Dr. Frederick Fasehun
* ACN expresses outrage over Fasehun’s threat
By Onyebuchi Ezigbo
Sharp disagreement among the four political parties merging into All Progressives Congress (APC), on various contending issues, on Monday, forced the hatching association to set up a 14-member committee to resolve the differences.
The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has described as worrisome and revealing, the alleged threat issued by the founder of the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC), Dr. Frederick Fasehun, in response to an earlier outcry by the party over attempts to destabilise the country, especially the South-west, as part of an overall plan to plunge the country into crisis and scuttle the 2015 elections.
Membership of the committee was drawn from the Joint Inter-party Merger Committee (JIMC), which produced five members as well as the sub-committees, which produced three members.
The three members from the sub-committees are Audu Ogbeh, (Manifesto/Motto/Slogan/Message sub-committee); Segun Osoba (Constitution sub-committee); and James Ocholi (SAN) (Harmonisation sub-committee).
Two persons were also brought in to represent three of the four parties in the merger talks.
The parties are the Action Congress of Nigeria, (ACN); Congress for Progressive Change (CPC); All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP); and a faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).
It was also gathered that the interest of the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP); and the Advanced Congress of Democrats (ACD); was also taken into consideration while constituting the committee.
The disagreements among the areas of disagreement which reportedly led to the setting up of the committees are the composition and powers of the National Working Committee (NWC); National Executive Committee (NEC); and the Board of Trustees (BoT).
Some of the attendees of the Monday meeting, which held at the Abuja home of ACN chieftain, Tom Ikimi, reportedly argued for stronger powers to be given to the convention of the proposed party above its NEC.
Another issue that split the meeting was that of the composition of the Interim Management Committee (leadership) of the association at the federal, state and local government level.
Premium Times had reported exclusively two weeks ago that the association was considering two modalities in picking its officers, particularly, the protem officials.
One of them is that the choice of the interim officials and later the substantive ones should be based on the strength of each party at the National Assembly while the other is that it should be based on the number of votes each party of the merging parties garnered during the 2011 presidential and governorship elections.
According to a source at the meeting, the 14-member committee was mandated to harmonise all issues and report back on Friday. However, the meeting continued yesterday.
All the attendees at Monday’s meeting are expected to return to the Friday meeting to adopt common positions on all issues after which the parties will proceed to their respective conventions where their members will ratify them.
Although, the parties were originally given up till April 30 to conclude their conventions, there are indications that they will not be able to meet the deadline.
Only the ACN has fixed a date for its convention.
Its spokesman, Lai Mohammed, said the event would hold on April 18 in Lagos, adding that it has already notified INEC about it.
The National Publicity Secretary of the CPC, Rotimi Fashakin, told Premium Times that the party would hold its convention on May 11.
The ANPP, on its part, is expected to fix the date for its convention at its NEC meeting slated for tomorrow, according to Emma Eneukwu, its spokesman.
However, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of ANPP, Ali Modu Sheriff, told journalists after a meeting of the Board in Abuja Tuesday that the party’s NEC will take final decision on its plan to merge with other parties tomorrow.
“We deliberated on the reports of the committee on rebuilding of our party and that of the merger committee. We are satisfied with what they have been doing. We are also satisfied with what our executives and leaders of the party across the country are doing,” Mr. Sheriff, a former governor of Borno State, said.
“Our NEC will be meeting on Thursday in Abuja and the stand of the party on the merger will be made available to members of the party and Nigerians.”
However, it is not clear if the APGA faction in the merger deal will hold a separate convention different from the one held in Awka, last Monday.
The faction, to which the Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha belongs, boycotted the Awka event. Okorocha led some members of APGA to the merger talks.
Meanwhile, the ACN said no amount of overt or covert threats or uncouth verbal attacks against its leaders would force the party to stop its continuing efforts to alert the nation on the do-or-die antics of those at the helm of affairs of the nation.
In a statement issued in Abuja Tuesday by its National Publicity Secretary, Mohammed, the party said Fasehun’s blatant threat of violence and his resort to personal attacks, in response to a statement that neither threatened violence nor attacked personality, has confirmed that the party was indeed right to have raised the alarm in the first instance.
‘Fasehun’s statement has confirmed our worst fears. We never imagined we will be proven right so fast. First, he threatened to unleash violence on those whose offence, as it were, was alerting the country to the evil machinations of those who are scheming to destabilise the country to achieve their selfish ends,” it said.
ACN said the verbal punches Fasheun threw at the party’s spokesman and its leaders has shown his unbridled hatred for the party and all it stands for and to the fact that he is indeed a willing tool to be used.
‘’It never occurred to Fasehun that Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the legend whose party he (Fasehun) is now seeking to revive in a gratuitous and self-serving act, never believed in violence and never lent himself to be used against his own people, no matter what juicy carrot was dangled before him,” it said.
ACN further said Fasheun’s response to the pipeline contract allegation had only confirmed its stand that the contract was closely linked to the attempt to revive the UPN.
“When viewed against his threats, if showed that indeed, those who want to plunge the South-west into crisis have found a willing tool to be used.
“Suffice it to say that clearly written in the statement we read out at our press conference is that freedom of association is guaranteed by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. However, that freedom should not be abused by those seeking to exploit it for the sole purpose of attacking democracy itself,” ACN warned.
ACN charged Fasheun of threatening violence against a party that never issued a threat of violence and for resorting to crude and unbecoming language against a party known for its decent language and principled stand on issues.
According to the party, rather than dwelling on personal attacks, Fasehun has put himself in an awkward position, effectively asking to be held responsible for any crisis in the region.
“This position is not where a self-respecting elder, a patriot without patronage and a democrat without prodding ought to be found,” the party said.