Chief BISI Akande is 82 and was being celebrated widely by those who have known and related to him over the years as one of the most sober and cool-headed political leaders we have on display in Nigeria.
I became close to Bisi during the days we discussed what options there were to access power in Nigeria whose elaborate resources we believed were being very deliberately and routinely diverted to wrong ways of governance by the ruling PDP. Alliances had been formed and broken in the past.
The decision arrived at was to form a merger of political parties because the parties in reckoning then were all regional parties:- the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), headed by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu; the All Progressive Grand Alliance APGA), headed by Victor Umeh; the Congress for Progtessive Change (CPC), headed by Maj-Gen Muhammadu Buhari; the All Nigeria Peoples Party (headed by Dr Ogbonaya Onu) and the Labour Party (headed by Chief Dan Inwuanyawu).
For reasons that are strictly personal Victor Umeh and the Labour Party did not buy into the merger discussions but a faction of APGA led by Chief Rochas Okorocha later did.
The three chief executives of the three remaining parties — Chief Bisi Akande of the ACN, Prince Tony Momoh of the CPC and Dr Ogbonaya Onu of the ANPP were the three who discussed merger of the political parties which we knew could be achieved only through dissolution of the existing parties and applying to INEC as a political association to be registered as a political party.
We later appointed members from each of the dissolving parties to discuss the makings of a political association that wanted to registered as a political party. The different groups from the different intending parties which now included representatives from APGA and DPN met in Abuja under the chairmanship of Chief Tom Ikhimi.
The proposed merging team discussed all their proposals with the parties that sent them. They emerged with the requisite documents needed by a political association to be registered as a political party to seek votes. That is a manifesto showing what you intend to do for Nigerians in line with chapter two of the Constitution which itemized duties for performance in public office, and a constitution setting out the structures you intend to utilize at ward through local government and state government to the national levels to achieve your aim.
The most important organ of the party is the National Convention whose immense powers are exercised by the National Executive Committee working through the National Working Committee.
But we had to dissolve the merging parties and return their certificates to INEC. The application for registration of the political association as a political party was signed by three from each of the three dissolved parties – the chairman, national secretary and treasurer. We sent the document signed by nine of us to INEC. The registration certificates of ACN, CPC and ANPP were returned to INEC, were cancelled and a new certificate dated July 31, 2013 issued to us.
We had to assemble the interim team that would bring forth the incubating baby and Chief Bisi Akande emerged as the interim chairman of the All Proggresives Congress (APC).
He supervised the registration of the new party members, each from the newly created polling unit level, and laid and populated the structures at ward, local government, state, geopolitical and national levels.
There were about 12million people on the initial register, a number that had since dwarfed what PDP claimed made it the largest party in Africa.
When the party came fully on the scene to contest the 2015 presidential election which President Muhammadu Buhari won, all the organs established by the interim chairman were actively blossoming under the supervision of the elected chairman, Chief John Odigie Oyegun.
In the party I refer to those who have played such roles as merging party chairmen or chairman of the new party as “Chairman”.
You can now share my sentiments in the little note I sent to Bisi Akande during the week when he was 82 years old. Please enjoy:-
“My chairman, u have accessed Rung 82 of the Ladder of Life and my family and I join you in praise of the Most High for this Grace. Yes we all live by Grace but I believe in that Grace that is earned though the true worship of God actively reflected in true service to humanity, which u have been a shining embodiment of. I am very proud of a leader in my age group (I will be there if He so wills on April 27, 2021). My wish for u is that u will access many more Rungs of the Ladder of Life in good health n abundant blessings from on High. Remain safe n let us not forget why three of us as chief executives of political parties fought so hard to bring about a merger that some strange elements now want to take over. We should not let them. Again Happy Birthday.”
(Tony Momoh is former Minister of Information, and now a chieftain of the APC)