Alhaji Lai Muhammed
By Onyebuchi Ezigbo
As the outcome of Thursday’s decision by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on the status of the All Progressives Congress (APC) is eagerly awaited, the leaders of the merging opposition parties are confident that APC would scale INEC’s hurdles to emerge as a political powerhouse of reckoning.
Although most of the leaders of the coalescing party were cautiously optimistic Tuesday for fear of being accused of pre-empting the decision of the electoral body, they nonetheless interpreted the expiration of the 30-day deadline given for party registration by midnight Tuesday to mean that APC had effectively become a registered political party.
The coalescing parties – Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) – had teamed up to form APC on whose platform they intend to challenge the hegemony of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the country.
THISDAY gathered from a cross-section of the leadership of the merging opposition parties that their confidence is premised on three key elements, among which was the fact that there had been no serious query raised by INEC over the propriety of the merger process.
The leaders told THISDAY that the commission had so far not spotted any wrongdoing by the merging parties, which they explained meant that they had met all the requirements for registration.
Another reason for the optimism stemmed from the fact that despite the legal threats by rival political associations with similar abbreviations, the courts had not issued any injunction that could stall APC’s registration.
“As far as we are concerned, technically speaking, by law, APC by midnight yesterday (Tuesday), assumed the status of a political party, having reached the mandatory 30-day registration deadline set by law and having met all the requirements for registration as a political party,” one of the party’s officials said.
Both ANPP and ACN had asked INEC to be fair and unbiased in handling the merger issue.
The national publicity secretaries of the two parties, Alhaji Lai Muhammed and Chief Emma Eneukwu, urged the commission not to succumb to pressure from agents of the PDP to frustrate the registration of the emerging opposition party.
Eneukwu said although it would be shocking if INEC rejected APC’s application for registration, they still have the capacity to forge ahead.