THE war over the use of APC acronym is not yet over. While leaders of the All Progressives Congress, APC, have been receiving congratulatory messages from different personalities and organisations on the registration of their party by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, on Wednesday, July, 31, one of the parties that had been fighting for the use of the same acronym has kicked against the registration.
Onyinye Ikeagwuonu, chairman of the African People’s Congress, APC, has described the registration of the rival APC as an attempt by Atahiru Jega, chairman of INEC, to plunge the country’s democracy into chaos. Addressing the press in Abuja on Thursday, August 1, the chairman of the yet-to-be registered APC, said the decision of the INEC to register the other APC was illegal. Ikeagwuonu said as long as the ownership of the APC acronym remained a subject of litigation, the acronym should have been regarded as unavailable to the newly-registered APC or any other political group.
He said with the registration of the rival APC, “it became obvious that Jega and his mercantile officials in INEC have succeeded in plunging the country’s democratic process into chaos. As long as our case is in court, the APC acronym is not yet available as the process of registration which ends with a judicial review, is still ongoing. Nigerians must note that INEC fully acknowledged that we were the first to apply with the name, APC and are fully in court with us over our move to upturn the decision to deny us registration.”
But some political analysts said the approval and the registration of the All Progressives Congress, has put an end to the controversy over the ownership of the acronym, APC.
The announcement of the registration itself promptly drew immediate reactions from the APC, the Peoples Democratic Party, Arewa Consultative Forum, Bola Tinubu, a former Lagos State governor, and a host of other prominent Nigerians. The APC described it as victory for Nigerians. In a statement by Lai Mohammed, interim national publicity secretary of the party, the APC, said with its registration, Nigerians now had an alternative to the ruling PDP, which it said had taken the nation “for a bad ride in the past 14 years.”
The statement said: “With the approval of our merger by the INEC and the emergence of the APC, today (Wednesday) marks the beginning of a new dawn for our country and her long-suffering people. We thank Nigerians both here and in the Diaspora for standing by us.” Tinubu, one of the founders of the APC, said the registration by the INEC signalled “the commencement of a new phase in the struggle to bring true democratic change to Nigeria.”
Describing the coming together of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, and the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, as not just a merger, but first of its kind “ in the history of Nigeria and it represents a paradigm shift in our politics.”
The former CPC similarly commended the decision of the INEC to register the party, saying it had given Nigerians a choice between “good and evil.”
The All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, on its part described the party’s registration as “a black market registration.” Speaking at a press conference in Abuja, on Thursday, Victor Umeh, national chairman of the APGA, said in another breath that he was taking Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State and the newly-registered party to court for listing it in an advertorial as one of the four parties that merged to form the party. Umeh gave Fashola, a senior advocate of Nigeria, SAN, seven days’ ultimatum within which to publish a retraction in the newspapers where he published the advertorial congratulating the APC for a successful registration. “Coming from a senior lawyer, we are sure that the governor knows the obvious implications of this advertorial which we detest. It is a mischief contrived to deceive all our teaming supporters in Nigeria and worldwide that APGA has now become part of the APC,” Umeh said.
In a similar vein, the ACF said the registration of APC would enhance the growth of democracy in the country. Anthony Sani, national publicity secretary of the Forum, said it would provide a formidable opposition to the ruling party. However, the PDP, while welcoming the registration, said the APC was not a threat to its dominance of the nation’s political scene as it would want Nigerians to believe. “The registration of the new party poses no threat to the PDP. The ruling party still maintains its preeminent position and enjoys the widest popularity and acceptance among Nigerians across the country,” Tony Okeke, acting national publicity secretary of the ruling party said in a statement.
The INEC announced the registration of the APC in a terse statement issued in Abuja by Kayode Idowu, chief press secretary to Jega on Wednesday, July 31. It said with the approval, the ACN, ANPP, and the CPC which formed the APC, had satisfied the requirements for registration as a political party. It also approved the withdrawal of the individual certificates of the three parties and issued a single certificate to the APC.
Book Haram’s Unrecorded War Against Christians
THE Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, has raised the alarm over the unreported killing of 16 Christians in a church in Biu, Borno State, by members of Boko Haram, on Sunday, July 28. Ayo Oritsejafor, president of CAN, in a statement issued by Kenny Ashaka, his special adviser on media, on Thursday, August 1, alleged that the 16 Christians were handcuffed and burnt to death by members of the sect. The statement said in part: “He is particularly traumatised by the unreported news from Biu in Borno State that 16 Christians were handcuffed and burnt to death by members of the Boko Haram sect within the precinct of a church in the ancient city on Sunday, a day before one of the explosions in Kano went off at the Christ Salvation Pentecostal Church at the peak of evening worship.”
The CAN president also said he was saddened by the twin explosions by Boko Haram in Kano metropolis where about 53 people were killed and scores injured on Monday, July 29. On behalf of CAN, Oritsejafor commiserated with the victims of the bomb attack, their families and friends of those who lost their lives in both tragedies. He said that the incidents further confirmed that the primary targets of the Boko Haram sect are Christians and their churches.
