INEC Recruited to Kill APGA
The ostrich game being played by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC in the protracted crisis rocking the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA has been identified as one of the several measures designed to consign APGA into irrelevance. The electoral body rather than step out boldly to perform its constitutional functions of monitoring internal democratic mechanisms of political parties have pretended in the case of APGA and instead decided to take side with a faction of the party in order to keep the party in perpetual crisis. The Commission has continued to rely on court rulings which in anyway do not impinge on its functions to shy away from its constitutional roles in the matter concerning APGA. For instance, the recent Enugu Court of Appeal judgment on APGA crisis stated that the complainant has no locus standi to bring the matter before the court. It never said that the convention of APGA in 2011 which was the issue in contention was properly conducted according to its constitution. The judgment simply leaves INEC with an opportunity to do its job in this regard because it monitored the convention. The truth remains that APGA would not have been in court if INEC had performed its constitutional roles concerning APGA 2011 Convention; as done in PDP 2012 Convention. It is the double standard approach of the Commission that has left APGA where it is today.
The Electoral Act 2010 among other things empowered INEC to monitor activities of political parties particularly the congresses and conventions. Though INEC responsibility does not include directing political parties on how to go about its activities but it must ensure that such activities adhere to constitutional provisions of the party. In February 2011, the National Convention of APGA took place in Awka, Anambra State. This was duly monitored by INEC. Article 18, sub-section (1) and (4) of the APGA constitution stipulates that election into the various offices of the party from the wards through the state to the national level must be by secret balloting.
INEC report on APGA convention of February 2011 in Awka tendered before the Court of Appeal, Enugu that recently ruled on APGA crisis states that a motion by Dr. Samson Olaleye, chairman, Oyo state and seconded by Prince Ukaegbu, Chairman, Abia says, “the national executive committee of our great party in a meeting at Nicon Luxury Hotel, Abuja, December 1, 2010 recommended that the tenure of the reconstituted members of the national working committee, NWC be renewed for another four years.” The motion further urged that the tenure of the recommended officers be renewed by the national convention at Awka. INEC went further in its report to state that the nominated members of the NWC were later presented to the delegates, “thereafter the motion was put to vote and was adopted by the voice vote of delegates. There was no dissension,” the report concluded.
INEC report never in any way mentioned that that exercise was done in compliance to section 18 of APGA constitution which clearly states that election must be by secret balloting. Incidentally INEC report on the conduct of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP Convention of March, 24, 2012, stated that “all other positions were affirmed by motion except for the position of the National Chairman”. The report concluded saying, “the mode of election adopted was not in accordance with the mode of election stipulated in paragraph 6.5(i) of the party guideline for 2012 congresses and convention and therefore unacceptable to the Commission.”
The issue therefore is why has APGA Convention which is in total violation of the party guideline for congresses and convention become acceptable to INEC. If INEC is sincere, why has it raised that anomaly only in PDP leaving APGA to remain in crisis? It has been revealed that INEC's continued recognition of that convention is to ensure that the party loses the forthcoming election in Anambra state and subsequent ones. It is a double approach plan by INEC. If the party can remain in crisis, it will not muster the strength to present a common front for elections. And if however the party is able to wriggle out and win election anywhere, the opposing parties will have enough ground to nullify the election in court because APGA candidates may not claim to have been nominated by validly elected organs of the party according to the party constitution.
Meanwhile, feelers from the various states are that the Victor Umeh faction of APGA which now enjoys INEC recognition is making serious efforts to cook up lists from wards through the local governments to the states to create a scenario that resembles congresses at such levels in 2012 and push to INEC for adoption. We learnt that such exercise would be to prepare Umeh for a possible call for a proper convention by INEC so that he comes with already recognized list from INEC. But the same INEC has failed to release to Maxi Okwu since May, 2013 certified true copy of APGA congresses at the wards, local government and states levels monitored by the commission in 2011 which is a clear evidence that there was no congress of APGA from the ward level to the state monitored by INEC in 2011. Should any list emanate for INEC now on that regard, it will only reinforce a grand plan to keep APGA in perpetual crisis.
National Publicity Secretary,