Two political party chairmen are laying claims to the leadership of the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) as the body, which split into two major factions following a controversial election to fill the leadership vacancy on July 24. While the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDP), Bashir Ibrahim Yusuf claims he is the authentic leader given his recognition by the Independent National Electoral Commission’s support, Peter Ameh of the Peoples Progressive Alliance (PPA) also lays same claim to the leadership of IPAC but without the recognition of INEC.
Peter Ameh was elected on Tuesday by a faction of the group while Bashir Yusuf relied on the controversial election of July 24 to earn it’s inauguration yesterday conducted at the National headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). The voluntary association of IPAC has all the 29 registered political parties in the country. The national chairman of PDM, Alhaji Bashir Yusuf, who emerged chairman in July 24, was however inaugurated yesterday at the premises of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), thereby given him an official backing of sorts.
Yusuf and Ameh had both contested the chairmanship position of IPAC on July 24 election but the result was followed with petitions over the outcome, making the result controversial. 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. However, speaking after his inauguration yesterday, Yusuf vowed to champion the cause of internal democracy within political parties and pledged to curtail the influence of money in Nigerian politics.
Yusuf said that under his watch, the council would work to reposition its multiparty democracy so that electoral contest becomes a contest of ideas and programme, “not one of money, muscle and make-believe.” He said: “the influence of money in our politics has become extremely pervasive.” He assured that under his leadership, IPAC would pay a leading role to curtail the negative influence of money in the politics and champion the cause of internal democracy within our political parties. He emphasized that Nigeria cannot be a democratic nation unless its political parties are. Yusuf added that IPAC would institute a peer review mechanism for political parties to assess themselves from time to time.
He added that his administration would work to reposition IPAC to live up to its objective as contained in the Political Parties’ Code of Conduct 2013, in addition to making it a force for good. Yusuf also pledged to work with relevant stakeholders of the country’s democratic project including INEC, Civil society organizations and President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to make IPAC the vehicle for the expansion of Nigeria’s political space.
He promised that the newly inaugurated executives during its first quarter would among other programmes launch a fundraising drive to enable IPAC fund its activities and its members’ welfare. In the second half of our tenure, IPAC will identify relevant educational programs and training opportunities at home and abroad for leaders of Nigeria’s political parties on political campaigns, says Yusuf. “This will also cover area of elections and party management and ensure, within limit of IPAC financial resources, as many political parties as possible benefit from these opportunities before the expiry of my tenure,” he said.
In her remark, the acting Chairman of INEC, Hajia Amina Zakari, called on IPAC to continue to support the activities of INEC, including the conduct of Kogi and Bayelsa states elections. Zakari said that the commission over the years had benefited immensely from IPAC wealth of knowledge in various activities and programmes of the INEC. “IPAC provided the much needed support and encouragement to INEC during the 2015 general elections especially with regards to the innovations introduced to move the election process in Nigeria forward,’’ she said. She however said that the commission was aware that there were some disagreements and controversies over IPAC recently held election, saying `this is not unexpected in any competitive election anywhere in the world.
“The commission has looked into the petitions and counters petitions arising from elections and is inclined to agree with the processes and outcome of the elections. “So, we are here today to inaugurate the new executives that emerged from the elections held on July 24. “I can only plead with all to bury their grievances and continue to work together as a united body,’’ Zakari said. The outgoing chairman of IPAC, Dr Yunusa Tanko, was absent at inauguration ceremony while he was alleged to have been present at the inauguration of Peter Ameh.
-Patrick Osadebamwen, Abuja