The Electoral Acts 2006, section 84 (1) as amended in the parallel provisions of Electoral Acts 2010 clearly provides for vertical mergers. But the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has so far led the parties intending to merge blindfold by failing to marshal out the modalities for the evolution of ideology-based manifesto - driven mega parties through vertical mergers.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) is the first of its kind in the nation. Three parties--ACN, ANPP and CPC indicated their intention to merge. Their type of merger is clearly allowed under section 84(1-6) 2006 Electoral Acts as amended in Electoral Acts 2010. We also heard that another form of merger, this time a horizontal merger (better called an alliance) is underway. Here, 20 parties (registered/deregistered) are into political alliance with the All Peoples Grand Alliance (APGA) to field Governor Peter Obi as their presidential candidate in the 2015 presidential election. They call this collaboration the Patriotic Alliance of Nigeria (PAN). Both events are healthy political developments. Infact, if the PAN could go a step further like the APC to seek corporate status, PDP will be in real trouble come 2015!
Nigeria needs at least two ideology-based manifesto-driven mega parties. The APC just flew a kite to see how Nigerians will receive its petit project. APC's message was well received. After all, Nigerians are tired of misgovernance characterized by mass unemployment, pervasive rot in the judiciary, corruption, looting of the national economy, extensive and expansive social insecurity and religious bigotry. Nigerians unequivocally want an alternative party (not even a loyal opposition) they can compare ideologies and manifestos with. When we have two more mega parties, it should be possible for a voter in Nigeria to say "if democrats are kleptocrats, I would rather be a republican".
Unfortunately our mega parties are not ideology based even when the epithets suggesting so are mere deceitful labels to hide their monstrous visage. For instance, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) inspite of the modifying word is anything but democratic. The APC may not live to its promise to be progressive! Ask me why? The APC is a mere collaboration of progressives. It is not yet a corporate body. Whenever it is incorporated and you crack open the corporate shell you will see that those we call progressives are the same people that championed and drove the arbitrary government of the late Gen. Sani Abacha. Perhaps their sense of value has over the years changed for the better. So where do we go from here?
Under section 85 (2) of the 2006 Electoral Act INEC may with or without notice attend the national convention of the merging parties. I read from This Day newspapers of 21/02/13 that such meeting was held with INEC representative in attendance. So we can say APC is making progress. Yet the APC has many rivers to cross. It is heartwarming to hear that the parties to the merger have drafted and perhaps tendered the APC'S constitution, manifesto and logo to the INEC. ( Read This Day dated 21/2/13). Have they tendered their audited financial statements and consolidated balance sheets, as required by section 226 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria?
Looking intently at section 85 (1-3) of the 2006 Electoral Acts , it will appear that the Act does not provide for horizontal mergers (alliances). But under section 84 (1-6) 2006 Electoral Acts, two or more parties may merge by consolidating their assets and liabilities as aforesaid. Notice of the intention to merge must come with a special resolution passed by the national conventions of each of the parties making it clear that the merger is approved by their members. The INEC must be furnished with their revised register of members and register of symbols.
Again the APC cannot co-exist with the merging parties - ACN, ANPP, APGA and CPC. It is actually when these parties are liquidated, when they die so to speak, that APC can find life. So far, the life instincts in one of these parties is stronger than the death instinct. One of the merging parties APGA has vehemently refused to die!! It crossed over to the APC but refused to burn its bridges behind it. By and large the idea of a mega party like the APC is a noble one. The withdrawal of APGA is shortsighted. APGA should have simply renegotiated its membership.
Having said this, let me remark that the only time the APC can become a formidable alternative (not opposition) to the PDP is when the formators stand it on three legs across the rivers Niger and Benue. This will enable the highly disadvantaged areas -North East, South East and the South -South to participate equally and proactively in the affairs and management of the APC ab-initio.
-Uwalaka, an accountant and political systems analyst lives in Lagos.