AC FINALLY CHANGES NAME, HOLDS CONVENTION TODAY TO RATIFY ACN
When the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) was delivered in 1998, it was christened All Peoples Party (APP) at the Airport Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos. Some of the people who midwifed its birth were the late Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Chief Bola Ige (SAN), Senator Arthur Nzeribe, the late Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu, the late Afenifere leader, Pa Abraham Adesanya, the late General Joseph Garba, Alhaji Umaru Shinkafi, Senator Kofoworola Burknor-Akerele and Chief Ayo Adebanjo among several others.
Going by the observation of Ige, the party had all the potentials of becoming the most formidable of the century. Quoting the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Ige reminded the gathering that Awolowo had once prophesised that a time would come, when politicians of progressive mind across the nation would come together to salvage the country.
He expressed confidence that the prophesy of Awolowo had come to pass with the Ikeja , Assembly. But things later fell apart when some South-West politicians felt uncomfortable with the involvement of some politicians whose roles in the annulment of June 12, 1993 election salutory. It is believed that Senator Nzeribe played a prominent role in the saga with his Association for Better Nigeria (ABN).
This opposition to some people led to the birth of the Alliance for Democracy (AD).
The three parties that were eventually registered were the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), AD and APP.
The general election of 1999 saw the PDP clinching the presidency, while the ANPP had nine governors and AD five.
Genesis of crisis
Since then, a lot of water has passed under the nation's political bridge. AD as a party, was suspected to have been polarised by the PDP. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo was suspected to be the brain behind the polarisation with the sole aim of killing the party for him to have the much-required home base relevance.
The two factions that emerged from the party were under the control of Chief Micael Koleoso and Senator Mojisoluwa Akinfenwa. Since then, AD's case could be likened to a proverbial fowl that perches precariously on a suspended string.
The devastating defeat suffered in its South-West base in the 2003 general elections led the AD to team up with other like-minded political platforms to form a political association called Action Congress of Democrats (ACD). However, it was not presented for registration. So, it died a natural death.
It was against this backdrop that the leadership of the party, under the former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu put on its thinking cap and decided to abandon the AD and form the Action Congress (AC).
However, for strategic reasons, the AC leadership left behind Chief Mochael Koleoso and some members to struggle for the control of AD with a view to destabilising Akinfenwa's faction. The truth of the matter, however, is that the present members of the AC are largely drawn from AD.
Now, with the number of political parties rising to an all record 54 and with the ruling PDP becoming too strong to contend with, some political players then put heads together to form a coalition of opposition that would be formidable enough to give the PDP a stiff battle. But all attempts to succeed were scuttled either by selfish interests or through the hatchet job of moles in the house. An example of such an attempt was the much touted Mega Party under leadership of the elder statesman, Chief Anthony Enahoro.
With the failure of the Mega Party which led to the dispersal of notable members like General Muhammadu Buhari, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and Chief Olu Falae, another attempt was made recently which was led by Tinubu, General Buhari, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa, Chief Olu Falae, Koleoso, Akinfenwa, Chief Bisi Akande and other former AD governors like Olusegun Osoba, Alhaji Lam Adesina and Otunba Niyi Adebayo.
Daily Sun learnt that there were consultations that took the stakeholders to Abuja, Ibadan, Lagos and other states in the country. It was learnt that one of the meetings in Ibadan facilitated the peace brokered between the two AD warring factions. During the consultations, Daily Sun learnt that an agreement was reached for a new name to be given to the party with a view to giving all the contributing platforms a sense of belonging.
So, what is happening today in Lagos is change of name in pursuance of the accord reached by the stakesholders in previous meetings. It will be a non-elective convention in preparation for an elective one tentatively slated for Edo State sometime in September.
If that happens, it means that the ambition of some aspirants would suffer a setback as both elective and appointive positions would be shared and redistributed to accommodate all the stakeholders.
It is against this background that palpable fear is noticeable among elective office seekers who want the ticket of the about to be defunct Action Congress (AC) as the party is set to change its name today to the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).
Their fears, according to Daily Sun findings stem from the fact that negotiations would be entered into by all the platforms that will team up to own the new arrangement and it will also entail sharing and re-distribution of offices both elective and appointive across the country. A top chieftain of the party told Daily Sun on condition of anonymity that 'the new arrangement will even start from the new Executive Committee that will be put in place immediately after the change of name.'
A source close to the leadership of the party confided in our correspondent in Oshogbo that 'some of the aspirants who have already started mobilising for their ambitions would be asked to drop their aspiration for new comers as every member of the new party would be considered as equal joiner and equal founding and pioneer member.'
Daily Sun however gathered that though AC might be the senior partner in the new arrangement, slots would be allocated and conceded in accordance with the strength of the contributing parties in their areas of operations.
For instance, former governor of Sokoto State and leader of the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP), Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa might be allowed to nominate candidates for his catchment areas while the former Head of State and leader of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), might be given a free hand to nominate candidates from his own domain.
Another chieftain of the party from Kwara State, who doesn't want his name in print also explained that 'in Lagos State for example, the Democratic Peoples Alliance (DPA) might be allowed to nominate candidates for offices in the Central Senatorial District because of the outstanding performance of its governorship candidate in the 2007 election, Mr. Jimi Agbaje.' The offices, Daily Sun gathered would include council seats, National Assembly slots, State of House of Assembly positions, commissioners as well as slots in the executive council of the party.
National Publicity Secretary of the Alliance for Democracy (AD), Mr. Michael Popoola Ajayi, who confirmed that his party is part of the new order however said that 'the issue of aspiration has not come up yet,' explaining that 'the issue at hand now is to first consolidate the new party before talking about individual aspiration.'
Alhaji Lateef Raji, Chairman, Lagos state chapter of the AD disclosed to Daily Sun that 'the two factions of the party (Mike Koleosho and Mojisoluwa Akinfenwa factions) have come together' saying 'both sides have seen wisdom in closing ranks to form a formidable platform that would be strong enough to win elections.'
Both factions were present at a parley in Ibadan last week where all the former AD governors like Chief Akande, Adesina, Chief Segun Osoba, Adebayo and Tinubu were in attendance. Although the AD spokesman, said the issue of aspirations is not yet on the agenda, Daily Sun however gathered that there are behind the door manoeuvres to work towards pairing General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) and former Lagos state governor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as presidential candidate and running mate respectively.
If the rumours making the rounds is anything to go by, the former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, is being wooed to join the 2011 presidential race on the platform of the ACN. At the state level, a governorship aspirant from one of the southwest zone confided in Daily Sun that 'though the race will be thrown open to every interested aspirant, there might be consideration for Babatunde Fashola of Lagos state and Adams Oshiomhole of Edo state for obvious reason.'
But another source stated emphatically that 'since the birth of the new party would sound the death knell of all the separate parties that come together to become one, the field would be thrown open for every contestant to try his or her own luck without any form of hindrance.' Whatever the case, the next few weeks before the September convention would be interesting as who becomes what, would manifest for all to see.