With the inauguration of factional executives of Inter-Party Advisory Council, IPAC by the acting Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Hajia Amina Zakari, OKECHUKWU JOMBO writes that the death knell of one of the most vibrant political groups has started.
Immediately the acting Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Hajia Amina Zakari – against all odds – accepted and inaugurated the factional Executives of the Inter-Party Advisory Council, IPAC, led by Alhaji Bashir Yusuf Ibrahim, political pundits in Nigeria began to express anxiety and fear that the end is near for the body.
To think that she did it knowing full well that two groups had conducted elections and have different executives and that a bye election had been ordered to look into the matter is worse.
Two national chairmen of Peoples Democratic Movement, PDM, and Progressives People’s Alliance, PPA, lay claim to chairmanship of the body.
IPAC is a voluntary association of all the 29 registered political parties in the country.
While the national chairman of PDM, Alhaji Bashir Yusuf, who emerged chairman in July 24 was inaugurated yesterday, the national chairman of PPA, Peter Ameh, was elected by 16 political parties yesterday as chairman of the council at a bye-election which held in Abuja. Yusuf and Ameh had both contested the chairmanship position of IPAC on July 24 election.
But, following Yusuf’s emergence at that election, national chairmen of the Labour Party, LP, Alhaji Abdulkadir Abdulsalam, Senator Mojisoluwa Akinfenwa of the Alliance for Democracy, AD, and Ameh filed separate petitions alleging irregularities during the election.
They specifically alleged that Akinfenwa and the representatives of All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, were disenfranchised during the election. They also accused IPAC electoral committee chairman, Hajia Hafsat Baba of usurpation.
A three-man Appeal Committee, which was mandated to review the election, voided the chairmanship election and fixed a bye-election which held yesterday.
Ameh emerged chairman of IPAC at the bye-election held at a hotel in Abuja, as his contender, Yusuf and his supporters boycotted the election.
Indication had merged that the camp of Yusuf would boycott the bye-election as the national secretary of PDM, Ifeanyi Igwe said there was no reason to nullify the election as it met all the required standards.
“The truth of the matter was that there was a legitimate election of IPAC and the political parties were well represented. The Tanko-led IPAC executive has no reasons to nullify the election. The election was conducted, INEC was there and so were international organisations too,” Igwe said.
However, the 16 parties that participated at the bye- election included Action Alliance, AA; Alliance for Democracy, AD; Democratic Peoples Congress, DPC; Peoples Party of Nigeria, PPN; Allied Congress Party of Nigeria, ACPN; Action Democratic Congress, ADC; African Democratic Congress, ADC; Labour Party, LP; All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA; Advanced Congress for Democrats,ACD.
Others are Mega Progressives Peoples Party, MPPP; People for Democratic Change, PDC; Peoples Democratic Party, PDP; Democratic Peoples Party, DPP; National Conscience Party, NCP; and United Democratic Party, UDP.
Alhaji Ganiyu Hussein Galadima, who oversaw the electoral process, said the 16 registered political parties present met the statutory quorum of 50 percent for any election to be certified.
He added that messages were sent to the camp of the PDM national chairman ahead of the poll, noting that their absence would not stop the election.
He claimed that although 27 political parties were represented at the gathering, they were not allowed to participate in the election as only national chairmen, national secretaries or party officials who produced authorization letters from their parties could vote.
He noted that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, was invited for the bye-election.
The former national chairman of IPAC, Dr. Yunusa Tanko, who swore in Ameh at the venue, explained that there were challenges with previous election, which was given to INEC for verification, hence the decision to hold a bye-election for the chairmanship position.
Yunusa, who doubles as chairman of NCP said, “two political parties, AD and APGA, were denied participation in the election, in fact after giving due certified letters from their political parties. I had sworn to protect the interest of all political parties and at that election that was not carried out.”
He added that, following petitions against that election, a committee was set to look at the issues raised and it gave directions to the general house.
“Everybody was called and decision was made for a re-run election,” he said.
On why the bye-election was held in a hotel as against INEC premises where the July 24 election held, he said “IPAC is an independent body and INEC is just an observer. So we may decide to have elections anywhere. There is no document that stipulates that election must be held at INEC office.”
On the boycott and endless litigation that may arise from this bye-election, he said, “as far as I am concerned, IPAC is a voluntary body individual parties can decide to join or not. I have done the best I could as an individual to make sure that we close ranks.
“As of yesterday I expected that people would be invited for a meeting but these individuals were not invited for the reconciliation meeting despite my own serious suggestions. As an individual I have done the best I can to make sure that we all stay under one roof. And everybody has his right to ventilate his own anger; that I cannot stop.”
He, however, expressed regret that IPAC was disintegrating, noting that what he did was in fair play and justice.
“I can assure that I have done my best in my capacity. For me, IPAC will come out stronger after this. We are all politicians, and when issues are being raised we can war-war and later jaw-jaw. I have done the best I can in making sure that everything remains the way it is.”
On INEC’s absence at the bye-election, he said: “you can hear from the electoral committee; they invited INEC. As I told you yesterday night I was there at INEC in the process of trying to make reconciliation work but one party invited by INEC and others were not invited.”
Speaking to journalists also, Ameh vowed to unite the council, recognizing that there is crack in the council.
He said, “we are going to work together. The minority will have their say but the majority will have their way. There are issues, but as the newly elected chairman of the council – because I have been there as former national secretary – I will use my experience and relationship to resolve whatever problems have been there and make the house a united and indivisible front and use it to confront the challenges of poverty and hunger in the country as well as collaborate with every tier of government to see that justice and prosperity are brought to our people.”
He corroborated that IPAC is in partnership with INEC as an independent body.
Besides the chairmanship of IPAC, the other six positions contested were not contentious.
Pundits observe that the foregoing is bad development which if not nipped at the bud could bring about the end for IPAC.