By Stanley Nkwocha, Uchenna Awom and Chibuzo Ukaibe
Leadership Nigeria, Tuesday, March 12, 2013
There were strong indications last night that the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is behind moves to register a new political party, African Peoples Congress (APC), with the sole aim of appropriating the acronym.
Agents of the PDP, according to sources, allegedly filed the papers for registration of the new grouping with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) last week to serve as a counterpoise to the fledgling All Progressive Congress (APC) -- an amalgam of political parties including the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and the fractious All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).
But, in a swift reaction, the secretary of the PDP’s Board of Trustees, Senator Jubril Walid, told LEADERSHIP that the allegation that his party was behind the move to register the new grouping is baseless.
“It is not the duty of any political party to register another party, but the responsibility of the INEC. And this is a constitutional matter; so if INEC decides to register or, as the case may be, deregister any party, it is totally the duty of the electoral organ. But to insinuate that the PDP is behind the registration of a political party or not is nothing but pure mischief,” he said.
Nonetheless, secretary of the CPC Buba Galadima has asked the All Progressive Congress merger committee to start looking for a new name, blaming them for lacking the foresight to anticipate the emergence of another party seeking registration under the alias “APC”.
INEC has already confirmed the development. The chief press secretary to its chairman, Mr. Kayode Idowu, said that the new grouping had approached the commission for registration as a political party, but declared that it still had to fulfil some criteria before it could be registered. He refused to disclose the promoters of the party.
Idowu also disclosed that the merger party, APC, was yet to file any application with the INEC to be registered as a party.
However, some PDP chieftains sympathetic to the merger arrangement told LEADERSHIP last night that the recourse to float a new party with the same acronym is a desperate ploy to stall the registration of APC.
“I can tell you authoritatively: the PDP is behind the move to register APC, otherwise let the promoters show their faces. After all, you cannot be making moves to form a political association that will openly canvass for votes and supporters in hiding. They should be courageous enough to unmask themselves. Won’t they canvass for votes?” said a PDP chieftain who would not like his name in print. “The whole thing smacks of desperation. You don’t need any soothsayer to interpret whose hand it is. That has been an old game, but then it is a clarion call for the merging parties to move faster and stop dilly-dallying. The implication is that the merging parties should be forward-looking, bearing in mind that such political games are imminent in a power contest. The rule is clear: no two parties with similar acronym would be allowed to contest any election.”
Galadima: Start looking for new name
Lamenting the situation, CPC’s national secretary Galadima said the issue is not whether PDP is behind the move but the blame, he said, should go to the merger committee. The committee, he said, was busy playing to the gallery rather than moving faster. They should be blamed for what has happened, he said, urging the APC committee to start looking for a new name.
In a telephone chat with LEADERSHIP, Galadima blamed the merger committee for underestimating the PDP, saying the committee “should have silently done what they are doing, register the party and then do convention. They have to change the name now”.
Blaming the merger committee for what he called “their lack of foresight”, he said: “They gave room for the current situation. PDP will do everything under its powers to scuttle the process, but you should be one step ahead. When you are up against a party like the PDP you have to be extremely careful. There is no need to fight anybody. They should look for another name.”
The application letter for the registration of the party, which originated from the LEGAL WORLD CHAMBERS (Legal Practitioners), was dated February 28, 2013, and addressed to the chairman of INEC.
The letter signed by Barr. Nwokorie Samuel Chinedu, which is in possession of LEADERSHIP, reads in part: “Application for Approval to Register ‘African Peoples Congress’ As a Political Party in Nigeria.
We are solicitors to the promoters of AFRICAN PEOPLES CONGRESS (hereinafter referred to as “our clients”) on whose instructions and authority we write you this letter.
“Our clients in pursuance of their political ambitions intend to register a political party in Nigeria with the name “AFRICAN PEOPLES CONGRESS.
“Premised on the above, we therefore humbly wish to apply to your office for approval to register ‘AFRICAN PEOPLES CONGRESS’ as a political party in Nigeria, having carried out a search on the proposed name to the effect that no other political party registered in Nigeria bears same.
“We will be very grateful if our request is granted as we pledge to comply with all the requirements of your esteemed commission.
“Thank you in anticipation of your kind consideration.”