Alhaji Lai Muhammed
* Parties move to reconcile differences
By Onyebuchi Ezigbo
The opposition coalition parties Monday expressed fears over the possibility of a plot by agents of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to infiltrate the parties with a view to scuttling the merger plan.
Addressing journalists at the precincts of the resumed joint meeting of the merger committees, the National Publicity Secretary of Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and spokesman of the merger group, Alhaji Lai Muhammed, said no amount of effort by detractors can scuttle the emergence of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Muhammed said the merger talks were recording progress and that the meeting Monday was meant to reconcile the parties’ positions on the draft constitution and manifesto.
“Where have they not infiltrated in Nigeria? We have been in this business for long, we know where it is coming from. We know who is financing them. When the fake APC fell by the way, they have to try another thing. Here (venue of meeting) everyone that matters from Modu Sheriff, Shekarau and everyone that matters are here at the meeting,” Mohammed said.
Muhammed also said the move to register All Progressive Congress of Nigeria (APCN) was another distraction being put on the way of the opposition merger initiative which will not succeed.
He insisted that there was no problem with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), saying the process for registration was different from the process of merger.
“When somebody wants to ambush you he will try his best to ambush you, it is left for you to work on the straight path. There is no time INEC told us that we are doing anything wrong in our bid to merge. The ACN has written INEC on the convention coming up in Lagos on the 18 of this month and they (INEC) know we are going to discuss the issue of merger among other things.
“Some people have said we should change name, but yesterday we heard that another group is trying to register as APCN. So it we had not stood our ground on doing the right thing, we would have run into name crisis. CPC has also constituted a 33-man committee on the merger, same as ANPP.
“Here today here we are fine-tuning our constitution and manifesto which is part of the process we must follow before our merger,” he said.
On the report that some people in ANPP are rejecting the APC, he said they were being sponsored by the PDP.
The ACN scribe said the process for registration was different from the process of merger, adding that there was no time INEC told the merging parties that what they were doing anything wrong about the merger.
He said ACN had written INEC on the convention coming up in Lagos on April 18.
Speaking on the agenda of the joint meeting of the merger committees, Muhammed said they met to fine-tune the APC constitution and manifesto.
“The parties are at the stage of organising their national convention and they have all informed INEC of the date of their convention.
THISDAY gathered that the merging political parties are hoping to use the joint merger committees’ meeting to trash out disagreements on modalities for the formation of a transitional leadership for their the proposed All Progressives Congress (APC)).
Sources within the coalition spoke on efforts to try and narrow the gaps in positions held by the merging parties, especially as it concerned the formation of interim party structure ahead of the anticipated registration of APC by INEC.
Under the draft constitution being proposed for APC, a six-month transitional party structure is to come into force immediately after the registration the new party or 90 days before the day of the any election at which APC is fielding candidates.
The draft constitution provides for the sharing of transitional offices at the national level on the basis of each party’s strength at the last National Assembly election.
Similarly, filling of the party’s positions at the state, local and ward levels is to be based on the performance of the parties at the last held elections into the state House of Assembly.
However, three of the opposition parties involved in the merger negotiations, the ACN, All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) have held divergent views on how to constitute the transitional structure for the new coalition party.
It was learnt that following their separate meetings to scrutinise the draft constitution and manifesto, the parties had ran into a disagreement on some issues, especially with regard to the formation of interim party structure.
While the ACN is comfortable with the use of performance at the last National Assembly elections as yardstick for sharing party positions, ANPP and CPC said they would rather suggest the use of governorship seats and performance at the 2011 presidential polls respectively.
Meanwhile, a CPC source who spoke to THISDAY on the issue, said the party believes that the formation of party structure at the national level should reflect the broader elements that just the number of National Assembly seats.
“There is no doubt that we have some disagreements, especially with regards to the modalities for a transitional party structure at the national and state levels, but as usual, we expect to resolve the grey areas when we reconvene.
“For us in the CPC, we would like the transitional party structure at the national level to be constituted using the performance of the parties at the last Presidential election as a yardstick. We feel the party structure at the national level has a lot to do with the national outlook which the presidential election more aptly portrays than the National Assembly polls,” the source said.