As the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) yesterday held its last national convention in Lagos to pave way for merger with other parties, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to play the role of an unbiased umpire in the merger.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) is formed by the merger of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), led by former head of state, General Muhammad Buhari (retd); All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), led by the first civilian governor of Abia State, Chief Ogbonnaya Onu; Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), led by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and a faction of All Progressive Peoples Alliance (APGA), led by the Governor of Imo State, Owelle Rochas Okorocha.
In his remarks, Governor Fashola said playing the role of a true and unbiased umpire in the merger plan would not only be in the interest of the commission to clear itself of any prejudice but also in the national interest as a result of the benefits that would accrue from a successful merger of the parties.
The governor, who recalled that at the start of discussions about the merger of the parties, there was a posting on the website which insinuated that the ruling party was colluding with INEC to frustrate the plan, said it would be in the interest of the commission to prove that the insinuation was untrue.
According to the governor, “when the discussions about this merger started, there was an interesting posting on the website that while ANPP, ACN, CPC and APGA-APGA were merging, the ruling party was trying to merge with the umpire. As insignificant as it seems, it is a serious issue.”
To the officials of INEC, who were at the convention to witness the proceedings, Governor Fashola declared, “to them I say that they have a duty now to rise above board like Caesar’s wife and dispel that role. It is in their interest and in the national interest to show that they are true and unbiased umpires; to show that a merger is possible and to do everything by way of official and legitimate support to ensure that this merger is delivered.”
On the plans of the ruling party for the next elections, Governor Fashola said: “We are beginning to hear from the ruling party the number of states that they are going to win even before the dates for the next elections have been fixed. I say that the most successful football club in the world does not know how many goals it will score against it weakest opponent unless it has reached an agreement with the referee.
“As if that was not bad enough, we are already hearing also from them that they will go back to do what they always know how to do best,” Fashola said adding, however, “but this time, it will not happen.”
He assured that in 2015, APC would provide “real test of choice for the mythical powers of the ruling party expressed by the sovereign will of the Nigerian people,” adding, “there is a vehicle of choice, the All Progressives Congress of Nigeria, let the people of Nigeria come and decide, which choice, which vehicle, which programmes best articulate their hopes and aspirations. I believe that the APC will provide that choice.”