The controversy over which group bears the right to be referred to by the acronym APC worsened on Thursday as a third group, the All Patriotic Citizens, which is also seeking registration as a political party, laid claim to it.
It now joins two earlier groups – the All Progressives’ Congress and the African Progressives’ Congress – in the contest over the acronym.
The All Patriotic Citizens and the African Peoples’ Congress said they had submitted their registration applications to the Independent National Electoral Commission for registration as political parties.
However, the merger committee of the sponsors of the All Progressives’ Congress – the Action Congress of Nigeria, the Congress for Progressive Change, the All Nigeria Peoples Party and the All Progressive Grand Alliance – said there was no going back on the decision by the group to use the acronym.
“We have informed the whole world of our decision to merge under the name All Progressive Congress with acronym, APC. We are determined to pursue the process to its logical conclusion in the interest of our fatherland. The feeble attempt by any other entity to pretend to use the same acronym is an exercise in futility which must fail because it amounts to what in law is called passing off,” the Chairman of merger committee, Chief Tom Ikimi, said during a press conference in Abuja.
But midway through the press conference, the National Director of Operation, All Patriotic Citizens, Mr. Oliver Ike, released a statement in which he said that the group had submitted its application for registration to INEC.
“We are committed to the re-engineering of our political, economic and social foundations to eschew politics of bitterness and build a new, united and prosperous Nigeria under good democratic governance,” Ike stated.
A copy of the application, which was made available to one of our correspondents, was dated March 8, 2013. INEC’s acknowledgement stamp was dated March 11, 2013.
The political group’s logo includes a lantern and has its national office at Plot 1385 Gurara Street, Off IBB Street, Abuja.
The group said that its membership consisted of patriotic Nigerians that had genuine concern for the plight of Nigerian masses.
Also, the African Peoples’ Congress on Thursday beat the merger parties’ APC to the submission of requirements for its registration.
The party also unveiled its logo, manifesto and constitution with a call on Nigerians to reject “over-recycled forces that are totally spent and without equivocation.”
The National Chairman of the African Peoples’ Congress, Chief OnyinyeIkeagwuonu, in his speech at the event, faulted all the allegations by the ACN, CPC, ANPP and APGA.
“Today, we have submitted the long list of requirements as prescribed by INEC and have completed the constitution demand on us for registration as a political party,” he said.
He said while his APC had submitted their application to INEC with the N1m administrative fee and it has been accepted by the electoral body, the ACN, CPC, ANPP and APGA were yet to submit any such application.
“They said we did not apply to INEC for registration: First and foremost, we applied to INEC through a lawyer, whose services we retained and our letter was duly submitted to INEC. Subsequent to that, we got a reply from INEC stipulating requirements and preconditions for registration.
“They said we have not paid a kobo of the processing fee to INEC, the precondition for processing an application: Contrary to the hallucinations of the merger group, within the period we paid the N1m administrative and processing fee stipulated by the commission,” he said.
He took a swipe at the politicians in the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, ANPP, ACN, and CPC as showing “a resounding emptiness of character, clearly unfit for any kind of leadership.”
He said that the ACN, ANPP, CPC and APGA found it more rewarding “idling away on the pages of newspapers” while his group pursued an aspiration it had held for almost two years, accusing the four parties of total lack of capacity in taking care of the least basic responsibility in the process of party registration.
He said, “If the merger group were sincere in the quest for an alternative platform for Nigerians, they would have settled down to build it. But of course, they cannot because they are used to buying it. Now, their frustration has found the usual outlet in name-calling; all of which amounts to brinkmanship that does not and can never translate to registration of a political party.”
But in defense of themselves, the merger partners said for several weeks, they had told Nigerians their plan to merge, and when their accredited leaders addressed a press conference in Abuja on February 6, when they announced the agreement of the parties to merge under the name, the All Progressives Congress.
The group said, “The name and acronym have therefore become the intellectual property of the merging parties since February 6, 2013 and it has received very wide publicity in the print and electronic media.”
The parties added that they had begun all requirements to formalise their merger under the new name, APC.
They said that they were shocked when INEC said that it had received a letter from “a faceless and unknown group” using the acronym, APC.
“The obvious motive of this letter is to attempt, albeit in futility, to scuttle the registration of the All Progressives Congress which has been so widely publicised and well-received to the discomfort of the establishment,” he said.
They said that they had it on good authority that “the establishment, gravely troubled by the emergence of a united opposition has set up a high-powered team headed by a very high ranking officer of government and furnished with unlimited resources from public funds with a clear mandate to corrupt the democratic institutions and destabilise the opposition.”
The parties added that they had written to INEC on the development and advised the commission not to allow its credibility to be undermined by political hirelings and their faceless sponsors.
They described what they were seeing as the voice of Jacob, but the hands of Esau, and vowed not to allow INEC scuttle their merger.
They said the emergence of the African Peoples’ Congress and the All Patriotic Citizens was an attempt to deny them the merger plan.
Ikimi said, “We are determined to pursue the registration. Those who are also going about with names that have our acronym are doing so with the knowledge that their actions would amount to nothing.
“We will not accept attempt by INEC to deny us registration or scuttle our registration. Let the promoters of other parties come out and defend their actions.
“The major adversaries to the opposition are people in the ruling party and if there are people playing pranks with that, you cannot look further than the ruling party.
“There is only one APC and Nigerians know this. Moreover, it is the people that make parties and not by mere submission of names.”
Ikimi said the opposition would not be bothered if President Goodluck Jonathan decides to run in 2015, adding that “anybody that the PDP presents would fail”.
Others present at the news conference were the Chairman of the Merger Committee of the ANPP, Alhaji Ibrahim Shekarau and his CPC counterpart, Alhaji Garba Gadi, as well as Senator Annie Okonkwo, who represented a faction of APGA.