By Com Jasper Azuatalam
After the attempt to form an alliance between the defunct CPC and ACN on the eve of the 2011 election failed as a result of limited time and other logistical challenges, the leaders of the defunct CPC and ACN led by Gen Muhammadu Buhari and Sen Bola Ahmed Tinubu began to make a conscious effort to bring the major opposition political parties together.
On May 2012, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd) visited ACN leader, Bola Tinubu at his residence in Lagos, where they met behind closed doors. The two leaders discussed the political future of the two leading opposition parties, especially how to restart consultations towards merger or alliance ahead of 2015.
In June 2012, Bola Tinubu led a delegation to the Kaduna home of Gen Muhammadu Buhari to officially begin talks on the proposed CPC and ACN merger.
A few months later, the defunct ANPP led my Chief Ogbonnaya Onu indicated interest in the merger and officially joined the major opposition political parties in the merger arrangement. Later, a faction of APGA and DPP also indicated interest and joined the merger talk.
In January 2013 the defunct CPC set up an 18-man committee headed by the former Deputy Governor of Bauchi State, Garba Gadi, to represent it in the merger talks. The ACN set up a 19-man committee, while the ANPP also did the same. The committee was saddled with the responsibility of writing a constitution, providing an acceptable name for the proposed party and working out modalities for the merger among other responsibilities.
The ACN was the first to hold its convention to ratify the merger of the opposition political parties on the 19th of April and on the 11th of May 2013, the defunct CPC and ANPP held its national convention to ratify the merger with other political parties.
On the 30th of July 2013, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) registered the All Progressive Congress amidst intrigues and pressure. The statement issued my INEC read, “The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has approved the application by three political parties – the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) – to merge into one, to be known as the All Progressives Congress.
“In considering the application, the Commission found that the applicant-parties have met all statutory requirements for the merger, and has accordingly granted their request.
“Consequently, the Commission has approved the withdrawal of the individual certificates of the applicant-parties, and the issuance of a single certificate to the All Progressives Congress”. The statement was signed by the Secretary to the Commission, Abdullahi A. Kaugama.
The APC inaugurated an interim leadership led by Chief Bisi Akande to pilot the affairs of the Party till the party is able to hold its first national convention where substantive leaders will be elected.
On Tuesday the 26th of November 2013, five PDP governors and leaders of a faction of PDP decamped to the APC alongside several House of Representatives members and Senators. The PDP governors that defected to the APC are Mr. Chibuike Amaechi (Rivers), Alhaji Ahmed Abdulfatah (Kwara), Dr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso (Kano), Alhaji Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), and Alhaji Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto).
On February 2nd,2014 a former vice president of Nigeria and Turaki of Adamawa, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar dumped the PDP and joined the APC with his supporters.
On the 13thof June 2014, APC held its first national convention where it elected substantive leaders who will pilot the affairs of the party for four years. The former governor of Edo state, Chief John Oyegun emerged as the National Chairman of the party among other leaders of the party that emerged in their respective positions.
The People’s Democratic Party, PDP and other pessimists predicted doom for the APC at one point or the other, but the party has surmounted all odds to exist, remain strong and vibrant. One that can be easily remembered was when the special adviser to President Jonathan, Dr Doyin Okupe asked Nigerians to call him a bastard if the APC survives one year.
Come December 10 in Lagos, the APC will be electing its presidential candidate to fly the flag of the party against the incumbent president Goodluck Jonathan who has been chosen as the PDP consensus candidate.
At this point, it is important for us to recount the journey so far and be guided by the huge sacrifice that many Nigerians and APC leaders have made in making a choice for the party’s presidential flag bearer come December 2014.
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