2019 Elections: SDP Emerges As Third Force

A grand political movement called New Political Order, comprising leading politicians and elder statesmen, has adopted the existing Social Democratic Party (SDP) as Third Force to be used in challenging main political parties in the 2019 general election, Tribune Online can reveal.

Leading lights in the coalition include stalwarts of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), from the six geopolitical zones of the country.

Barring any last-minute change, the new group will be officially unveiled in Abuja, the federal capital, at a crucial meeting by the major stakeholders, who include members of the National Assembly from both the PDP and the APC.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo had muted the idea of a Third Force after denouncing both the APC and the PDP when he announced the birth of the Coalition for New Nigeria, just as he advised President Muhammadu Buhari, to bury any notion of seeking a fresh mandate in 2019.

The New Political Order, which is reportedly led by a former minister and PDP stalwart, Professor Jerry Gana, enjoys the full backing of mass-based organisations, including Afenifere, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Middle Belt Forum and the South-South Assembly under the leadership of First Republic Minister of Information, Chief Edwin Clark.

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Chieftains of the organisations were among other eminent persons, including serving senators from the Northern part of the country that attended at a major meeting held on February 12 in the federal capital.

Other major stakeholders in the coalition include some key members of the PDP Board of Trustees BOT; former Minister of Education; former deputy Senate President, Senator Ibrahim Mantu, and prominent Senators from the South-South, all of PDP extraction.

Also on the roll call of the coalition are the leaders of the Nigerian Intervention Movement (NIM) such as Dr Jhalil Tafawa Balewa and Dr Olu Agunloye, as well as civil society organisations like the Civil Liberties Organisations (CLO).

Insiders told our correspondent that top on the agenda of a meeting of the key promoters in Abuja today is the formal ratification and unveiling of the SDP as the platform to field candidates in next year’s elections.

Investigations, however, showed that the decision to adopt the SDP did not come easy, as the leaders had to critically assess most of the 68 political parties excluding the APC and the PDP before arriving at a preferred choice.

Some of the parties that came under serious scrutiny included the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA); Advanced Democratic Party (ADP), Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), Rebuild Nigeria Party (RNP) and the Labour Party.

The sources said 10 delegates from each of the 36 states in the country, as well as members of civil society and youth groups, would attend the meeting taking place at Ladi KWALI Hall, Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Abuja.

According to the promoters, the leaders will use the meeting to ratify the choice of SDP, which was arrived at after a painstaking consideration of a number of other existing parties outside the APC and the PDP.

It was gathered that the arrowheads of the rainbow coalition, had put finishing touches to its unveiling at two successive meetings, held in Abuja last week.

The meetings were preceded by wide consultations and meetings in different parts across major cities in the geopolitical zones during which the key promoters harmonise their positions on major issues.

The sources said that after an exhaustive debate, representatives of five out of the six geopolitical zones in the country picked SDP, as only the North-Central was reportedly split between SDP and RNP.

The representative of Benue State, Col (Dr) Joseph Akaagerger (Rtd) in the ad-hoc committee was said to have clearly preferred the RNP based on the mandate of the people of Benue State.

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