Merger: Fresh crisis looms in APC

A fresh crisis may soon rock the All Progressives Congress as a splinter group in the All Nigeria Peoples Party is seeking a halt to the merger and registration of the APC.

Alhaji Lai Mohammed

Alhaji Lai Mohammed

The ANPP is one of the three main opposition parties spearheading the formation of APC to defeat the ruling Peoples Democratic Party in the 2015 elections. The others are the Action Congress of Nigeria and the Congress for Progressive Change.

Until last week, the ownership of the acronym, APC, had been a subject of controversy between the All Progressives Congress, the African Peoples Congress and the All Patriotic Citizens.

The All Patriotic Citizens dropped its name, while the Independent National Electoral Commission declined to register the African Peoples Congress which hitherto insisted on its name and the acronym.

The opposition parties had separately and collectively accused the PDP of sponsoring those behind the parties contending the APC acronym.

In calling for an end to ANPP’s involvement in the merger, the splinter group alleged that all the parties to the arrangement were not being treated equally.

The group, in a letter addressed to the ANPP National Chairman, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, therefore gave the party’s leadership three weeks to pull out of the merger to avoid committing political suicide.

The letter dated April 2 and signed by the convener of the group and the Usuma ward Chairman of the ANPP, in Bwari Area Council, Abuja, Mallam Isa Bala, was copied to INEC chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega. It is entilted, “MERGER/APC CRISIS: HOW WE HAVE BEEN FOOLED & DECEIVED BY BOLA TINUBU/ACN PARTY (THE SECRET TINUBU IS HIDING FROM US (MERGING PARTNERS).”

In the letter, the group alleged that the All progressives Congress was the brainchild of a former Lagos State Governor, Bola Tinubu, who had in 2006 formed a political group with the acronym, APC.

According to it , the same APC, which was registered in January 2006 transformed to the ACN in August 2006 under Tinubu’s leadership .

It argued that the same people who sponsored the “failed” APC were insisting on the acronym just to expand their political empire.

A copy of the letter which was obtained by The PUNCH in Abuja reads in part, “The merger could have also provided a strong two -party system in Nigeria which will produce a virile opposition as it is obtained in advanced democracies of the world.

“The gains of the merger cannot be over-emphasised as the generality of Nigerians had anxiously waited for its realisation.

“However, to our utter bewilderment, we have discovered the unholy, inordinate, ulterior motive of a few insatiable political gluttons, who are largely obsessed with the self-driven interest of expanding their political empire to the detriment of the greater majority of Nigerians.

“We the members of ANPP Concerned Stakeholders, therefore, call upon our national leadership to henceforth suspend involvement in the merger process until this and other questions are answered.

“It has become obvious that the merger partners are not treated as equal entities in the merger project, rather it is being dominated by the Bola Tinubu- led ACN.

“The interest of our great party is evidently, not adequately protected, in the present merging arrangement. Therefore, our party cannot surrender its identity that all our founding fathers have laboured for, to satisfy the interest of an individual.

“Consequently, we give our national leadership three weeks to suspend their involvement in the merger if this anomaly is not corrected. We also urge our national leadership to start discussing the possibility of forming alliance with the Congress for Progressive Change and other political parties on basis of mutual respect and equality for one another in the 2015 general elections .

“On this note, we encourage the CPC led by General (Muhammadu) Buhari to also review its stance and stake in the merger arrangement, as it is a hoax that can yield no political or democratic dividend.

“As earlier advocated, an alliance with CPC and other political parties where Gen. Buhari, a time-tested leader is presented as a presidential candidate, will garner an overwhelming acceptance from Nigerians.”

But the National Publicity Secretary of the ANPP, Chief Emma Eneuku, dismissed members of the group as impostors who were being used to distract the merger.

He said, “He (Bala) is not a member of our party. He is just one of those people they are using to distract what we are doing. A member of my party cannot just write INEC, we have a NEC (National Executive Committee) meeting on the 11th of this month, where everybody will come. Anyone who does not like what we are doing can approach the party. When somebody is working like this, you know he is not working for our party.”

Also, the National Publicity Secretary of the ACN, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, recalled that Nigerians had been previously informed that the PDP would stop at nothing to frustrate the merger.

He said, “The ANPP has disowned the man. It is part of the antics to distract us from what we are doing. The ANPP says they don’t know him; he is an agent being used by the PDP to derail the process.

“The name APC did not even come from the ACN. If I can remember very well, it was the ANPP that even came with the name not us, what is his grouse? What has INEC got to do with this? I think he is just one who is seeking attention. We told Nigerians a few days ago that the Presidency will do everything to derail the merger; this is one of it.”

The CPC said the whole affair was part of the same script which showed the level of desperation of opponents of the merger.

“Their plan failed. It is not surprising that the PDP is making another failed attempt at scuttling the merger by using a political neophyte who is unaware of the legitimacy in our political system. Such is the confusion of the PDP company,” its National Publicity Secretary, Rotimi Fashakin, said.

When contacted, INEC Director of Information, Mr. Emmanuel Umenger, said he was in a meeting and as such unavailable for comments.

But the Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Mr. Kayode Idowu, said, “I have not seen the letter.”

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