Nigeria’s ruling party The All Progressives Congress (APC) is a political party which was formed on 6 February 2013 in anticipation of the 2015 elections. It has been 7 years now since the party was formed. The party is the result of a merger of Nigeria’s three biggest opposition parties – the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) – and a faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). The three political parties organized their conventions and passed resolutions giving the go ahead to forgo their individual identities and merge into one big party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).The party received approval from the nation’s electoral Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on 31 July 2013 to become a political party and subsequently withdrew the operating licenses of the three legacy parties (the ACN, CPC and ANPP). It was gathered that the party was formed by 11 powerful key men and there and then the zoning formular for APC was decided. The men includes Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, President Buhari, Minister for works and housing, Babatunde Fashola, Founding APC Chairman, Chief Bisi Akande and top executives of each of the merging party. It was gathered that it was in Fashola’s official residence when he was the governor that the party was formed with the new name APC alongside its Zoning formula.
In the wake of permutations regarding the 2023 Presidential Election, a former Governor of Lagos State and Minister for Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola has said while the nation’s constitution does not provide for a zoning formula, it is a matter of honour for parties who had entered into such agreements to stay true to their words. Fashola spoke few days back during an interface with some political correspondents in Abuja.
The minister who said the opposition Peoples Democratic Party PDP has nothing to offer Nigerians also added that his ruling All Progressives Congress APC would retain power at the centre if it is able to substantially fulfill its promises to Nigerians. According to him, the PDP is not thinking well and so would still be defeated in the 2023 general elections. “On zoning, first let us talk about laws and let us talk about the agreement. The law is the Constitution. The constitution prescribes the age when you can contest for certain positions and there is nothing in the constitution that says zoning.
“Political parties are clubs where you write agreements just like the social clubs and you can decide that it is the youngest person who will be the chairman of the club or party or that the oldest person or woman should lead. “That is a matter of agreement among people. But the constitution that sets up the requirements of political party formation does not prescribe zoning. So, if people made an agreement, as a matter of honour, they should keep to the terms of their agreement, whether it is written or verbal. The truth is that what makes an agreement efficacious is the honour with which it is made, not whether it is written or verbal. “If it was right there would be no court cases on breach of contract because it is all the documents, the written and signed agreements that always go to court. But the private agreement you make with your brother or sister and you deal with it, there is no dispute, it is the honour.
“To retain power in 2023, certainly if we keep our promises, people will vote for us. That is politics. If you improve people’s lives, even if you don’t achieve it 100 per cent but they see that you are making progress, they would even want you to finish up the ones you started. “The opposition has to think better than us, not that they can defeat us anyway. Right now they are not doing that and I won’t teach them how to do it. When it is election time, they will come and meet us”, he added. On where he stands in terms of political realignment towards 2023, the minister said he remained a party man who is committed to the ideals of the APC. “Where do I belong? I belong to the party that offers Change, the APC and is committed to good governance because I think the best politics, first, is good governance. That is the best politics. What did you do with the mandate? That is the best politics. “The beauty of this for me is the opportunity it gives to impact people’s lives for good. We have elections only once in four years but we have responsibilities to provide good governance every day and that is the main job”, Fashola said. The minister also rallied support for the Mai Mala Buni-led caretaker committee of the party, saying government officials should not seek to impose themselves on the party, adding that there is need for each person to stick to his briefs.
He said; “In terms of the Caretaker Committee, perhaps this is a good opportunity. You know, the first meeting of the APC, don’t forget, was convened in my official residence in Lagos. Eleven of us. “After President Buhari and Asiwaju had agreed, I convened and hosted that meeting at which we first came up with the name ‘APC’ in Marina, Lagos. Some of you were asking me that what did we think we were doing that 11 of us…and I told you to just watch. “And it has come to pass. But after that, there is a bigger responsibility. Winning the election is not the challenge. It is delivering the programmes that is the big deal and that is what I am committed to doing. “At that time, we had party officers. Some people decided that they wanted to be Chairman, Secretary, Publicity Secretary, Treasurer etc and we voted for them. That is the truth. We must leave them to do their job. If there is a crisis that has now led us to have a caretaker committee, we must also respect the caretaker committee. Let it do its job. Those of us who did not contest to hold party offices who now found ourselves here, let us focus on our jobs too and stop getting in each other’s way. “We need to support one another. Every support that the caretaker committee requires to provide leadership, if it is within our means to do so, we will. At the end of the day, we are governed by rules. I know quite a number of them on a personal basis and their track record. “So, let us support them to achieve what is their immediate and primary mandate and to the best of its ability, I think, we won elections and a governor has joined”.
To add to this statement, President Muhammadu Buhari also made some revelations as regards the formation of APC and what transpired between the 11 keys members 7 years ago. He reminisced on the process that led to the formation of the mega party All Progressives Congress (APC), which propelled him into power four years ago.
Buhari shared the reminiscences in a foreword to a new book, “Power of Possibility and Politics of Change in Nigeria” written by the Director-General of Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), Comrade Salihu Mohammed Lukman.
Four parties – Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) – dissolved into what became APC ahead of the 2015 elections.
Buhari said all the four parties came to the “painful realisation” that none of them could defeat PDP as separate entities hence the need for them to merge.The significance of the merger, according to him, was underscored by the fact that the future of Nigeria was tied to it. The President said he spoke with the National Leader of APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Chief Bisi Akande at the commencement of the merger negotiations about the need to have a broad-based national political party.”
He said if the opposition parties had failed, it would be difficult to imagine what would have happened to them. Going into the details of the emergence of the APC, the president said: “At one point, we in the four former opposition parties, the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), and All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), came to the painful realisation that there was no way we could defeat the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as separate entities without coming together as a united force.
“So, having agreed to come together, we decided to set up committees to look into how we can best merge to form a formidable opposition party. After that each of the four parties developed the terms of reference for the committees on the modalities of the negotiations for the merger.
The understanding was that the final decision regarding how to go about the merger would be made by the executives of each of the parties. We wanted to make the process as democratic as possible.”The President said the merger was significant in the nation’s history and ought to be a major research question.
He disclosed the merger template he discussed with the National Leader of APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and the Interim (pioneer) National Chairman of the new party, Chief Bisi Akande.
He said if the merger had failed, Nigeria would have been worse for it.”The decision to come together and agree to merge to become a strong opposition party that will face PDP was historic. In my reckoning, it was one of the most significant political development in contemporary Nigerian political history. I hope historians will record the events correctly,” he stressed.
In 2015, APC candidate Muhammadu Buhari won the presidential election by almost 2.6 million votes. Incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan conceded defeat on 31 March. This was the first time in Nigeria’s political history that an opposition political party unseated a governing party in a general election and one in which power transferred peacefully from one political party to another. 2023 is around the corner and the race for whose zone is next hots up.
– TAYO OYEDIJI