Wednesday, July 31, 2013

APC Registration: It's A New Dawn - Buhari, Tinubu

By Chibuzo Ukaibe, Bob Gbadebo, Kazeem Akintunde, Taiwo Ogunmola Omiliani, Paul Dada, Midat Joseph, Josua Dada, Abdullahi Olesin and Nnamdi Mbawike

LEADERSHIP, Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) defied all odds yesterday as it formally registered the All Progressives Congress (APC) as a political party.
Former head of state General Muhammadu Buhari and former governor of Lagos State Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu hailed the development, saying it signals a new dawn for the country.
The registration yesterday elicited spontaneous applause from the party’s promoters and even its rival, the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which immediately congratulated the new-born party.
In a statement by the INEC secretary, Abdullahi A. Kaugama, announcing the birth of APC, he declared:  “The political parties Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) met all statutory requirements for the merger, hence the granting of their request to be a political party.”
Consequently, the commission declared its approval of the withdrawal of the individual certificates of the applicant-parties and the issuance of a single certificate to the All Progressives Congress.
The statement reads in part:”The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has approved the application by three political parties – the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) – to merge into one, to be known as the All Progressives Congress.
“On considering the application, the Commission found that the applicant-parties have met all statutory requirements for the merger, and has accordingly granted their request.
“Consequently, the Commission has approved the withdrawal of the individual certificates of the applicant-parties, and the issuance of a single certificate to the All Progressives Congress.”
By this merger, therefore, the APC becomes the biggest opposition party going into the 2015 general elections.
Interim national secretary of APC Alhaji Tijjani Tumsah, who applauded INEC for sticking to due diligence in the registration of the party, said a timeline on how the constituent parties would submit their party registration certificates would be communicated to the individual parties soon. Tumsah, who is away in Saudi Arabia on Hajj, told LEADERSHIP, “The registration was in order and I must also thank INEC for taking the time to do due diligence to get our registration done.”
As for when parties would submit their certificates he said, “I don’t have an idea yet, but I will write a letter to the parties on the timeline for submission of party certificates.”

A new dawn in Nigeria politics - Buhari, ACF
Reactions have continued to trail the registration. Presidential candidate of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) General Buhari congratulated Nigerians on the registration of APC.
A source close to him told LEADERSHIP on condition of anonymity that “General Buhari congratulates patriotic Nigerians clamouring for change and INEC alike on the historic registration of APC.”
According to the source, “General Buhari congratulated all the leaders of the defunct ACN, CPC and ANPP including their governors and legislators on their tenacity, understanding and perseverance during all the merger process.
“It is a new dawn in the Nigerian political engineering and a new baby is born.”
Also reacting, the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) said the registration of APC as a political party was a healthy development needed for the growth of democracy.
According to ACF’s spokesman Anthony Sani, the registration of the new party is a healthy one, especially when regard is paid to the fact that any democracy without a viable alternative platform is a sham. 
Tinubu excited
National leader of the now defunct ACN Asiwaju Tinubu expressed satisfaction over the registration of the new political party.
Tinubu, in a statement released on his behalf by his media office, said history had been made with the registration of the APC by INEC: “The confirmation of the registration of the All Progressives Congress, APC, by INEC signals the commencement of a new phase in the struggle to bring true democratic change to Nigeria. 
“This is not just a merger. This is the first ever merger in the history of Nigeria and represents a paradigm shift in the politics of our country. Together we must own it.
“As Nigerians we see history unfold before our very eyes and we must rise up to answer the call of history to liberate our people.”
The former Lagos governor congratulated the APC governors and the leadership of the new party.
“I congratulate all our governors, all our members from the North-East, North-West, South-South, South-East, South-West and the North-Central and all would-be members and well-wishers of our great party, APC.
“Let me single out for congratulations the leadership of the merging parties, particularly the executives and the entire membership of APC, for their perseverance, doggedness and the sacrifices they made in the interest of our country. They resolutely stood behind the merger and had trust in the leadership and the process. Their faith in the message of change that APC represents has been aptly demonstrated.
“It is to them that the greatest credit goes. Because we fulfilled the laws for registration as prescribed, we all along were confident that our party would be registered. We worked hard to ensure that our party was in good stead and in good standing with the law.
“Selfish interest and ego were shelved. Personal sacrifices were made particularly by those who hitherto occupied higher positions in the merging parties in the interest of moving Nigeria forward.”
Tinubu also appreciated Nigerians who stood by the merger as well as the chairman of INEC, Professor Attahiru Jega.
“I congratulate millions of Nigerians who stood by us during the long process to form the  APC party and actualize its objective.
“This registration is a culmination of concerted and diverse efforts and commitment by our people to work for a new Nigeria. With APC, a new Nigeria is necessary and is possible.
