• Saturday, April 13, 2024
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APC: wriggling out of acronym debacle ahead registration

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When the three opposition parties: Action Congress of Nigeria, (ACN), All Nigeria People’s Party, (ANPP) and Congress for Progressive Change, (CPC) announced their plan to merge to form a single political party, there was high expectation that the opposition parties were serious at halting the continuous rule of People’s Democratic Party, (PDP) which has been on at the centre since 1999.

The leaders of the three political parties went further to consolidate the merger plan by announcing the formation of All Progressive Congress (APC).

The leaders of the three political parties were however shocked when they went to the national headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Abuja only to be told that another association had submitted a letter of intent for registration and with same APC acronym.

Kayode Idowu, chief press secretary to the INEC chairman, later advised the three parties to consider a new name and acronym to facilitate the registration of their group as a political party. He was quoted to have advised “We don’t encourage political parties with similar names, manifestos, logos and acronyms and this is aimed at avoiding confusion between registered political parties with similar names and acronyms.”

Few days after, clearer picture and weight of Kayode’s statement that an association had approached INEC manifested when leaders behind the new association unveiled the name, logo and emblem of its party known as African People’s Congress (APC).

At an elaborate ceremony at the new national secretariat of the new party located opposite Apo Legislative Quarters, Abuja, Onyinye Ikeagwuonu, protem national chairman of the rival APC, told party supporters that “PDP, ACN, CPC, ANPP etc have remorselessly squandered the goodwill of Nigerians, fiddling while the nation burns.”

He said, “While infrastructure suffers in the states, with the economy of the states wound round monthly allocations and diverted council funds, the governors of the PDP shuttle across the globe in private jets that further diminish the resources of their states, leaving the people to bear the brunt.”

He asked the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) “to immediately commence investigation into the source of fund used to purchase the private jets by these public officers.”

Ikeagwuonu noted that aside Babatunde Fashola, governor of Lagos State that has shown some aptitude for work “other ACN states are mere shadow states and ghost towns where their chief executives are just sounding off while still groping in the dark years after being elected into office.”

He said the collective achievements of the contraptions “called PDP, ACN and ANPP can best be likened to the dance of the penguins-one step forward, two steps backward-and the woes of our country continue to evolve from bad to worse.”

The new party displayed copies of two receipts it paid for registration with INEC along with a letter from the commission forwarding to it 20 copies of Form PA 1 for completion.

Among requirements from INEC for registration were: establishment of party headquarters in the FCT; proof of ownership of such building; constitution of the party; manifesto of the association; evidence of payment of N1m as application and processing fees; affidavit in support of the claims in Form PA 1 and association logo and flag.

Leaders of the APC of the merger parties in a swift reaction joined issues with INEC and accused the commission of an attempt to frustrate the merger and went a step further to attack the ruling PDP for being in league with INEC to truncate the merger plan of the three political parties.

Lai Mohammed, national publicity secretary of ACN, who has been speaking for the merger parties faulted INEC and said the purported claim of the rival association was not backed by the relevant sections of the Electoral Act regulating the registration of political parties. Mohammed then said “the statement credited to Idowu is therefore reckless and provocative and clearly betrays INEC as truly having merged with the PDP to frustrate the merger of the progressives, under the banner of the All Progressives’ Congress.”

He referred INEC to some provisions of the Electoral Act and in particular Sections 78 (1) and Section 78(2). Section 78 (1) reads, “A political association that complies with the provision of the constitution and this Act for the purposes of registration shall be registered as a political party, provided that such application shall be duly submitted to the commission not later than six months before a general election.”

Section 78 (2) says: “The commission shall on receipt of the documents in fulfillment of the conditions stipulated by the constitution immediately issue the applicant with a letter of acknowledgement stating that all necessary documents have been submitted to the commission.”

Mohammed concluded, “In this case the applicants, on behalf of the African People’s Congress, the clients of Legal World Chambers, have not submitted any of the documents stipulated by the

constitution to INEC. They have only written a letter of intent and therefore INEC could not have issued them any letter of acknowledgment, let alone starting the process of verifying the documents.

“At this point, they cannot even be regarded as applicants. Why then did INEC, through its spokesperson, gleefully go to the media to proclaim that another political association has applied to be registered as African People’s Congress using the same acronym APC? Clearly, INEC is on a mission of mischief and its paymaster is the PDP, which has been having sleepless nights since the merger arrangement was announced.’’

The ACN went a bit further to accuse PDP of working to truncate democracy by its desperate moves to engineer the registration of rival APC.

Olisah Metuh, national publicity secretary of the PDP, quickly took the gauntlet to reply ACN and berated the merger parties for putting the cart before the horse and the haphazard manner they handled their party’s registration.

Metu said “In fact, the ACN has shown that it is the real threat to Nigerian democracy and they are unyielding in their plot to truncate the system with propaganda, lies and media deceit because they have been rejected by Nigerians.

“Nigerians have since realised their evil desires and have continued to answer them with overwhelming support for the PDP in elections, the recent being the FCT elections where PDP won five out of the six area councils with the ACN getting none.”

 TUNJI OLAWUNI