While commending government efforts to resolve the crisis, the CAN leader noted: “Having waved the olive branch, constituted a committee to dialogue with the result that more Nigerians, especially Christians, are being killed during the month of Ramadan, CAN believes that its members are targeted for annihilation. This is a war of ethnic and religious cleansing by the Islamic fundamentalists.” Oritsejafor, however, prayed that God should grant the families of those killed the grace of comfort at the trying moment.
Igbo Deportation Controversy
THE controversy over the resettlement of 72 people from Lagos in Onitsha, Anambra State, about two weeks ago, is yet to abate. On Thursday, August 1, Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State, described the controversy as political. Speaking for the first time on the issue, Fashola told reporters after inspecting the light rail project and jetties at Mile 2 area of the state, that the propaganda on the issue was meant to tarnish the reputation and credibility of his government as well as the newly registered All Progressives Congress, APC, because of the November 16, governorship election in the state.
Fashola said: “It is unfortunate that my colleague governor made this a media issue. As I speak, I haven’t received any telephone call or letter from him to complain. And I don’t think that is the way government works. On less important matters like this, he had called me before.”
The governor explained that those hiding under the controversy to portray the state government in bad light before the Igbo speaking communities, have failed to realise the existing bond between the government and the Igbo residents over the years.
“I think there is a large Igbo community in the state. And their presence is evident in Alaba with the Alaba International Market and the ASPAMDA market. And they are doing their business peacefully while the state government is working tirelessly to provide the required transport system that will help improve the travel time and their businesses. There is too much at stake for anyone to begin to incite the Igbo community against their host state. There is too much at stake here. It is a very dangerous and unwarranted precedent,” the governor said.
Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State had written to President Goodluck Jonathan urging him to intervene in the brewing face-off between the two states over the forcible relocation of some Igbos to his state. Obi, in the letter, the content of which was released to the public on Wednesday, July 31, warned that if the action of the Lagos State government was not checked, other states could emulate it by forcing out non-indigenes from their states. This, he said, could lead to anarchy in the country.
Obi’s letter said in part: “Last September and again on 24 July 2013, the Lagos State Government contrived inexplicable reasons to round up Nigerians, whom they alleged were Anambra indigenes (most of whom the State Security Service, SSS) report shows clearly were not from Anambra State) and forcibly deported them to Anambra State, dumping them as it were in the commercial city of Onitsha. This latest callous act, in which Lagos State Government did not even bother to consult with Anambra State authorities, before deporting 72 persons considered to be of Igbo extraction to Anambra State, is illegal, unconstitutional and a blatant violation of the human rights of these individuals and of the Nigerian constitution.”
But Chris Ngige, a senator from Anambra State, in a letter to the president of an Igbo professional group, Aka Ikenga, on July 30, said his finding on the issue showed that it was not a deportation, “but a social welfare intervention.” Ngige said that he had a meeting with the group on July 28, and was requested as a senator elected on the ticket of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, to find out what transpired. The senator said that when he met with Fashola, he discovered that the state’s intervention involved several homeless destitute and other psychiatric cases roaming about the streets and some living under the bridges in Lagos.
Ngige’s letter explained further: “These people were taken in and treated and cared for by the Lagos State Government free of charge and thereafter needed to be reintegrated with their families. After this rehabilitation, the affected people disclosed their true identities and the disclosure revealed that 14 of them were from Anambra State. For the purpose of reintegration with their kith and kin back home (most of them have nobody in Lagos) and for further social support and care, Lagos State Government communicated the Anambra State government as well as other affected state governments to come forward and identify and take over their people.”
He said that on the basis of that communication, Anambra State government requested for the identities of those claiming to be from the state and the list was promptly forwarded to the state. “With further contact and pressure, Anambra State Government preferred that the handing over be done at Onitsha Bridgehead and Lagos State obliged but found no Anambra State government representative on arrival on the agreed date and was hence forced to leave the people at a government office they found at the Niger Bridgehead,” Ngige said. He further said that the Lagos State government explained that such kind of exchange of destitute occurred between states in the federation and that recently it went to Akwa Ibom State to take back two of its rehabilitated indigenes.
ASUU Strike: No End in Sight
GETTING the striking university lecturers to call of their strike appears to have become an embarrassment to the federal government. On Wednesday, 31, the federal government appealed to parents and students to bear with it, promising to do everything humanly possible to resolve the unfortunate consequences of the closure of universities. It promised to work hard to end the already five-week-old industrial action embarked upon by members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU.
Labaran Maku, minister of information, who made the appeal while speaking with State House correspondents at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, said the government had resolved to end the crisis because of the damages perennial strikes had inflicted on the nation’s education sector. The minister, however, expressed the confidence that the negotiation being currently spearheaded by Emeka Wogu, minister of labour, and Ruqqayat Rufa’i, minister of education, would soon produce the desired result. “The Federal Government has been far more worried than you think concerning the strike in tertiary institutions, because of the disruption of the school calendar. So, the government is concerned and very worried, and since the outset of the strike, the government has been negotiating with ASUU through the ministry of labour and productivity and the ministry of education. So, we are appealing to our people, particularly parents and children of this nation to bear with us; to show more understanding and we pray that this type of strike will not recur, because the public school system suffers a lot of damage with the perennial strikes.”
— Aug. 12, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT