APC ready for PDP, other defectors, says Akande
Buhari: I’ll run if APC approves
Masari heads committeeProgressives took a major step yesterday in strengthening their new baby.
They set up a committee, headed by former House of Representatives Speaker Aminu Bello Masari, to build a structure for the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The National Chairman of the party’s Interim National Executive Committee, Chief Bisi Akande, broke the news.
But he disappointed those eager to know the party’s presidential and governorship candidates for the 2015 polls.
He said the party was ready to draw members from all groups, including the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
He said if President Goodluck Jonathan was fed up with the crisis in PDP, he is free to join the APC.
Akande, who spoke at a briefing after the maiden meeting of the APC Interim NEC in Abuja, admitted that Nigeria was politically drifting towards a two-party system.
He said: “We listened to some people talking about presidency, talking about governors; we have not reached that stage at all. Our major preoccupation is to set up the structure of our party – the All Progressives Congress.
“It is after that, maybe in November or December when we hold our national convention where our national executives will be elected; there is no idea about who becomes president or who becomes a governor.
“But the only exemption is Anambra State where the committee is already working on that.
“We are going to register our members in Anambra State, we are going to conduct congresses and we are going to elect a candidate that will contest on the platform of the All Progressives Congress. I think these are the very few things I have to tell you that we did at today’s meeting.”
Akande said several committees were set up to advise the party on how to go about the elections in some states, such as Anambra and Delta as well as some local government elections in Kwara, Anambra, Cross River, Enugu and other places.
He did not state the timeline for the committees, but said they would soon report back.
“If you know the INEC timetable you will appreciate that we are going to work within that frame work and we are going to be ready. Before INEC closes their door to nomination in Anambra State, we would almost have finished,” Akande said.
He said the party has banned those arrogating to themselves some political offices or positions when the APC structure is yet to be erected.
He added: “You know, political parties are in contest to win elections and the APC has come to demonstrate that to the good people of Nigeria.
“And in doing so the only thing that we think is creating some misunderstanding is that people are anxious to be part of APC.
“But because the party has not been given the directive, some people are just talking on behalf of the party. We are putting a stop to that. Any statement about the party should emanate from the Publicity Secretary of APC and that is Alhaji Lai Mohammed. And whatever he tells you, you should know it is the mind and decision of the All Progressives Congress.
“We are warning people that are arrogating to themselves chairmanship of APC in the state or in the local government, they are all unauthorised. All those who are printing papers, printing forms, calling rallies in the states in the name of APC; they are not yet authorised.
“The authority will soon begin to flow down from the national level to the state level, and to local government. And when it is going to be done, the National Publicity Secretary will keep you informed.”
Masari is heading the committee to advise the party on its structure.
He said the mobilisation of members into the new party will begin from the bottom to the top and the membership would be thrown open to all Nigerians, including President Goodluck Jonathan.
He said: “We have just finished the first meeting after the INEC registration of the merger of the five committees that came together. And we know our duty as the Interim Leadership of the APC is to mobilise people into APC. Our duty is to register members into the party.
“Our duty is to stage congresses, from ward level to local government level, at state level and at the national level. It is to hold a convention to establish a proper structure for the All Progressives Congress. And until that is done, we are having the party in the interim. I hope you will understand that.”
He said: “As for the second question, the ideological position. We have what you call a manifesto, which we have just written. But that manifesto needs a lot of fine-tuning. Not only that, it needs a lot of reduction into bullet points.
“By the time we reduce our manifesto into bullet points, it won’t be difficult for Nigerians to appreciate the ideology the APC represents. And that is the ideology of existing for the sake of the people and not for selfish aggrandisement of the resources of the nation to a few leadership. We are going to make that clear shortly. By the attitude of our 11 governors in their various states by what they are doing, you would have seen that there is a difference between the APC and the PDP.”
Asked to be specific on the number of parties that merged to become APC, Akande added: “The parties that held conventions to merge are the Action Congress of Nigeria, the CPC and the ANPP. Those three parties went to a convention to specify that they want to merge into APC. But a chunk of APGA has indicated their membership, that they are going to join APC. And almost the entire DPP have indicated that they are coming to join the APC.
“And we are not closing our doors to PDP. If Jonathan is tired of the crisis in the PDP, he is welcome in the APC.”
Responding to a question, Akande admitted that the nation is politically drifting towards a two-party system.
He said: “This is the first-ever merger in the history of Nigeria’s democracy. There should be a two-party system so that the country will have a choice between a bad government and a good one. It is going to deepen the democracy best.
“There are more than 40 parties in the register of parties in England but you have only two or three operating now. Ditto in America; you have only two (the Democratic Party and The Republican).
“It doesn’t mean that there are no other parties that are not showing their heads. But their democracy is very respectable because they have created a choice between two alternatives.
“In our own, we didn’t even know which one was a better party before but from now on it is not difficult for Nigerians to know which party has been inflicting pains on them in the last 14 years and which party is poised to relieve them of these pains.”
On what APC would do if the court reverses the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission to register it and favour a rival African Peoples Congress, Akande said there is no cause for alarm.
He added: “The first question is hypothetical and I will not answer it. In Nigeria today, I don’t know any other APC besides this All Progressives Congress. And we don’t contemplate anything and nothing will happen to move this APC out of place. We remain a party and we shall remain a party forever to rule this country, Nigeria.
Regarding threats by APGA to sue APC, he said: “APGA never said it was going to sue my party for any amount. APGA said it was going to sue Governor Fashola of Lagos State, so I can’t answer for him.”