Former Head of State and three time Presidential candidate, Maj.-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has said the ongoing merger talks by the major opposition political parties will determine if he will run for president in 2015.
Buhari said this in Abuja on Wednesday while fielding questions from reporters after inaugurating the Congress for Progressive Change Merger Committee.
The 18-member committee is saddled with the responsibility of having talks with the Action Congress of Nigeria on the proposed merger.
He explained that the CPC would first conclude discussions with the ACN after which talks would be initiated with the All Nigeria Peoples Party.
“We have written priority (with ACN) and we are going to go into discussion with ACN before we move to the other party,” the former Head of State told the journalists.
Buhari, however, assured, “It is not impossible that the new party is presented to the people of Nigeria by the middle of this year.”
The Katsina State-born general, who acknowledged the fact that he had said he would not run for the office of the President again, having failed to win the election three times, said he would wait for the outcome of the merger talks before giving a definite answer.
He said, “For the umpteenth time, I said it (that I won’t run again), it is on record that I would not present myself again for election.
“But after that, I have said so many times that members of my party and groups went and said that I don’t belong to myself and that I belong to them. They also said they belong to me.
“I asked them to go and organise the party and if you approach me I may consider it. This is the stage we are.
“I mentioned it several times and I’m waiting on my party and if we have a merger, it will make things much easier for me. The new party will then decide whether it will offer me its ticket and it is up to me to consider accepting it or rejecting it.”
While inaugurating the committee, which has a former Deputy Governor of Bauchi State, Alhaji Garba Gadi, as its chairman, Buhari said personal interest should not stand in the way of a great opportunity to build a better Nigeria.
This, he said, would happen once the CPC, ACN and ANPP came together as one party.
He said, “The issue before you now and as you go into your negotiations is fundamentally one – that you will negotiate the best deal for Nigeria.
“It is essentially a matter of give-and-take. There is nothing sacrosanct about any of the issues you will be called to thrash out, but of course, there is a bottom line, the outlines of which have been given in the committee’s terms of reference.
“Your task is national. Petty personal interest should not stand in the way of a great opportunity to build and run a better Nigeria, which will happen once CPC, ACN and ANPP come together.”
Buhari told the committee not to take the negotiations as a battle, saying it was a friendly game with fellow brothers who he said, desire the nation for what people like him also desire for the country.
He said the country was at a crossroads, stumbling from one disaster to another “simply because its leaders lack purpose.”
The former Head of State regretted that the opposition had also not been able to get its act together because its leaders had refused to unite.
“In Nigeria today, therefore, unity – unity of people, unity of political parties, and unity of the opposition is no longer an option. It has become a national imperative,” he added.
Buhari said it was a great joy to know that the leaders of the two parties were eager to merge, adding that the sentiment in the country was for full merger and not alliance or electoral understanding or anything of sorts.
According to him, “What Nigerians want is merger and that is what you are going to negotiate and bring home to them.”
He said the work of the committee would be simple because there was already in existence, an unexecuted understanding between the CPC and ACN for the creation of a new party, with a brand new logo and a new flag already designed and all other paraphernalia of a political party put in place.
All these, according to him, should be dusted off and built upon to avoid time wasting.
The committee, he said, should be able to finish its job in six weeks before the two parties would now constitutionally seal the merger in another six weeks.
Buhari said the new party should actively support the restructuring of the country, adding its 36-state structure was not working.