INEC said it acted lawfully in receiving an application for another APC.
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, may not to be in a hurry to end the raging controversy over the sudden emergence of a new political association, African Peoples Congress, APC, which approached it for registration as a political party.
African Peoples Congress shares the same acronym, APC, with the All Progressive Congress, the product of the February 6 merger talks of four political parties: Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN; All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP; Congress for Progressive Change, CPC; and a faction of the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA.
INEC confirmed to PREMIUM TIMES that African People’s Congress applied to it for registration last week as a political party, using the same acronym as All Peoples Congress, which is yet to file for registration.
The electoral body, however, did not name those promoting the new party.
Kayode Idowu, the Chief Press Secretary to the INEC chairman, in response to our question on who the promoters of African Peoples’ Congress are, merely said a lawyer filed the application for its registration last week.
He did not disclose the identity of the lawyer who many critics alleged is an agent of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, bent on scuttling the registration of All Progressive Congress.
“A lawyer came last week to file application for the registration of African Peoples Congress,” he said in a telephone interview.
Mr. Idowu, who said INEC did not have the All Progressive Congress on its lists of associations awaiting registration before the lawyer came, wondered why some Nigerians have resorted to politicizing the issue.
He argued that as a commission which has the constitutional mandate to register parties, is not in a position to deny the promoters of a prospective party the right to registration, on the grounds that a similar name had been considered by another group yet to file for listing.
The Commission would be seen to be partisan should it do so, Mr. Idowu added.
Mr. Idowu explained that INEC is only a regulator that follows the stipulated law in discharging its functions.
“INEC is only a regulator. INEC’s role is to implement the law; INEC does not make the law,” he said.
“People are only politicizing this. If someone goes to Corporate Affairs Commission to register a company, is the CAC supposed to say they heard other people mention that name and such should not carry out its functions?”
Under the amended Electoral Act, INEC has up to 90 days from the date of the filing, to respond to the new group whether it approves or not, its decision to emerge be registered party under the name acronym, APC.
Should the commission fail to respond where the group meets stipulated requirements, the party would be deemed to have been formed, the Electoral Act states.
Promoters of the All Progressive Congress had cried out weekend that the emergence of the African Peoples Congress is a plot to deny it registration.
Some chieftains of the merging CPC, ACN, and ANPP, threatened mass action if the proposed alliance was not registered as a political party by INEC.
Sani Yarima, former governor of Zamfara State and senator representing Zamfara West Senatorial District, was briefly detained last weekend for threatening mass action if the association was not registered.
Former Minister of FCT and a senior member of CPC, Nasir el-Rufai, also raised alarm over the alleged move to frustrate the registration of All Progressive Congress.
Accusing fingers have been variously directed at the PDP for plotting to stop the registration of the All Progressive Congress.
The coalition of opposition parties in the country, Conference of Nigerian Political Parties, CNPP, said the coming up of African Peoples Congress as a political association, at the time the All Progressive Congress was birthed last month is a ploy by the PDP to frustrate the coming together of opposition in the country.
But the PDP national leadership has denied the allegation. Olisa Metuh, the spokesperson of the PDP said on Wednesday that it would be unfair and unjust for the opposition to place the blame of their inadequacies on the ruling party.
“It is unfair to accuse an opponent of your inadequacies, of your negligence, of your incompetence. If you are not serious-minded and you are not organized, you cannot accuse your opponent of your failings,” Mr. Metuh said.
He accused All Progressive Congress members of dramatizing their merger, adding that they have not told Nigerians that they are merging to provide them good leadership.