“I also want to congratulate Jega and the leadership of INEC headed by him and the entire institution for this positive pronouncement.
“Nigerians must give INEC a pat on the back for complying with the law of the land. What INEC has done is to follow the constitution and the Electoral Act to the letter. We hope INEC will continue in this spirit of independence and respect for the rule of law in all its future operations,” he said.
The defunct ACN leader however called on INEC to allow for the full adoption of the biometric system.
“Our commitment to achieving One Man, One Vote remains resolute. We therefore must demand from INEC the full adoption of the biometric system. Prof. Jega and the institution he leads will not achieve much and their efforts at free and fair elections will not be fruitful until they adopt a modern technologically driven biometric system that will ensure the integrity of our elections and earn the confidence of Nigeria.
“If this is done, we can then say our democracy has advanced several miles forward to join other civilized democracies in Africa.” 
APC’ll live up to expectations – Shekarau
Former Kano State governor Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau has assured Nigerians that the newly registered APC will live up to expectations. Shekarau who spoke with LEADERSHIP last night through his spokesperson, Yau Sule, from Saudi Arabi congratulated Nigerians especially the members of the three merging parties, ACN, ANPP and the CPC, on the registration of the APC.
In his congratulatory message, the ex-governor said that “the INEC has proved to Nigerians that it is an impartial body out to serve the interest of Nigerians and protect the constitution of Nigeria”.
Shekarau also assured Nigerians that “the APC will be the desired alternative Nigerians have been looking for to bring a positive change to the development of the country”. 
It’s beginning of new era – APC govs
Meanwhile, the 11 opposition governors under the aegis of the Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF) has welcomed the registration of their new APC by INEC yesterday, saying the official pronouncement ratifying the merger of the opposition parties by the electoral umpire is a welcome development for democracy in Nigeria.
The forum, comprising governors of the now defunct ACN, ANPP and CPC as well as a faction of APGA, said it is also a victory for their party faithful across the nation, democrats and indeed for all Nigerians. The governors added that they salute INEC’s sense of responsibility and courage for upholding the constitution and the provisions of the Electoral Act 2010, as amended.
In a statement jointly signed by the state governors Babatunde Fashola (Lagos), Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Adams Oshiomhole (Edo), Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), Rauf Aregbesola (Osun), Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo), Kashim Shettima (Borno), Ibrahim Geidam (Yobe), Abdulaziz Yari (Zamfara), Rochas Okorocha (Imo) and Tanko Al-Makura (Nasarawa), they said their forum joins the members of the APC interim management committee under the leadership of Chief Bisi Akande and indeed the good people of Nigeria in celebrating the day of the new party’s registration.
“It is a day that signals the beginning of a new era in our national life when the collective aspirations of well-meaning Nigerians found expression in a legal entity that will be the rallying platform in our quest to rescue Nigeria,
“We therefore urge all Nigerians to take advantage of this opportunity to be part of this movement for change which has come to stay by becoming members of our great party, the All Progressives Congress (APC),” the governors said. 
Congratulations Nigeria – APC
Basking in the euphoria of its registration, the APC came out with its first ever public statement as a registered party: it congratulated Nigerians and declared that, with the birth of the party, Nigerians now have an alternative to a ruling party that has taken the people for a bad ride in the past 14 years.
In a statement issued by its interim national publicity secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, in Lagos, APC said its emergence is a victory for Nigeria and for democracy and that it has now also propelled the country to the league of top democratic nations with two major political parties.
It said: ‘’The journey has been long and tortuous. All sorts of obstacles were thrown onto our path by anti-democratic forces, but we were painstaking, determined and unrelenting in our quest for a formidable platform that will allow our country Nigeria to achieve her full potential and join the league of respectable nations.
‘’With the approval of our merger by INEC and the emergence of APC, today marks the beginning of a new dawn for our country and her long-suffering people. We thank Nigerians both here and in the Diaspora for standing by us. We thank the media for their fairness, and we commend INEC for doing the right thing and for not succumbing to pressures from phantom political associations that sought to force it to circumvent the law.
‘’We promise not to disappoint Nigerians who have reposed much confidence in us. We say that contrary to the lies being peddled by the naysayers, we are not seeking political power for the sake of getting it, but in order to use it to empower our people and allow their long-nursed hopes and dreams to become a reality.
‘’And to those who have vowed to change their names if APC survives for a year, we hope they will live up to their words.’’
APC said Nigerians can now look forward to a truly democratic party in the best traditions of what the world considers as the best form of government.
The party promised to unveil, in the days ahead, its membership registration plans to give all Nigerians, especially those who have become disenchanted with the way things are going in the country, the much-awaited opportunity to be part of the country’s democratic process in the true sense of the word.
