Senior officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission met on Thursday in Abuja over the All Progressives Congress’ application for registration. This is the meeting’s debrief.
The resolution, as shown in the minutes of the meeting is that the three merging parties – the Action Congress of Nigeria, Congress for Progressive Change and All Nigeria Peoples Party – should look for another name if their merger application would sail through.
This has reportedly created a new wave of apprehension within the ranks of the merging parties and they view it as yet another plot to scuttle the merger.
A reliable source within the opposition who confirmed this new twist in the APC’s registration process, told ThisDay that INEC based its decision on the pending court case instituted by one of the rival political associations, the African People’s Congress challenging the APC application.
“We heard that INEC at its last meeting on our registration resolved to contact us through a letter that would be sent to us on Monday to inform us that they cannot finalize our registration because the issue of the acronym is in court and then advise us to look for another name.
“This is a plot not to register us and it is an afterthought. Part of the plot is to ensure that nothing happens until September because the courts are going on vacation,” the source who pleaded for anonymity added.
The APC source said, “The truth is no court or judge has barred INEC from registering the APC. It is just court filings by a lawyer of a group.
The source also hinted that INEC picked Monday to send the letter, “in order to beat the 30-day deadline spelt out in the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), which would have automatically conferred registration on APC.”
Section 84 (4) of the Electoral Act stipulates that: “On receipt of the request for merger of political parties, the commission shall consider the request and, if the parties have fulfilled the requirements, of the Constitution and this Act, approve the proposed merger and communicate its decision to the parties concerned before the expiration of 30 days from the date of the receipt of the formal request.
“Provided that the commission fails to communicate its decision within 30 days the merger shall be deemed to be effective.”
All of these amount to sobering news for the APC. To them, INEC’s sudden change of heart on this matter is unwelcome and unacceptable. Hence, they will not take this lying down.
The ThisDay report says that party officials will kick against the decision of the electoral body to demand a change in their name on the grounds of a ‘mere’ notice of a court case without any backing injunction or pronouncement.
It will be recalled that barely a week after the opposition had approached INEC for the registration of the APC, a rival group, the All Progressive Congress of Nigeria (APCN) threatened to sue the commission for daring to register any group with the acronym, APC.
Listening to INEC spokesman, Kayode Idowu on this issue, you’d be forced to think that the opposition is dreaming.
“The commission conducts its affairs based on the provisions of the law and not on speculation. If anybody said a letter had been written asking the merging parties to change the name of APC, then that person should produce such a letter.”