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Nigeria’s Four Biggest Opposition Parties Agree to Merge

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Feb. 7 (Bloomberg) -- Nigeria’s four biggest opposition political parties are merging to contest the 2015 elections against President Goodluck Jonathan’s People’s Democratic Party.

The parties “have resolved to merge forthwith and become the All Progressives Congress and offer to our beleaguered people a recipe for peace and prosperity,” according to a statement handed to reporters today. “At no time in our national life has radical change become more urgent.”

The two biggest parties in the merger are the Action Congress of Nigeria, whose governors control most of the country’s southwestern states including Lagos, the commercial capital, and the Congress for Progressive Change, led by the north’s biggest opposition figure, former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari.

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous state and biggest oil producer, is almost evenly divided between a mainly Muslim north and a largely Christian south. Buhari lost to Jonathan in the 2011 presidential election, garnering the most northern votes. Jonathan is the third PDP president since 1999, when more than 15 years of military rule started by Buhari ended.

While previous attempts by Nigerian opposition parties to form coalitions have failed, “I get the sense that there is a serious push toward a united big political party and I think that the merger will happen,” said Clement Nwankwo, executive director of the Abuja-based Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre.

The alliance also includes the northern All Nigeria People’s Party and the All Progressive Grand Alliance, based in the country’s southeast. At least 10 governors from four opposition parties met on Feb. 5 to back the alliance.

“We are extremely concerned about the state of the nation and we put our heads together in the interest of our people to deliberate on what can be done to rescue our country,” the governors said in a statement e-mailed by the office of Lagos state Governor Babatunde Fashola.

To contact the reporter on this story: Maram Mazen in Abuja at mmazen@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nasreen Seria at nseria@bloomberg.net

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