‘’We will also be unveiling our plans to turn today’s hopelessness into a time of great opportunities, to reverse the downward slide in our socio-economic development, and to ensure that every Nigerian benefits from the common wealth, instead of the present situation in which a few fat cats are milking the system dry at the expense of the citizenry,’’ APC said. 
PDP congratulates APC, says registration poses no threat
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday also congratulated the new party but was quick to declare that APC poses no threat to it.
The party nonetheless declared that the registration is a healthy development for the nation’s democracy.
Acting national publicity secretary Barr. Tony Caesar Okeke boasted that the ruling party maintains its pre-eminent position and widest popularity and acceptance among Nigerians across the country.
The ruling party further urged the leaders of the mega opposition party to focus on issues and engage in more robust debates on the economy and that, with the registration of the APC, Nigerians now expect the leaders of the opposition party to eschew all forms of bitterness and desperation and desist from politics of propaganda which characterised their former parties.
The party said, “We hope to see a vibrant opposition that will constructively engage the
PDP on issues of governance in a way that Nigerians will be the utmost beneficiaries instead of overheating the polity by promoting violence and hatred among the people”.
Stressing that the APC poses no threat to it, PDP said it “will continue to maintain its preeminent position in the polity”, adding that it remained the party with the widest acceptance and popularity among Nigerians across the board.
 The ruling party noted that Nigerians are not deceived by the change of flag by the opposition. It said such does not remove their “dictatorial tendencies and penchant for deceit and propaganda for which Nigerians have rejected them irrespective of party name”. 
APC registration marks end to one-party state - CNPP
But the Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) said the registration of APC has signified the death of one-party state in Nigeria and taken the nation’s democracy to the next level.
According to the spokesman of the CNPP, Osita Okechukwu, in a statement, “Nigerians now have a golden opportunity to make choice between two dominant political parties: one anchored on social democracy, pro-people; and one anchored on conservative and anti-people programmes as is the case in all liberal democracies.”
It congratulated INEC on its forthrightness, steadfastness and obedience to the rule of law.
 “It is heart-warming that INEC captured the intendment of the 1999 constitution not to register phony groups or mischief makers as political parties,” CNPP said. 
Ribadu calls for renewed commitment   
A chieftain of the newly registered APC, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, has joined other Nigerians in expressing happiness over the emergence of the mega opposition party, even as he charged members of the party to strive harder for the ultimate goal of dislodging the ruling PDP.
Ribadu, in a statement in Abuja, congratulated key players in the merged parties on “shoving their personal interests in order to allow for mutation of a pan-Nigerian party that can provide credible alternative to the ruling party”.
A statement, issued by Ribadu’s media aide, Abdulaziz Abdulaziz, quoted the 2011 presidential candidate of the ACN expressing hope that the new party would have sweeping victory come next general election.
“Like millions of Nigerians from all over the country, I am immensely delighted over the successful registration of our party by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC),” Ribadu said.
According to him, the registration of the party by the electoral body is not the end. “It is the beginning of the end of misrule and cluelessness,” he said, calling for renewed zeal and commitment by members of the party to achieve the desired objective.
He called on Nigerians to resist manipulations of the electoral process either through whipping up religious or sectional sentiments or by the use of money, maintaining that the 2015 elections would be a major litmus test for the opposition and all progressive Nigerians. 
Fashola reacts
Also speaking over the registration of the APC, Lagos State governor Babatunde Fashola (SAN) said, “This is not just a merger. It is history. The first merger in Nigeria. I am proud to have been a part of it.” 
Osun government happy
 Osun State government has commended INEC for rising above partisanship by registering the APC.
In a statement issued by the state commissioner for information and strategy, Mr Sunday Akere, it said the new party becomes a necessity because of the alleged torment the PDP threw Nigeria into since the inception of the Fourth Republic.
The statement said that leaders of the merging political parties have demonstrated high sense of commitment to the Nigeria project by burying their differences to liberate the masses from the present conundrum the ruling party has subjected the country.
It added that the eventual registration of the party is a victory for democracy and a victory for the masses who have long sought an alternative to the PDP.
 “This development has shown that Nigerians demand changes and nothing can stop them from achieving it. Many detractors have stood on the way of APC trying to stop its registration, but now their bid has failed. INEC has shown courage and a new party is born,” it added. “The leaders of the new party have demonstrated their commitment to the future of this country and have also shown that individual differences cannot be a cog in the wheel of Nigeria’s progress. The onus is now on Nigerians to embrace change for the sake of the future generations.
“It is our belief that the electoral body has passed the acid test; as a government, we urge it to continue to toe the path of courage and integrity by giving Nigerians the right to freely choose their leaders through a free and fair election during the forthcoming gubernatorial elections in Anambra, Ekiti and Osun states in 2014 and the general elections in 2015.” 
