PLANS to merge the campaigns of two of Nigeria’s leading presidential candidates have hit a rock after the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) declared that its flagbearer Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso would not step down for Peter Obi of the Labour Party.
In February next year, Nigeria goes to the polls to elect a new president, with the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) selecting former Lagos State governor Asiwaju Bola Tinubu as its candidate and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) going for former vice president Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. However, the Labour Party and the NNPP are two smaller parties that have emerged as contenders over recent weeks.
Former Anambra and Kano state governors Obi and Kwankwaso both left the PDP after realising they could not clinch its presidential ticket. They have since been selected to be the presidential candidates of the Labour Party and NNPP but over the last week, there has been a lot of talk about them merging.
Over the weekend, it was rumoured that Senator Kwankwaso would stand down as part of a deal that would see the two candidates merge their campaigns with Governor Obi as the presidential candidate. However, the NNPP has fiercely debunked this, saying that at no stage did Senator Kwankwaso stand down or agree to serve As Governor Obi’s running mate.
NNPP publicity secretary Dr Agbo Major, said: “The NNPP has never at any time said its esteemed presidential candidate, His Excellency, Dr Rabiu kwankwaso, could accept to be the Labour Party, Peter Obi’s deputy. The report is misleading and embarrassing to our great party, its presidential candidate, Kwankwaso and our millions of supporters in Nigeria and the diaspora.
“We urge journalists to crosscheck their reports before publishing them to avoid national disaffection ahead of the crucial 2023 general election. As a mass movement, the NNPP acknowledged alliance talks with Labour Party that would consolidate and boost the nation’s frail democracy as we collectively strive for a new Nigeria which the party champions.”
In a recent interview with the BBC Hausa Service, Senator Kwankwaso confirmed that talks were ongoing to ensure a successful merger between his party and the Labour Party. Although he did not suggest who would be the running mate between himself and Governor Obi, Senator Kwankwaso noted that the merger would be very crucial ahead of the 2023 general election.