…Opposition unveils All Progressives Congress to sack PDP in 2015
•Anambra APGA kicks, as Tukur dismisses alliance
From TAIWO AMODU, Abuja and DOM EKPUNOBI, Onitsha
A new opposition party emerged yesterday. It is called All Progressives Congress (APC), midwifed by the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP). It is a consummation of the merger talks among the main opposition parties.
At a Press conference yesterday in Abuja, Chief Tom Ikimi, Alhaji Garba Mohammed Gadi and former Kano State governor, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, all chairmen of the merger committees set up by the three parties, announced the formation of APC. Senator Annie Okonkwo represented the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). In attendance at the briefing were governors, federal lawmakers and chieftains of the parties involved.
But the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, dismissed the merger, saying it is a sign of weakness by the opposition parties. Chief Ikimi told reporters that the merger was informed by the resolve to form a political party committed to the principles of internal democracy, focused on serious issues of concern to our people, determined to bring corruption and insecurity to an end, determined to grow our economy and create jobs in their millions through education, housing, agriculture, industrial growth and stop the increasing mood of despair and hopelessness among our people.’’
Ikimi noted that the new party would serve as a catalyst for the restoration of peace and prosperity in the country.” The resolution of these issues, the restoration of hope, the enthronement of true democratic values for peace, democracy and justice are those concerns which propel us. We believe that by these measures only shall we restore our dignity and position of pre-eminence in the Comity of Nations.
This is our pledge.’’ While they were, however, silent on the logo of the new party and when it would be unveiled, Ikimi told journalists that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) would be formally informed in due course about the formation of the new political party.“We shall immediately communicate this decision to the appropriate authority, so that the process of registration could commence.’’
Reacting to the alliance, Tukur said it was indifferent to the new party, as he noted that the PDP remained the most formidable party in the country. “Beautiful! The more, the merrier. Let me tell you, there is no ward in the whole Nigeria where you do not have one member of PDP. PDP is the only party in the country that fields candidate in every polling booth in the country. “There is no polling booth in Nigeria where you will not find one member of PDP. We are the only party. That shows the acceptance. It is the only party in government now that is in the majority. It does not mean that we want to be a party and there is no opposition, in fact opposition is a charge to action.
If they have the strength, why do they come together? They (opposition parties) are no threat at all, it is better, it inspires PDP to action.’’ In what could be termed a crack in the alliance, APGA dissociated itself from the talks. Opposition to the merger came from the Anambra State chapter of APGA, saying, the party has stated categorically that it has not merged with any political party or group of parties. A statement issued yesterday by the Commissioner for Information, Chief Joemartins Uzodike, described the purported merger as a figment of the imagination of some people and therefore, null and void.
He said that APGA had neither gone into nor did it intend to go into any merger talks with any political party, let alone the ones mentioned in the merger. He stated that neither the National Executive Council (NEC) nor a National Convention of the party had been summoned to discuss or ratify any proposal for a merger. According to him, “APGA is a national party and is guided by both the Constitution and electoral laws of Nigeria.
“Furthermore, our governor, Mr. Peter Obi, has never mentioned any issue regarding APGA merging with any political party in the executive council meeting of the state either for discussion or for information as was His Excellency’s practice on issues of such importance and magnitude. “I have equally consulted with the state chairman of our party, Chief Mike Akunwata Kwentor and he is in total agreement with this assertion that APGA has not merged with any political party or parties.” Uzodike said that APGA was part and parcel of the Jonathan administration where the party enjoys ambassadorial and other executive appointments/privileges and should therefore, not be seen as working against the administration.
According to him, those who were clamouring for merger were only after their ego and self-aggrandizement. The APGA family, he said, could not be in a merger with parties whose manifestos, ideologies, beliefs, culture, ethics and conducts were not in tandem with that of APGA. The commissioner said it was regrettable that some of those championing APGA merger were people who could not boast of winning their wards in a political contest while some of them were those who masquerade their drivers as party chairmen in their states and their wives as women leaders.
He called on members of the public to disregard the so-called merger and go about their normal businesses. Meanwhile, attempts by Daily Sun to get the reaction of APGA Chairman, Chief Victor Umeh, yesterday were not successful as one of his aides refused to pick his calls. Daily Sun wanted Umeh to clarify the statement credited to Anambra State faction of APGA that Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, who represented the party at the merger talks was on his own even as it was learnt that the governor received Umeh’s nod to attend the meeting.