The All Nigeria Peoples Party [ANPP] notes the ongoing ploy by the Independent National Electoral Commission [INEC] to deflate the concerted efforts by the major opposition parties in Nigeria to come together under one umbrella. The current scheme to register a phantom party, the so-called African Peoples Congress [APC], in order to have a clash of acronyms with the All Progressives Congress [APC] is redolent of unpatriotic craftiness, an ill wind that blows nobody any good. With every passing hour, it becomes more glaringly obvious that the words of General Muhammadu Buhari [rtd], in a recent assertion that the Peoples Democratic Party [PDP] has merged with INEC, is actually an inconvenient truth.
There are a couple of incontrovertible reasons to show the unreasonableness of INEC in this matter. Firstly, INEC is a public institution whose paramount obligation is to serve the interest of the generality of Nigerians and not any government in power; thus, any body language from the electoral umpire to depict the contrary is tantamount to deserting the people in favour of a group of vested interests. The APC on February 6, 2013, publicly and officially announced its birth; days later, on February 28, a lawyer hastily filed a letter of intent, seeking ‘‘for approval to register African Peoples Congress, having carried out a search on the proposed name to the effect that no other political party registered bears same.’’
So, if the INEC arrogates importance and priority to this terse letter from a vague group over a pronounced political coalition, one does not need to dig far to smell a rat.
Secondly, why would Mr Kayode Idowu, Chief Press Secretary to the Commission’s Chairman, contradict himself in the media? Two days ago it was reported that he urged opposition parties in the APC to consider a new name and abbreviation to facilitate the registration of their group as a political party. Then the next day he denied ever saying that APC should look for a new name. Meanwhile, he went ahead to state that ‘‘if it [APC] meets the requirements of the law, the INEC has no choice but to register it. It is not INEC’s decision; the law says you must meet conditions 1,2,3,4 and once you do so, whether INEC likes your face or not, you must be registered.’’ The pertinent question is, does INEC love the face of the phantom African Peoples Congress so much that it has already accepted the group as a political party even without its fulfilling the required law, rules and regulations; to the extent that INEC desperately tries using the party as an excuse to truncate the opposition merger.
Thirdly, is it not puzzling that this same INEC which is currently, and aggressively, implementing a policy of deregistering non-performing political parties, is falling over itself to register a new party which has no iota of evidence to show that it can function as an association, not to talk of as a full-fledged political party. Which one is more sustainable, the APC of proven politicians with a teeming national membership or a phantom APC with no single member or known offices? Talk about an efficient INEC! Our great party is worried because Professor Attahiru Jega, in trying to please the ruling PDP, is heading towards bringing ridicule to his renowned intellectual pedigree, and in so doing bring our dear country to ridicule in the comity of nations.
Therefore, the ANPP calls on INEC to make recourse to reason, and good taste. INEC is not a political association, neither a private venture; it is a body supposed to stand for the interest of the people at all times. Our dear country, in these present precarious times, needs its organs of governance to be patriotic, sensible and fair. As a nation, we cannot afford to have emotions whipped up arbitrarily while making our polity more volatile than it is at present. All over the world, a general climate of discontent is a catalyst for revolution, and INEC is currently fanning this embers.