Chairman, BOT, NNPP, Dr. Boniface Aniebonam (in white) flanked by some officials of the party during the media conference in Lagos, Friday.

Founder and Chairman, Board of Trustees BOT of the New Nigerian Peoples Party NPP, Dr Boniface Aniebonam has said that the party is not an opposition in the Nigerian context, rather a responsible partner in the Nigerian project towards the common good of the country and its citizens.

Recall that the presidential candidate of the party, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso came 4th in the last presidential election held February 25, 2023, trailing behind Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress APC, who won the election and had been sworn in on May 29, 2023, Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party PDP, and Peter Obi of the Labour Party LP, both of who are currently challenging the outcome of the election at the Tribunal.

Aniebonam, who addressed a media conference in Lagos, Friday, said the NNPP would not like to be identified as an opposition party in the Nigerian context in which every action or policy of the sitting government is seen as negative and must therefore be criticised, rather it would like to be a responsible partner in building a new Nigeria.

He also dismissed speculations about any form of alliance with the ruling APC, which he described as media trial, saying that the party is not into trouble shooting but rather into constructive engagement with the government of the day provided that would bring about common good for the larger majority of the people of Nigeria.

Aniebonam spoke against the backdrop of a recent meeting between Senator Kwankwaso and then President-elect, Tinubu in France shortly before his inauguration, after which the President promised he would include the former Kano Sate Governor in his cabinet of National Competence, a development that prompted insinuations that Kwankwaso probably played a spoiler game for Atiku, both of who are from the North to pave way for Tinubu’s emergence.

While ruling out the possibility of any form of spoiler for the former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, Aniebonam insisted that the party’s candidate was in the presidential race to win the election, adding that there is absolutely no reason to do that, especially given the overall performance of the party in 2023 general elections in the country.

According to him, shortly after the election, the then President-elect, Tinubu invited Kwankwaso to France for a meeting, which he honoured out of respect for the next coming president, adding that there was no reason to shun the meeting by Kwankwaso, who is a lover of Nigeria and who is willing to do anything for the good of the country.

“NNPP is not combative, there is no need for media trial at this time, we don’t go trouble shooting. There is absolutely nothing bad with Kwankwaso meeting with Tinubu in France. We need to offer constructive engagements, the party can congratulate him (Tinubu) and still goes to court to challenge his victory, that doesn’t mean anything.

“Kwankwaso is not a spoiler for Atiku; what for? NNPP is not an opposition party in the context we use it in Nigeria. Opposition should be about constructive engagement and not that anything the government does is wrong and must be criticised. NNPP is rather a responsible partner in the overall interest of the Nigerian project”, Aniebonam also said.

Recall that NNPP, which was formed about 21 years ago and which had been relatively unknown, had however, upstaged the then ruling APC in Kano State, having won the governorship seat. It also won two senatorial seats and 18 out of the 24 House of Representatives seats in the state as well as 24 out of the 40 state’s House of Assembly positions in the state. The party also won one House of Representatives seats in Jigawa, one House of Assembly seat in Bauchi, two House of Assembly seats in Taraba and two House of Assembly seats in Nasarrawa State.

In Taraba, NNPP’s governorship candidate of the party, Prof Yahaya Sani is currently challenging the outcome of the governorship election in which the PDP candidate was declared winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC and has since been sworn in.

While commenting on the recent removal of subsidy, which had led to nearly 200per cent hike in the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit PMS, also called petrol and the attendant hardship it has brought on the people, he noted that the government should constructively engage with the citizens so as to seek their buy-in and understanding.

He argued that no matter how well-intended, the people must resist any policy or move by the government that brings about hardship on them, adding that it is the responsibility of the government using the instrumentality of the media to inform and educate the people even before the introduction of such policies that it could bring discomforts in the short term but would be in the overall interest of everyone in the medium and long term.