by Dare Lawal
Speculations are rife that the African Peoples Congress, the party slugging it out with the All Progressives Congress over rights for the acronym ‘APC’ is actually a PDP contraption designed to frustrate the merger of the opposition parties.
That view is shared by most commentators, by opposition politicians, and by activists. The PDP however, strongly denies the assertion, describing it as “unfounded, spurious and vexatious.”
On the issue of the contentious pardon of former Bayelsa governor, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, the PDP said it had nothing to say on the matter. Speaking on behalf of the party, its national publicity secretary, Olisa Metuh, said that the issue has not been discussed with the NWC of the party.
“I must inform you that the NWC has not discussed this issue. As other Nigerians, we have been informed about the decision of the Federal Government and as such, the party will not comment on the issue,” he said.
Debunking the alleged rumours of the PDP’s involvement in frustrating the opposition merger, Metuh said:
“To the best of our knowledge, no member of the PDP is involved in the formation of any other political organization, neither are we interested in the activities of any other Party. The alleged involvement of one Ugochinyere Imo Ikenga in the formation of the other APC has no bearing whatsoever on us.
“From our findings, Mr Ikenga’s recent activities, including his unsavoury attacks and illicit campaign for the dissolution of the the Bamanga Tukur led National Working Committee makes him an estranged fellow and therefore can never be an agent of the PDP in anyway.”
The activity Metuh which Metuh was referring to in his statement, involved a certain Ugochinyere Ikenga. Ikenga is believed to be the man behind the scenes pushing the APC acronym brouhaha and who paid the lawyer, Nwokorie Samuel Chinedu that filed the letter of intent with INEC. Ikenga has described himself as a card carrying member of the PDP in the past.
Sometime in March 2012, he had approached a Federal High Court in Lagos to stop the current PDP chairman, Bamanga Tukur, from vying for the position of party chairman.
According to a report by Premium Times:
Apart from instituting the court action, Mr. Ikenga also led a protest to the Wadata Plaza secretariat of the party, to press home their demand for the disqualification of Mr. Tukur.
Before challenging the emergence of Mr. Tukur, Mr. Ikenga had also gone to court to seek to stop the emergence of a former National Chairman of the party, Okwesiliezi Nwodo from assuming office.
Mr. Ikenga filed a suit filed at the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, on June, 9/2010 asking for an order of interlocutory injunction restraining the PDP or its agents from appointing Mr. Nwodo as the Party’s National Chairman.
That same report revealed that Ikenga’s hatchet jobs did not just begin. For instance:
Mr. Ikenga had also attempted to force the extension of the tenure of former chairman of INEC, Maurice Iwu, at a time Nigerians were unanimous in their call for the professor’s sack from the electoral body.
Mr. Ikenga had on April 2, 2010 led three ‘pro-democracy groups’ to the National Assembly to stage a rally seeking for tenure extension for Mr. Iwu.
The three groups, the Alliance for Defence of Democracy, National Youth Coalition for Progressive Transformation and the Northern Patriotic Forum went to the Assembly to request for extension for Mr. Iwu “to enable him to conduct the 2011 general elections”.
“Electoral process can only be consolidated where there is continuity in leadership,” Mr. Ikenga said in his address at the rally.
He argued that section 157 of the 1999 Constitution made provision for the re-appointment of the INEC chairman, “so why are people crying even when the chairman has two months to go,” he said.
The PDP publicity secretary denied that his party currently has any association with Ikenga, although he did not mention him (Ikenga) by name in the statement.
Furthermore, the PDP said that
“Contrary to the allegations in the reports, the PDP email address has never been made available to any external body for the purpose of disseminating information. For emphasis, the PDP did not at anytime use it’s email address to circulate the so called APC’s press statement of 15th March 2013.”
On the current acronym crisis bedevilling the APC, the PDP had its own theory on who was culpable. In the statement, the party said it strongly suspects that “the current drama on ownership of name may have been contrived by the ACN to attract attention to themselves and earn undue sympathy.
“This plot has played out in the sudden emergence and withdrawal of a third group bearing the acronym APC. The question is, could the merger group be creating a scenario where they would compete within themselves and claim “victory” after overheating the polity with phantom parties? The capacity of our opposition for mischief has never been in doubt. We will not be surprised to find out at the end of the day that the merger parties are behind this needless crisis.
“The PDP doesn’t feel threatened by the emergence of any group. We have no cause to frustrate any alliance as we have always defeated such coalitions in the recent past. The PDP remains focused on strengthening its bond with the Nigerian people and will not be distracted by self inflicted chaos among a rudderless group without an agenda of service to the Nigerian people,” the statement said.