With its victory in the acronym “war” almost certain, the All Progressives Congress is set to meet in Abuja on Thursday, April 4, to take a final decision on all the documents that will accompany its application for registration to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
The meeting will draw attendees from the national leaderships of the four merging parties and the Joint Inter-Party Merger Committee, JIMC, which is coordinating the merger deal. The parties are Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN; Congress for Progressive Change, CPC; All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, and; a faction of the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA.
The JIMC had earlier in the month set up three subcommittees, comprising 20 members each, to design the association’s constitution, manifesto, logo and slogan as well as determine and examine all legal issues that will ensure full compliance with all legal issues relating to the process of merger.
A member of the Merger Committee told PREMIUM TIMES in confidence on Thursday that the meeting will centre largely on the constitution of the APC and agreements/understanding among the merging parties. The Constitution Subcommittee had a Herculean Task of examining the constitutions of all the four parties in order to produce a common constitution agreeable to the partners, the source said.
The source added that after the meeting, the parties in the merger deal will hold their respective national conventions where the documents will be approved by their members.
“That meeting will finalize everything relating to the merger and thereafter the parties will convene their national conventions,” he added.
“At the conventions, each party will formally inform their members that they are going into merger and that the current identities of the parties will cease because their certificates will be cancelled. The certificates will be returned to INEC and those parties will cease to be known by their current names. It is after the convention that the interim officials will be picked for the purpose of INEC’s registration requirements and afterwards the substantive officers,” the source said.
It was further gathered that in order to minimize contentions among the merging parties, two positions are already being canvassed by a section of the JIMC for choosing the members of the interim and substantive members of the association’s organs such as the National Working Committee (NWC), National Executive Council (NEC), and Board of Trustees (BoT) of the association, both at the national and state levels.
One of the modalities being canvassed, our source disclosed, is that the choice of the national officers should be based on the result of the 2011 presidential election while that of the state officials should be based on the results of the governorship elections.
If this first option is eventually adopted, CPC which polled the highest number of votes among the merging parties during the 2011 presidential election may produce the national chairman while the deputy chairman or secretary may emerge from ACN.
According to the presidential result declared by INEC, CPC’s candidate polled 12, 214, 835 votes; ACN, 2,079,151 and; ANPP, 917,012. APGA did not present a candidate in that election.
The second option is that the choice of the officials at the national level should be based on the numerical strength of each of the parties at the National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly.
If the second position is eventually adopted, the ACN may produce the chairman of the association since it has the highest number of members in the National Assembly while the CPC, which has the second highest number of seats, may pick the position of the deputy national chairman or national secretary.
If similar modality is adopted in picking the state officials of the proposed party, the ACN which is in control of six states (executive and legislature) will produce the key officials in Lagos, Ogun, Osun, Oyo, Ekiti and Edo State. The CPC will produce key party officials in Nasarawa State and perhaps in Niger and Katsina States where it is visible.
On its part, ANPP will produce the key officials in Borno, Yobe and Zamfara States.
Furthermore, the performance of each party in the governorship election will determine which of them will produce the chairmen of the association in the states where all four are not visible or did not win elections.
The APGA Conundrum:
However, it is not clear how APGA will be factored into the arrangement if any of the two modalities is adopted either at next week’s meeting or subsequent ones after the conventions of the merging parties.
The party did not present candidate in the 2011 presidential election. Worse still, the only APGA governor identifying with the merger deal, Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, appears not to be on the same page with the two factions of the party.
Both the faction led by Victor Umeh who was deposed by an Enugu High Court as the national chairman in February and the other one led by Maxi Okwu and supported by the Anambra State Governor (also a member of the party), have dissociated themselves since from the merger deal.
However, if the second option is adopted, it is only in Imo State where Mr. Okorocha holds sway that APGA will present the key officials of the association or party as the case may be.
A member of the Constitution Drafting Sub-Committee, John Oyegun, confirmed the April 4 meeting to PREMIUM TIMES in a telephone interview. He, however, denied that the issue of picking interim officials is already on the table.
“No, we have not got to that stage (choice of officials). That is not our priority now. We will not discuss that until after the conventions,” the former Edo State Governor said.