwaso. It will also have to allocate states and structures ahead of the 2019 campaign.
For the APC's part, they have stated their hesitation to respond without seeing the details of the memorandum signed. Initial indications are that the party will sue for trademark violation. While officials are confident of retaining members and surviving the latest challenge to their party, the situation seems more of a problem for the recently inaugurated Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee of the APC. What remains to be seen is if Nigerians will decide to stick with the party they supported in the last election, or go with yet another mega opposition alliance with the sole aim of electoral victory.
We know the choice Nigerians made between the PDP and the new APC Will lightning strike twice?