I am not surprised that it is Barrister Okoi Obono-Obla that has emerged to document the first successful attempt by regional parties in Nigeria to wind themselves up and come out in one family as the All Progressives Congress (APC). This story cannot be better told than by one who was not only a witness to what happened but was also an active participant in all the steps that led to this monumental event in the political history of Nigeria.
Before this political earth quake that dismantled a proud collection of people that one of its chairmen described as a “rally” rather than a party, certain patterns of behavior had emerged on the Nigerian walk on the democracy high way. The Peoples Democracy Party (PDP) was the party visible everywhere. If you had a PDP ticket anywhere in the country, you had as good as a golden passage to the office you sought. Thus, it was unprepared for the change that overtook it with the loss of the centre in the elections of 2015.
The first visible reaction of the PDP to the merger plan was to spend good time and money struggling for the acronym-APC. A serious party would have set up a team to look the challenge in the face and work seriously on strategies to contain it. So, if APC had lost its acronym to another body, would the merging bodies be less effective if they had called themselves XYZ party? Failure to see merger for what it was supposed to be, rather than some other form of coming together, was the total undoing of the PDP.
The merger of three registered parties was not the coming together of those parties. It was preceded by their dissolution, by their death! It was preceded by all the merging parties holding conventions to wind themselves up. So, there was not going to be any ACN, ANPP or CPC so that at a future point in time, those parties would resurface as political parties if for one reason or the other they became “tired” of the association. No, the APC by the merger became a Political Party, one that is like any other Political Party – with only individual members at unit levels; with only one constitution and one manifesto.
It is the story, the detailed step by step journey from different regional parties and other groups to form a party that is not a rally but one brought together by a constitution and a manifesto that is told in ALL Progressives Congress: The making of a Change Agent.
As I indicated at the beginning of this piece, the author, Barrister Okoi Obono-Obla took part in the packaging of the APC. He came from the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) where he was National Legal Adviser during the interim regime of Senator Rufai Sani Hanga before the election of my executive in January 2011 when he became the Deputy National Secretary. Together with other members of the national and state executives, and under the leadership of General Muhammadu Buhari, we built a formidable grassroots party that secured more than 12million votes in the 2011 presidential election. We fought our loss of the election up to the Supreme Court, and Barrister Obono-Obla was a member of the legal team.
The merger discussions did not miss out Obono-Obla. The richness of the material in this publication attests to the major role he played in the making of the Change Agent that the All Progressives Congress became.
For those who want to enrich their records of Nigeria’s political journey to now, here is a document for you, but even more, it is a handbook for those who want to meet all the requirements for the formation or merger of political parties.
Prince Tony Momoh
Former Minister of Information & Culture
Former National Chairman, CPC
Member APC BOT