by Dare Lawal
Lost in the euphoria of his party’s registration by INEC, Babatunde Fashola, the governor of Lagos decided to publish an advertorial in some newspapers. In the advertorial, he listed the merging parties as the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and – controversially – the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).
APGA’s inclusion on that list is problematic as the party never showed any interest in joining the merger party.
Rochas Okorocha, the governor of Imo, who though elected on the platform of APGA, decided to romance with the APC organisers did not control the party machinery of APGA at the time. The national chairman then was Maxi Okwu, and he was loyal to Peter Obi, the Anambra governor who decided to have no part in the APC. Okwu has now been removed by the Appeal Court, but even Victor Umeh, who the Appeal Court reinstated as APGA chairman has no interest in being a part of the APC.
So naturally, the Fashola sponsored advert listing APGA and including its logo as one of the merging parties has caused a stir in the APGA ranks.
Umeh has threatened to sue if Fashola does not retract the said advert in the newspapers in 7 days. In addition, Umeh wants Fahola to pay his party, APGA, the sum of N2bn in damages. He addressed a press conference to that effect, describing the advert as premeditated, deceitful and fraudulent.
“Coming from a senior lawyer, we are sure that the governor knows the obvious implications of this advertorial which we detest. It is a mischief contrived to deceive all our teaming supporters in Nigeria and worldwide that APGA has now become part of the APC. Governor Fashola cannot claim not to know that APGA never submitted itself to any merger talks with the three parties(Action Congress of Nigeria, Congress for Progressive Change and All Nigeria Peoples Party) and other interest groups that came together to form the APC.
“He is aware that at no time did any APGA official appear in any meeting where merger talks were held. He is also aware that APGA leadership has consistently made it clear to Nigerians that it was never part of the merger talks and will never be a part of it.
“Surprisingly this (Thursday) morning, our party’s logo was so fraudulently inserted in an advertorial with the intention to deceive all our supporters.
“How could a SAN, who is also a governor of a state go and insert an APGA logo in a publication. We want to make it abundantly clear that this was a clearly orchestrated, premeditated action by Governor Fashola to deceive supporters of APGA. On behalf of our party, we are calling on Governor Fashola to publish a retraction of the advertorial removing APGA logo in all the newspapers that our logo appeared today (Thursday) within seven days.
“In addition to our demands for retraction of the publication, we are also referring the matter to our lawyers to formally write Governor Fashola to pay us N2bn in damages or face legal action.
“While we congratulate the APC for realising its dream of becoming a mega party called APC, fraudulently using APGA logo will not be accepted by our party. Politics of confusion must be avoided in Nigeria. Anybody can meet to do whatever he likes but it must be within the law. The process of merging of political parties is clearly known to everybody.
“ACN had its convention where they approved that they would become part of the APC. ANPP had a convention where its members also approved that they would become part of the APC; the same with the CPC. But APGA was not known to have organised any convention to approve joining the APC.”
Umeh also lent his voice to the ongoing controversy over the deportation of over 70 destitute persons from Lagos and dumping them in Onitsha in the middle of the night. He came with an even more controversial twist to the matter, saying that the deported people were not even Nigerians, but non-Nigerians planted by the APC to plan electoral malpractice during the forthcoming election in Anambra State.
Umeh warned that any attempt to use them to carry out electoral malpractice in the state would be resisted.