ANALYSIS: Amid crisis, Nigeria’s newest political parties in heightened preparations for first polls

In June, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) registered five more political parties, bringing the number of registered parties in Nigeria to 45.

The new parties are Young Progressive Party (YPP), Advanced Peoples Democratic Alliance (APDA), New Generation Party of Nigeria (NGP), All Democratic Peoples Movement (ADPM) and Action Democratic Party (ADP).

They were among the 95 political associations that applied for registration, according to the National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Adedeji Soyebi.

Mr. Soyebi also said while two of the associations had earlier withdrawn their applications voluntarily, the remaining 88 did not meet the requirements for registration.

In a follow up exercise, the Commission, on Wednesday, announced the registration of another party, the African Peoples Party (APP), bringing the number of registered parties in the country to 46.

How the new parties are faring?

NGP: Shopping for the right candidates to take over power at all levels

So far, the NGP has not betrayed the cause for which it was founded. The national secretariat of the party was bubbling with activities when PREMIUM TIMES visited.

The office is equipped with modern equipment as well as manpower, an indicating of its determination to stay afloat despite all odds.

Yakubu Shendam, its national chairman, told this newspaper that the party had set up some structures to ensure proper administration ahead of the polls in order to take over power at all levels, notably the presidency.

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“We have set up committees. It has national executive committee, national working committee as you can see some of them downstairs and we have our state chairmen across the 36 states and local government and ward levels,” he said.

“We are also setting up other committees to begin to marshal out plan on how we are going to prepare ourselves for the 2019 elections to take over the country at all levels.

“We are not limiting ourselves to any election. We are producing a president for 2019. We are already going round, touring and identifying people, those who we believe can actually take Nigeria to where it is supposed to be, those who can give us a nation, those who will sit down and think, those who have the time, those who will go back to the drawing board and plan what Nigeria is going to be in the next 10 years.

“So, we are looking forward to the 2019 elections and hoping that a candidate will emerge and the ultimate aim is to seize power at the centre.

Mr. Shendam explained that the party was founded to promote the quest by Nigerians for a generational shift in the polity and make the country a better place.

He lamented that past governments never kept their promises of making Nigeria a better nation in line with the dreams and aspirations of its founding fathers.

“Nigeria has remained more divided than united. Recently, we have heard of several sections of the country calling for secession – the IPOB, Arewa Youth, Oduduwa, South-South etc.

“That is to show that the leadership has failed this country and of course they are the same group of persons who contribute to recycling themselves till date and they keep telling us that we are leaders of tomorrow.”

Mr. Shendam said NGP was set to bring in new leadership, new ideas, new thinking and new direction “because we have been following a particular path for too long and the path is not yielding fruit for us.”

ADPM: Wooing like-minds ahead of the 2019 polls

At the David Jemibewon Crescent, Gudu District national secretariat of the ADPM, only a handful of staff were noticed working when PREMIUM TIMES visited. None of the officials of the party was around during the visit. The National Chairman, Okey Chikwendu, said he was attending a meeting of the IPAC.

However, speaking later on phone with our reporter, Mr. Chikwendu said activities in the party have since picked up since its registration unlike what it used to be when it was a mere association.

He said the party had started seeking partnership with like-minds, especially the youth groups, with a view to consolidating the party ahead of the 2019 elections.

“We are building up strategic relationship with different groups like Arise All African Youths. They are in about seven African countries today and in Nigeria, there about 73 institutions that they are present in. In the states, they are in about 31 states and from what I heard in the next two months they will have another two. So they have strength and they are the ears of the youth,” he said.

“We are trying to do things the right way. We are not looking for a party like a wild fire with moneybags’ funds; we are trying to do it, trying to identify with youths and candidates that are credible and have massive integrity.”

Mr. Chikwendu clarified that APDM does not share the same ideology with other political parties in Nigeria, insisting that it has a distinct ideological base.

“Most times people say political parties are having the same ideology. I don’t believe that because at least not our party. We have what we can come out to be known for. We don’t want to be known for wrong things.

YPP: Stabilising to transform Nigeria

As the name suggests, YPP is a party established to empower the youth, politically.

This party has a functional national secretariat located at Benue Crescent, Area 1, Garki District of the Federal Capital Territory from where it is plotting the replacement of the old order in the coming electoral contests.

Although, YPP national chairman, Bishop Amakiri, did not speak on the progress of the party when PREMIUM TIMES visited, information obtained from the party’s website said it was formed in line with the constitution of Nigeria, founded by people of like-minds upon social democratic principles and inclusive governance to provide a veritable platform for all Nigerians irrespective of the tribes and religion with special focus on young minds with active energy, skills, and innovation.

YPP said it has a mission to “qualitatively transform the Nigeria economy and society,” because of its tragic consequences of poverty and under-development.

