Premium Times (Abuja)

Nigeria Civil Society Organisations Seek Support for APC

CSOs say they want to push their agenda to the newly formed APC's programme.

In a move to shore up support for the All Progressive Congress, APC, and ensure smooth future elections, some Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, in Nigeria have initiated a meeting with the leadership of the new party.

Already, the organisations have dispatched a letter to the leadership of the party seeking audience with it.

The APC, which was formed on February 6, is a coalition of four parties. The parties are All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP; Congress for Progressive Change, CPC; All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA; and Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN.

The new party is yet to submit a request for registration to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, as it is currently drafting its constitution and manifesto for that purpose.

The groups, at a meeting attended by 20 civil society leaders recently, resolved to meet with the leadership of the new party, a source at the meeting said.

The CSOs, it was gathered, had reservations during the discussion on the issue. They, however, recognized the urgency of the situation facing the country, especially in the preparation for the 2015 general elections.

Subsequently, the meeting resolved to appoint a delegation of 10 people drawn from various civil society groups to meet with the new party.

Those reportedly nominated are Rufai Ibrahim, Emma Ezeazu, Salihu Lukman, Babafemi Ojudu, Ayo Obe and Tanko Yunusa. Others are Olateru Olagbegi, Ayisha Osori and Femi Falana.

The delegation was also given the right to co-opt other members of any civil society group depending on their availability.

"We agree to engage the APC merger process. Of course as should be expected there were reservations but do recognize the urgency of the situation facing the nation," a PREMIUM TIMES source said.

"Already, a request for a meeting with the leadership of the merger committee has been submitted and we are awaiting their response.

"The general view is that we should try to develop the group and consolidate our work beyond the merger process. To ensure that, it was decided that we should try to meet every two weeks as well as reach out to our colleagues in other parts of the country to also begin to organise with the objective of engaging the political process," the source continued.

When contacted, a member of the CSO delegation, Mr. Ezeazu, confirmed the plan to engage APC in the discussion. He told PREMIUM TIMES that the meeting was initiated in order to push civil society groups' agenda into the programme of the new party. He did not, however, say when the meeting will hold, saying the groups were still expecting a response from the party.

"We are requesting for the meeting to push CSO agenda into their programme," he said. "We have struggled to push CSO agenda into PDP, the ruling party at the federal level, but they are not willing."

Mr. Ezeazu, who is the General Secretary of Alliance for Credible Election, ACE, said "everything must be done to ensure that opposition is strong to ensure that ruling parties will respond in a competitive way to the requirement of our development and democracy.

"The issue is that we are at the stage of development in our country where strong and effective opposition has become a necessity for the survival of democracy, has become inherent goal of the democratic project."

He lamented that "a situation where a ruling party is dominant, unafraid of competition and losing power, there will not be a strong impetus to serve the public group."

A member of the Legal and Constitution Compliance Committee of APC, Ibrahim Lame, told PREMIUM TIMES in a telephone interview that he was not aware of any letter written by the CSOs.

"I'm not aware, but if it comes, I believe we will treat it accordingly," the former Police Affairs Minister said.

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