12th March, 2013
The announcement by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that it had received a notice of registration from a party, the African Peoples Congress, APC, and therefore may not be able to register the newly formed All Progressives Congress, APC, has attracted a stern warning from the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN. The party says there would be serious crisis if INEC refuses to register it.
Reacting to the development Tuesday morning, the ACN Publicity Secretary in Lagos State, Joe Igbokwe, said INEC was being used to cause chaos in the country.
According to Igbokwe, “we said it that INEC has merged with PDP and some people thought we were lying. Now the chicken has come home to roost.
“Did INEC not see the efforts put in place by the progenitors of APC? Did INEC not see how APC emerged through an excruciating process?
“Now INEC must deregister the so-called moribund APC and register the real All Progressives Congress in the interest of peace in this country and for the growth of democracy.
“INEC should recall what happened in 1999 before the registration of Alliance for Democracy (AD). INEC must not play with Nigeria. INEC must register the real APC to avoid trouble!” In his own reaction, a member of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Mufutau Egberongbe, said he was not surprised at the way the issue was playing out, but said he would support any move by his party to challenge INEC. INEC, he said must not toy with the country’s destiny.
Egberongbe said it was funny that nobody knew those behind the formation of the African Peoples Congress except for the fact that they may have been used by the PDP to thwart the efforts of the genuine APC.
“When was it floated and why is it that up till now, nobody has come out to say he is the chairman of the party or the publicity secretary?” he asked pointing out that INEC was looking for trouble.
He also accused the government of President Goodluck Jonathan of being the most reckless both in action and in words, saying he would stand by the ACN on any move it deems fit over the issue.
Abdubaq Balogun, another Lagos lawmaker, urged the merging opposition parties to urgently show the world the evil machinations of the PDP and the government of President Jonathan in trying to frustrate the registration of the APC. He said with the formation of the All Progressives Congress, the PDP had become jittery that power is leaving its hands in the next elections since it would not be able to stand the coalition.
“Everyone knows about our APC and INEC is supposed to know better. But come what may, the APC is going to take over power in 2015,” he said.
Another lawmaker, Ipoola Omisore, said with the announcement from INEC, the electoral umpire had effectively made itself a clog in the wheel of progress of the country.
Warning INEC chairman, Attahiru Jega, against smearing his hard-earned image, he warned that anybody who attempts to stop the registration of the APC would be overrun by the crisis that may erupt.
“Our party leaders are always smart. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo made attempts to swallow the southwest while he was president but you saw how we overcame him and became stronger.
“They (INEC, the PDP And Jonathan) do not have a choice because we have become what the country had been looking for,” he declared.
Also, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) this morning accused INEC of engaging in barefaced lies and manipulation of facts by claiming that the phantom African Peoples Congress had applied to the commission for registration.
National leader of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Muhammadu Buhari, had a few days ago raised the alarm, warning INEC against becoming part of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Former governor of Zamfara state, Senator Ahmed Sani, was even arrested at the weekend for threatening mass mobilisation should INEC refuse to register the newly merged parties under the name APC. Currently, fingers are being pointed at the PDP for taking advantage of the fact that no two parties should bear the same acronym.
In a statement issued in Abuja by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said the INEC’s claim, as articulated by Mr. Kayode Idowu, the spokesman is not supported by the relevant sections of the Electoral Act regulating the registration of a political party.
It said the truth of the matter is that no party today with the acronym APC has applied to INEC to be registered, adding that even the phantom African Peoples Congress “which is being sponsored by the PDP to lay claim to the acronym” had only written a letter of intent, which has not even been discussed by INEC. “The statement credited to Mr. 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 (APC).
“One wonders who the spokesman is speaking for and what interest he represents. He should therefore be called to order before he sets the country ablaze,” ACN said.
“They have only written a letter of intent and therefore INEC could not have issued them any letter of acknowledgment, not to talk of starting the process of verifying the documents. At this point they cannot even be regarded as applicants.
“Clearly INEC is on a mission of mischief and its paymaster is PDP which has been having sleepless nights since the merger arrangement was announced,” ACN said.’
“The INEC spokesperson who announced to the world that another political association has applied to be registered as APC is therefore definitely being paid by the PDP to mislead Nigerians, subvert extant regulations and scuttle the proposed merger of the ACN, ANPP, APGA and CPC. He should immediately be called to order before he sets the country ablaze,” the party said.
It said what has emerged over the registration issue is that INEC is in cahoots with the PDP to stampede the merging parties to drop the acronym APC, adding however that “this has failed because as of today in accordance with the provisions of S. 78 (2) and S. 78 (6) of the Electoral Act as explained above, there is no applicant on record for the acronym APC, contrary to the deceit being spread by the INEC spokesman.”
ACN also alerted Nigerians to the fact that INEC had a constructive knowledge of the merger plan and the existence of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for a long time, going by statements credited to the INEC spokesman both in the print and the electronic media.
On 17 February, 2013, Mr. Idowu was quoted as saying that the All Progressives Congress (APC) remained a political association, even though it is yet to be recognised by the commission.
“By law, we do not expect APC to come to INEC. The political parties that are fusing into another party will individually and respectively come back to INEC, notifying us that they are fusing into a party with a new identity,” ACN quoted Mr. Idowu as saying on that date.
“The same Idowu also told TVC news on 8 February, 2013 that INEC was expecting the leadership of the All Progressives Congress to apply for formal documentation. With these statements, it is clear that INEC has always had a constructive knowledge of the All Progressives Congress (APC) since the merger plan started, and that the emerging party did not have to do anything until all the component parties have held their conventions and ratified the constitution, manifesto and logo of the APC.
Assuring Nigerians that the genuine APC was on course, the ACN called for vigilance on the part of all progressive forces across the country, “especially because we have it on good authority that a top official of INEC has boasted that the emergence of the All Progressives Congress (APC) will be frustrated at all costs.”
—Kazeem Ugbodaga & Eromosele Ebhomele