All Progressives Congress (APC) – the result of the merger of opposition parties – have been warned that the battle to stop its registration will fail.
Any attempt by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) not to register the new party, will be resisted, its leaders said yesterday in Abuja.
They vowed to guard APC jealously because it is their intellectual property.
They also said they had uncovered a plot by the Federal Government to destabilise the opposition and corrupt democratic institutions.
They claimed that a high-ranking government official had been furnished with huge resources from public funds for the anti-opposition project.
The parties made their position known at a news conference in Abuja by the Chairman of the Merger Committee of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Chief Tom Ikimi.
Ikimi, a former Minister of Foreign Affairs, was supported at the session by the Chairman of the Merger Committee of the ANPP, ex-Governor Ibrahim Shekarau; the Chairman of the Merger Committee of the CPC, Alhaji Garba M. Gadi; and a representative of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, Senator Annie Okonkwo.
Ikimi said the sudden emergence of a proxy APC was a “case of the hands of Esau but the voice of Jacob”.
He said: “For several weeks now, our country and indeed the whole world have been put on notice about the decision of our three registered political parties namely Action Congress of Nigeria(ACN), All Nigeria Peoples Party(ANPP) and Congress for Progressive Change(CPC) – to merge into one formidable party, for the purpose, among others, of accentuating political competitiveness, providing a viable alternative political platform and promoting the much-needed political change in the governance of our dear country, Nigeria.
“Pursuant to the said decision and following a meeting of the accredited delegates and leaders of the merging parties, we addressed a world news conference in Abuja on the 6th of February, 2013.
“During the news conference, we announced the unanimous agreement of the parties to merge under a new name, the All Progressives Congress (APC). The name and acronym have, therefore, become the Intellectual Property of the merging parties since the 6th of February 2013 and it has received very wide publicity in the print and electronic media.
“All legal and constitutional processes required to formalise the merger and register our new party with INEC in the name of All Progressives Congress(APC) are already in progress, in top gear and include our earlier announcement on the 6th of February 2013 of the decision of the three parties to merge.
“Prior to the adoption of the name, we had carried out a careful search of the existing names of all political parties with extant registration in Nigeria and finding out that none had the name All Progressives Congress nor the acronym APC. We chose the name and unveiled it.
“Thus by that public announcement, the name All Progressives Congress and the acronym, APC, became our intellectual property which we shall guard jealously.”
Ikimi said the merging parties were shocked that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) could announce receipt of a letter from a faceless and unknown political group.
He added: “It has, therefore, come to us as a shock that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) would announce receipt of a letter from what is now known to be a faceless and unknown political group, ostensibly driven by sheer mischief purporting to request for registration with the name, African Peoples Congress.
“The obvious motive of this letter is to attempt, albeit in futility, to scuttle the registration of the All Progressives Congress, which has been so widely publicised and well received to the discomfort of the establishment.
“Besides the fact that the offensive letter emanated from Legal World Chambers of a fake address and its alleged author, the so-called Barrister Nwokorie Samuel Chinedu have been shown to be of dubious existence, the date on the letter, 28 of February 2013, 22 days after we published our name and acronym, a fact that INEC cannot pretend not to be aware of.
“In any case, the provision of the relevant laws makes it mandatory that an application for registration of a political party is made by a political association and not a so-called law firm as in this case.
“Nigeria’s political history is replete with instances of all manner of busybodies who have been known to take actions, legal or otherwise, with the intent of causing mischief, precipitate chaos, compromise political stability and subject Nigeria to international ridicule
“We would like to state unequivocally that this sort of unsavoury behaviour is no longer fashionable.
“Nigeria has since moved beyond such gimmicks and shenanigans of political jobbers and agent provocateurs, who do not mean well for the country, save insofar as they are able to collect hefty fees for the confusion that they breed.”
The merger leaders also claimed that they have uncovered a plot by the Federal Government to destabilize the opposition.
Ikimi said a high-ranking government official had been “furnished with unlimited resources to corrupt democratic institutions.
He added: “Unfortunately, we have it on good authority that the establishment, gravely troubled by the emergence of a united opposition, has set up a high powered team headed by a very high ranking officer of government and furnished with unlimited resources from public funds with a clear mandate to corrupt the democratic institutions and destabilise the opposition.
“In the circumstance, our message is very clear. We have informed the whole world of our decision to merge under the name, All Progressives Congress, with the acronym, APC. We are determined to pursue the process to its logical conclusion in the interest of our dear fatherland. The feeble attempt by any other entity to pretend to use the same acronym is an exercise in futility, which must fail because it amounts to what, in law, is called Passing-Off.
“We have taken the pains to furnish the foregoing facts because we will not accept any attempt by INEC, relying on a dubious application clearly not in compliance with the conditions set out in the Constitution or the Electoral Act, to scuttle our plans to formalise our merger under our adopted name and acronym. We challenge the cowards behind the so called African Peoples Congress to come forth and defend their position or forever hold their peace. On our part, the three political parties, part of APGA and others seeking to merge are steadily and resolutely taking all the steps necessary for the merger as provided under the Constitution and the Electoral Act. We have elected representatives in all tiers of Government.
“We have written to INEC about this ugly development, with the hope that INEC would not allow its credibility to be further undermined by political hirelings and their faceless sponsors who appear determined to truncate the democratic process. It is clearly a case of “the hands of Esau but the voice of Jacob”.
“We consider it necessary to remind all Nigerians of the sequence of events from February 6, 2013 when we announced to the world our decision to merge. On the same 6th of February 2013, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) through their spokesperson acknowledged our decision in THISDAY Online Edition. Again on February 17, 2013, in the PUNCH Newspaper, the same spokesperson of INEC advised on the appropriate steps to be taken in order to consummate the merger. He further maintained that as at that date there was no political party existing with the name All Progressives Congress or the acronym APC.
“It is important to reiterate that over and above the collective correspondences the merging parties sent to INEC, each of them has communicated to INEC the assurances that the processes stipulated in the Electoral Act are accordingly ongoing towards the consummation of the merger.
“We thank all Nigerians and the International Community for the wonderful support they have accorded us since the announcement of our intention to merge and we solemnly pledge our irrevocable commitment to democratic ideals and the enthronement of good governance in our beloved country Nigeria.”