Belgore excited
The registration of APC brings a new dawn to Nigeria’s democratic experiment, the Kwara State ACN gubernatorial candidate in the 2011 elections, Dele Belgore, has said.
In a statement by his media aide, Rafiu Ajakaiye, he added that the APC registration”is a victory for the people of Nigeria who have long clamoured for the coming together of progressive opposition parties to end the years of disrespect for popular wish, executive lawlessness, corruption and widespread poverty, irrespective of the fact that the country is richly blessed with fertile land and huge human potential”.
“For us in Kwara, it is a dream come true as APC would further strengthen our collective efforts to end the state’s peculiar politics of underdevelopment, poverty and self-aggrandisement. It is a moment of joy for all the progressive elements waiting in the wings to work together as brothers in the selfless bid to build a new Kwara, one that would shed the toga of being a fiefdom and be seen as a place where individual potential blossoms without any let or hindrance,” Belgore noted. 
Lagos Assembly hails INEC
The Lagos State House of Assembly has applauded INEC for upholding the tenets of the rule of law and democratic ethos as demonstrated by its registration of the largest and most formidable opposition party in the country, the APC.
Reacting to the news of the APC’s registration, the spokesperson of the House and chairman, House Committee on Information, Strategy, Security and Publicity, Hon. Segun Olulade, stressed that the registration of the APC has further widened the political space for the opposition forces in Nigeria, adding that enhancement of a stable and strong opposition is one of the basic conditions for sustainable democracy and development in any polity.
 Olulade maintained that the hallmark of an electoral umpire which INEC represents is to provide a level playing field for all contesting parties without fear or favour and to ensure that electoral activities are not marred by irregularities, adding that democracy can never thrive without electoral integrity. 
Jubilation galore in Enugu
 There was celebration galore yesterday in Enugu State over the registration of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as a party.
Our correspondent who went round the city saw people discussing the issue in groups.
It was also discovered that some people smiled to drinking joints to celebrate the birth of APC.
In his reaction, the senatorial candidate of the ACN in the last general election in Enugu West senatorial zone, Dr Ben Nwoye, said the registration calls for celebration because it was the beginning of a new dawn in the nation’s democracy.
He commended the national chairman of the INEC, Professor Attahiru Jega, for his boldness, saying with the development the coast is now clear for the opposition party to wrest power from PDP in Enugu State and at the federal level.
Also reacting to the development, a former auditor-general of the PDP, Barrister Ray Nnaji, said it was a good development for democracy. He, however, said though they welcomed the new party, the PDP was not afraid of it.
 Mr Innocent Ekeh, a prominent member of the opposition, said, “We are happy that, at last, the APC has been registered. The emergence of the new party would help to nip the cankerworm called PDP in the bud.
“We are tired of the PDP and we are hopeful that PDP would soon go into extinction. PDP has destroyed Nigeria since its emergence. We are tired of the party and that is why we are celebrating.” 
Reactions galore
A PDP chieftain, Ebenezer Babatope, said that the registration of APC will not pose a threat to the PDP. He however described the merger as the first successful merger in the political history of Nigeria.
Babatope disclosed this in a telephone interview on Wednesday but added that the party is made up of strange bedfellows.
“So we in the PDP are ready for them;  we will tolerate them but work assiduously to ensure that people’s support for our party is not affected, so that, at the end of the day, the so-called APC will vanish into political oblivion,” he said.
 The PDP gubernatorial aspirant in Osun State, Alhaji Fatai Akingbade, said the registration is a welcome development, adding that the party has crossed another political hurdle.
 According to him, “the registration will strengthen our democracy because without a strong opposition democracy cannot survive”.
Alhaji Akingbade added that the registration will also put an end to armchair politics in Nigeria.
For his part, the chairman, Yaba LCDA, Jide Jimoh, described the registration as long expected.
Jimoh said, “I am not surprised at the registration of the new party because our leaders are people with requisite political experience, astuteness and proficiency who are well-grounded in the fields of politics and law. They have dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s. In short, they did all that was required long ago.”
 According to him, “even the assessment team of INEC gave the party kudos during their assessment tour. So, INEC registration was a given”.
 On people’s expectations from APC, Hon. Jide Jimoh said Nigerians had long yearned for change which has now come with APC, adding the PDP is in for a big problem come 2015.
“They should just pack their bags and baggage and be ready to leave Aso Rock after the general elections in 2015,” he said. “Surely, APC is taking over the federal government in 2015. The people will ensure that.”
 A Lagos lawmaker, Hon. Ajibayo Adeyeye, said that it is a welcome development and a good thing for Nigeria. “Those of us that formed the merger are progressive people and, with this development, the 2015 election will yield a good result.”
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