31 January 2013

Nigeria: ACN Moves to Reconcile Buhari, ANPP

The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) is to broker truce between the national leader of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, and the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) in order to facilitate the ongoing merger negotiations by opposition parties.

Buhari, a two-time presidential candidate of the ANPP, and the party had parted under unsavoury circumstances, a situation that has created a crisis of confidence between him and the party and is threatening the efforts by major opposition parties to merge ahead of the 2015 general election.

THISDAY gathered that the leadership of ACN, which met for hours during the party's National Executive Committee (NEC) yesterday in Abuja, decided to reconcile Buhari and the ANPP leadership to facilitate the merger bid.

ACN's troubleshooting is coming on the heels of a warning letter from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) threatening to withdraw the certificate of registration of ANPP for altering its constitution without proper notice to the commission.

At yesterday's NEC meeting of the ACN, the party leaders assessed the progress made on the merger and difficulties facing its actualisation.

Among issues on the agenda of the meeting included an appraisal of the party's role in the talks as well as considering ways of dealing with identified obstacles.

According to a source, the reconciliatory effort was necessary due to the anger caused by Buhari's statement that the first phase of the merger talks would be between CPC and ACN.

Although Buhari tried to explain that his stand did not mean that ANPP would not be participating in the merger, leaders of ANPP immediately expressed their displeasure over the statement.

A top leader of ACN told THISDAY that the party considered the matter as capable of endangering the overall interest and goal of the merger.

According to the source, "ACN is taking steps to reconcile Buhari and the current leadership of ANPP over some past misgivings and to ensure that both agree to a roundtable discussion to sort out any difference."

Buhari's stand on the merger had elicited reactions from leaders of the ANPP, who saw his statement as a slight and against the initial thinking that the opposition coalition will be without any precondition.

At the ACN NEC meeting, the merger contact committee chairman, Chief Tom Ikimi, briefed the leadership on some of the milestones already reached.

Before the NEC meeting, THISDAY gathered that the party's contact committee had also met on Tuesday to prepare an interim report on its activities, which was presented to the national leadership.

The report tried to detail proposals on likely positions to be adopted by ACN in negotiating with other parties in the merger talks.

THISDAY learnt from one of the merger committee members that the report covered extensive grounds regarding the logo of the proposed party, name and leadership structure.

He also said the party's merger committee had gone far in articulating ways to overcome obstacles that might crop up with the registration of the new party.

Meanwhile, INEC has written the leadership of ANPP threatening to withdraw its registration certificate for not obeying the law on changing party constitution.

ANPP was said to have altered its constitution since 2010 but failed to notify the commission as stipulated by the Nigerian constitution.

In a letter signed by the Acting Secretary of the Commission, Alhaji Mustapha Kuta, and addressed to the ANPP National Chairman, Dr. Ogbonaya Onu, INEC asked the party to show cause why it should remain to function as a political party having flouted section 222b of the 1999 Constitution.

Section 222(b) of the constitution provides that any political association or political party which alters its constitution must notify INEC within 30 days after such alteration.

INEC alleged that ANPP failed to do so and the consequence as provided for in the constitution, is for the party to cease to remain as a political party.

However, a source at ANPP claimed that INEC witnessed the party's motion to alter its constitution during its convention in 2011 and as such was privy to the alteration.

The party source said although the party was yet to formally receive the INEC letter, it feels the there is no problem with its constitution.

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