There are indications that the newly-formed mega opposition party, the All Progressives’ Congress, may adopt a new name in the likely event that the African Peoples’ Congress beat it to the APC acronym.
Both political organizations are currently embroiled in a tussle to be recognized by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC as APC.
A top member of the APC has said that the mega party is considering adding the letter ‘N’ (for Nigeria) to its version to distinguish it from any other APC, in the hope that it will end the controversy.
“We may just add ‘N’ to our acronym if this matter drags on for too long. We find it diversionary,” he said.
However, the spokespersons of the parties merging to form the APC gave varied responses when asked whether the proposed mega party would change name.
While Rotimi Fashakin, the National Publicity Secretary of the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC said that the name change was speculative, his opposite number at the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said that the APC would not change its name.
“Whatever anyone tells you about our merger now is speculative and untrue. We have said it over and again that the acronym APC is our intellectual property, whatever the PDP and its agents in the system are doing to frustrate our registration will not succeed,” Fashakin said.
“It is a big lie. We are not changing our name. We are sticking to our name,” Mohammed countered.
The National Publicity Secretary of the All Nigeria Peoples’ Party, ANPP, another of the merging parties, Mr Emma Enekwu could not be reached for comments as all calls to his mobile phone did not go through, neither did he respond to text inquiries.
Meanwhile, the INEC chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega has said that the electoral body was neither aware nor frustrating the registration of the All Progressives’ Congress.
Jega made this clarification on Saturday while speaking on a radio programme in the Hausa language, Hanu Dayawa, in Kaduna.
He said that the APC gave INEC the official notification of its intention to merge into a party only six days ago, while he insisted that no party had notified the commission of any merger plan preparatory to the 2015 elections.
He said, “The issue has generated controversy in the past few weeks. Firstly, the truth is that no political party wrote to notify us that it is planning to merge with some other political parties until the past five days or so.
“It is not true that we were notified. The issue became serious when one group came out to seek for registration and I guess that was what made them to write and notify us. But that is not the issue. The main issue is that there are guidelines for registered political parties who want to merge to become a new party. There are also guidelines for individuals or groups who want to form a political party for registration.
“The guidelines for registering new political pray are different from that of registered political parties who want to merge. For registered political parties who want to merge, they must have agreed to merge and each of the political party in the merger must hold a convention and agreed to withdraw their registration as a political party to become part of the new party to be form through the merger.
“After their conventions, they are expected to write and request INEC to withdraw their former registration and say they want to join a new party. In spite of all the controversies, none of these political parties who want to merge has held their convention.
“We only read in the newspapers that they have the intension of merging and nobody wrote us until about five or six days ago. If anybody wants to register a political party, you are expected to tell INEC of your intention by saying that you want to register a party with so and so name and you want to know the procedure for doing so.”
“People are just making noise over the name which is in the market while we have not even gotten to that stage. While all these noise were going on, another group came up seeking for registration with the same name.”
Prof Jega also spoke on the likelihood of electronic voting being employed for the next elections, saying it was not possible as the constitution had prohibited the use of the system. He however said that the commission could make use of technology to improve on the registration of voters and improve the electoral process.