INEC Condition on Elected EXCOS Puts APC Under Pressure

By The Citizen

Opposition leaders moving to form a merger political party under the umbrella of All Progressives Congress are now under pressure in a bid to meet the condition set by the Independent National Electoral Commission for the registration of the party.

INEC had categorically told the merging political leaders that the new opposition party must have its elected executives in place at all levels before it could be registered.

The Action Congress of Nigeria, Congress for Progressive Change, All Nigeria Peoples party as well as factions of the All Progressive Grand Alliance and Democratic Peoples Party are rooting to form the opposition APC.

APC formally applied for registration penultimate Friday but the confirmation that the prospective party had approached INEC emerged on Tuesday when the Chairman of ACN Merger Committee and spokesman of the Joint Merger Committees, Chief Tom Ikimi, addressed journalists on the issue.

The prospective party had approached INEC without constituting its executives and INEC, according to sources, insisted that such executives must be in place at all levels.

'The commission made it clear to the APC leaders that their executives must be in place at all levels if the party would be registered and they are now battling to fulfill the condition,' said a source close to INEC.

the party had ceded the chairmanship of the proposed party to ACN, secretaryship to CPC while ANPP is to produce the treasurer.

In ACN, the party leaders are torn between Ikimi and its National Chairman, Chief Bisi Akande.

ACN National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, is pushing Akande for the chairmanship and former Federal Capital Territory Minister, Nasir el-Rufai, for the position of Secretary, while other non-Yoruba elements in ACN are rooting for Ikimi to be chairman.

Those backing the former National Republican Party chairman, Ikimi, for the APC chair argue that he is a moderate and would likely run the party with views and suggestions from others.

But they fear Akande would be amenable to dictation from Tinubu, arguing that if Akande is chairman, then its Tinubu that is in charge.

The issue of protem executives remains a thorny issue in the new opposition party.
Governors of the parties in the proposed merger party, who met late on Monday night to resolve the disagreement over the sharing of the party's leadership positions, failed to resolve the issue.

The meeting which was held at the Lagos Governor's Lodge, Abuja was attended by most of the governors but the lingering issue of who takes what office in the merger party has continued to pose a major challenge to the proposed party.

Addressing reporters after their resumed talks last Tuesday in Abuja, Ikimi said the coalition formally filed an application with INEC on June 7 for the registration of APC.

'The request for the approval of the merging parties have been signed and submitted by the three signatories authorised to sign it,' he said.

Ikimi said those who signed the documents accompanying the application were the three chairmen and secretaries of ACN, CPC and ANPP who were statutorily permitted to do so.

'For now, only three parties have done their convention, ACN, CPC and ANPP, and these are the ones authorised to have those documents signed.  There are nine people who have signed those documents and the request was submitted last Friday (June 7),' he said.

Ikimi seemed to confirm the apprehension over the brewing leadership crisis threatening the merger process, when he said the formation of the APC leadership structure must respect the principle of equity and transparency.

On the suspected disagreement among the constituent parties in the coalition over the APC leadership, Ikimi explained that contrary to the general apprehension that there was a crisis over the merger arrangement, the parties had concluded their meeting under a peaceful atmosphere.

He said one of the decisions reached at the merger talks was that the parties should engage in more consultations on the outstanding issues.

The statement read by Ikimi at the end of the merger meeting stated: 'We are aware that millions of Nigerians await the final registration of our new party, the APC, so that they can avail themselves the opportunity to take up its membership.  The plan, hope and commitment of the merger committees are that the new party will be broad-based, open and truly belong to all its members equally.  To this end, we have all subscribed to our new constitution and it defines, quite clearly, the leadership structure of the party.  This principle underscores equity and fair play among party members without prejudice.

'We will therefore strive to guarantee transparency and internal party democracy particularly at this stage of registration. We expect all of us involved in the process to also subscribe to and respect these fundamental principles.'

On the controversy trailing the decision on APC interim leadership structure, ACN National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said there was no time limit under the law compelling the merging parties to name the leadership.

'There is no time for which we are to submit a list of our interim national officers.  We do not owe anybody any obligation to do so in one day or three days. We are not going to satisfy the media or the public at the expense of the good health of the party.  We must understand that this is the first time this kind of thing is happening. What we ever had before may be alliances or coalition, this is the first time merger is happening and we are determined we would not do it wrongly,' he said.