The party said it would do this by enthroning “the Nigerian citizen as the prime resource of Nigeria, create a dynamic economy designed to serve the people’s interest, and in which the market forces are combined with forces of partnership, solidarity and cooperation to create and produce goods and services for the benefit of all.”

ADP: Promotes all-inclusive memberships

This party has a functional office located at Mungo Park Close in the highbrow Asokoro District of Abuja. The party has a full complement of an office.

Although not much has been heard of the ADP since its registration, the party is optimistic that it has come to stay.

According to the National Chairman of ADP, Yabayi Sani, the party’s membership is all-inclusive.

He said the platform would give the youth, women and the physically-challenged Nigerians to express themselves in the nation’s political space and contribute their own quota to the development of Nigeria.

“That is why we created 50 per cent of the executive position in our structure from wards up to the state level, up to the national level to be occupied by only these groups,” he told PREMIUM TIMES.

“We have also introduced the issue of people living with disabilities. They are now part of the structure and therefore nobody is disadvantaged. Our party is all inclusive.”

Mr. Sani expressed optimism that ADP would present candidates in future elections and win, especially those of the 2019 because it would have stabilized by that time.

He said, “There is no use to have a political party if you can’t win election. It is not a social club or cultural organisation. It is a party that is supposed to be for politics and to win elections. That is the objective of a political party, that is the essence and it is not for anything.

“So, if a political party cannot meet its essence there is no need for its existence. It should find another way to achieve what they want to achieve by aligning with other organisations. So I am totally behind that.”

APDA: Has potential to confront older parties but torn by crisis

Of the new parties, APDA appears to be the most prominent. This is understandable for two reasons.

First, it has some prominent politicians in its fold. Among them are the Proprietor of the African Independent Television (AIT), Raymond Dokpesi; the pioneer National Chairman of the Labour Party (LP), Dan Nwanyanwu and Mohammed Shittu, a former National Chairman of the Republican Party of Nigeria (RPN).

Mr. Shittu, who is the interim national chairman of the APDA, is a former chairman of the Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC), the umbrella body of all registered political parties in Nigeria. He was also the special adviser on interparty affairs to a former national chairman of the PDP, Bamanga Tukur.

Mr. Dokpesi indeed aspired to lead the PDP as national chairman before crisis broke out in the party in May 2016. While the crisis lasted, there were claims that APDA was floated to provide some member of the Ahmed Makarfi-led faction of the PDP a platform if it had lost its case against the Ali Modu Sheriff faction at the Supreme Court. The Makarfi faction however denied the claims.

Secondly, despite its freshness on the political scene, APDA, is already enmeshed in leadership crisis.  On August 8, loyalists of Dokpesi-led Board of Trustees of the party met in Abuja during which they announce the sack of Mr. Shittu-led Interim National Working Committee of the party and appointed a new one in its place headed by Mainasara Ilo.

According to Ibe Eguabor, who was appointed the new party’s spokesperson, the interim leadership was sacked because its tenure had expired on June 14.

“Three months expired on June 14; the meeting that held today was called by two-third members of the NEC of the party because of the failure of the national chairman to call a NEC meeting since this party was founded,” he told PREMIUM TIMES.

“Having noticed that their tenure had expired, it was incumbent on the NEC to nominate replacements. There are a lot of people who have resigned. Some others have gone back to the PDP and so there was a need to reposition and rebrand the party for the tasks ahead.”

But in response, Mr. Shittu-led NWC announced the suspension of Messrs. Dokpesi, Nwnyanwu and Ilo, and alleged the Dokpesi group was planning to destabilise the new party.

“Please, don’t mind Dr. Raymond Dokpesi. He is an impostor. They (Dokpesi, Nwanyanwu and Ilo) joined APDA with a lot of promises to support the party but they were being used by the PDP to break us apart,” he said.

“We knew we would have these charlatans who would want to hijack our party. It is unfortunate that politicians are still acting in this manner…..Dokpesi and his cohorts are political marketers. They are seeking to sell APDA to the PDP. Can you imagine how God has exposed them?

Regardless of the crisis, normal activities at the Abuja national secretariat of the new parties were on when PREMIUM TIMES visited.

Mr. Shittu said the party has offices in all the states of the federation as well as in the USA. Besides, he said it was already preparing for the 2019 general elections.

“We have Diaspora that are already working with us. We will participate in the 2019 election and we will win. We are very sure,” he said.

“We are not just a political party, we are also a political movement to change Nigeria for good. We want take Nigeria from nascent democracy to developed democracy and because of that we have introduced e-registration and e-payment.”

He said APDA, which he described as a party of young Nigerians and women, would restructure Nigeria if elected.

“We believe that Nigeria must be restructured for development. Our restructuring is to put food on the table of Nigerians. We believe in devolution of powers. We must look at the exclusive list and concurrent list.”

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