by Stanley Azuakola
What’s in an acronym? Answer: A whole lot – just ask the APC. Yeah, any of them.
The fate of the much hyped, long awaited merged opposition party, All Progressive Congress hangs in a precarious balance. That’s because while that party declared victory in the war after winning just one battle, some forces, allegedly the PDP, worked silently behind the scenes to put a spanner in their works.
The attempt might have yielded fruit as the nation’s electoral body, INEC, has confirmed that there is another party, the African Peoples Congress (APC) which has filed papers for registration with it.
The absolute damper for members and sympathisers of the Buhari/Tinubu/Shekarau APC is that they have not even filed any application yet with INEC.
The INEC secretary, Kayode Idowu, confirmed this. Idowu said while the lesser known APC had filed it’s registration with the commission but was yet to fulfil certain conditions, the more popular APC had not had any contact with INEC who have only heard about them on the pages of newspapers as well.
The promoters of this new APC are unknown and have refused to disclose their identities. The INEC secretary also said that he was not at liberty to disclose the backers. It is for this reason that it is believed the PDP is behind the subtle moves to outflank the All Progressive Congress and delay their merger. After all, the identity of the backers of a party should never be hidden, since the nature of party politics is that they would have to solicit for votes.
For obvious reasons, it is impossible for INEC to register two political parties which bear the same acronym. The rule says no two parties with same acronym can compete in same election.
The secretary of the PDP’s Board of Trustees, Senator Jubril Walid, has denied the allegation that the PDP was behind the move to register the new grouping.
“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.
The CNPP, through its national publicity secretary kicked against the new party and INEC’s refusal to disclose the promoters. He advised INEC “to resist the temptation of PDP’s covert move to register the APC, for prior to February 6, 2013 when the All Progressives Congress (APC) was formed, there was no such application in INEC.” Okechukwu said that the “PDP’s intention to register African Peoples Congress was ignoble, subversive and meant to forestall the registration of the authentic APC, based on the flimsy argument that both possess the same acronym.”
He said further in his statement that: “CNPP needs to remind INEC that PDP’s intendment is to foist one party state on Nigeria and rule uninterrupted for 60 years, with or without performance.
“Consequently, we challenge INEC to publish the names of the promoters of African Peoples Congress to prove that it is not as alleged in merger with PDP. The INEC should also go further to investigate the allegation that the proposed APC is being floated by the PDP as a way of foisting one party system on the country.”
The INEC secretary disagreed with all those who were trying to loop INEC with the plot to register the new APC and accusing the commission of taking sides. He said:
“When you say INEC is being accused to have taken sides with the PDP, how does that make sense to you since part of the requirement of the law is not that if somebody applies, that INEC should come in the open and announce that this is the person behind it?
“The commission should not be used to fight political fight. When you are asking for the names of those behind it, the motive is to engage those people in a political fight. INEC is an impartial umpire and regulator. The law has itemised the criteria to be fulfilled to be registered as a party and INEC is indifferent to who has applied to be registered as a party so long as the criteria are right.
“There is a checklist, once we go through that checklist and you make it, INEC has no choice as it has to be registered and if we go through that checklist and you fall short, INEC has every power to say no, you have not met that requirement. That is INEC’s position. So, if a group comes up and says it wants to register a party with a name, what does INEC have to do with it? As we speak today, there is only one applicant.”
The application letter for the registration of the African Peoples Congress (APC), originated from the LEGAL WORLD CHAMBERS (Legal Practitioners). It was dated February 28, 2013, and addressed to the chairman of INEC.
The application which was signed by Barr. Nwokorie Samuel Chinedu 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.”
Some pundits are of the opinion that the All Progressive Congress rather than crying foul, go back to the drawing board and come back with something else, and maybe this time keep it secret until INEC has heard first. This is because whether the new party has the backing of the PDP or not, it is not against the law, it is simply politics. It might be crass, cowardly, subterfuge or even ignoble, but not illegal. In this game, it is fastest fingers first.