The race to pick the first chairman of the All Progressives’ Congress (APC) is now in dead heat between the National Chairman of the Action Congress of Nigeria, Chief Bisi Akande, and former Minister of External Affairs, Chief Tom Ikimi, who is also an ACN member.
The battle to head the yet-to-be-registered merger party between Akande and Ikimi followed the ceding of the interim national chairmanship to the ACN by the stakeholders.
Interestingly, the same scenario is playing out in the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) who are to produce the National Secretary of the APC.
A top APC source who spoke to our correspondent on Monday night said the self-interest factor had set into the affairs of the new party which is set to announce its Interim Executive Committee on Tuesday (today).
The nine-member IEC will manage the affairs of the party till its registration by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
The source said, “As you already know, the APC chairmanship has been ceded to the ACN, the CPC is to produce secretary while the ANPP will produce the treasurer when the party eventually gets registered.
“We are first of all human beings and there are of course interests. For the ACN, where the chairmanship was given, there are issues because two of their leading figures, Chief Tom Ikimi, who has been a visible member of the party’s merger committee, and Bisi Akande have shown interest.”
For the CPC, the source said, “It is not different. Its members too are having their own issues because the current National Secretary of the Party, Alhaji Buba Galadima, and an equally strong member of the party, Malam Nasir el-Rufai, as well as the party’s Publicity Secretary, Mr. Rotimi Fashakin are also interested.
“We’ve not heard much from the ANPP on who they are putting forward as treasurer.”
According to the informed insider, internal wrangling among the three merging political parties is largely responsible for the decision by the leadership of APC to settle for an interim executive committee to pursue the registration of the party.
The source said, “You will agree with me that we can do with less of this distraction for now.”
It was gathered after the party had been registered, an Interim Management Committee would replace the IEC.
National Publicity Secretary of the ACN, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said he was not aware that Akande and Ikimi were contending for the chairmanship slot of the APC
On his own part, National Publicity Secretary of the CPC, Rotimi Fashakin, dismissed the issue of internal wrangling within the party as a mere speculation.
Fashakin however confirmed that a meeting had been scheduled to hold today (Tuesday). Though the CPC spokesman said he did not know whether the APC IEC would be unveiled at the meeting, it was reliably learnt that except the stakeholders have a change of heart, the nine members of the IEC would be announced today.
He said, “What the leadership of our parties has decided is that three officials from each of the merging parties recognised by law will for now serve as members of the Interim Executive Committee.
“For the avoidance of doubt these officials are the national chairmen, national secretaries and national treasurers of the three parties involved in the merger.”
He further explained that members of the IEC would be involved in the correspondence with INEC “until our registration process is concluded.”
For the ACN, Akande who is the current National Chairman of the party and his counterparts in the ANPP and CPC, Chief Ogbonaya Onu and Tony Momoh, respectively are automatic members of the committee.
A leading member of the proposed APC, who was the candidate of the All Nigeria Peoples Party in the 2011 elections, Ibrahim Shekarau, had told journalists in Kano on Sunday that a decision to constitute the committee had been reached.
Shekarau refuted claims that Akande had been endorsed as the Interim National Chairman of the proposed APC.
He, however, explained that Akande was eligible to be nominated by the nine-man Interim Management to be set up by the party, if it so desired.
Shekarau, during a press conference in Kano, explained that that explanation became necessary so as to put the records straight as well as to dismiss speculations that Akande had been endorsed as the Interim Chairman of the APC.