Senator John AkpanUdoedehe is the secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Caretaker/Extra-Ordinary National Convention Planning Committee. In this interview, he speaks on the party’s planned new membership registration and revalidation exercise, NEC meeting, funding of party and submits that the membership registration would cure the wounds in the party. Excerpts.
How prepared is the party on membership registration and revalidation that you are about undertaken.
We are very, very prepared. Very, very prepared in the sense that we are much more technical than what people think. For instance now our membership card is customized to your unit, where you vote. We have got a code, a National code from a national institution. So, the issue that we are going to have a normal membership card that you can carry and go anywhere you want to go is not possible. We are going to have a membership card that is tied to your unit and your ward, that is how prepared that we are.
How were you able to generate the code
Through the FRSC, that is why l said National Institution. We got a tested and trusted code from the Federal Road Safety Commission. They are the one with a trusted code, it is not a secret.
What is the projection of the party in this membership registration in terms number.
That is why the registration is inevitable because some people have come into the party, some have gone out of the party. We are going to work on the figure we already have but if it exceeds our expectations that would be nice. We have printed enough cards and like l told you earlier we are going to send men of reputation to states. This registration is not going to be done by the state working committee (SWC). We are sending men of credible and proven integrity. If there is a petition against you, we will blacklist you because this membership card cannot be sold, it must be given to individuals. If you refuse to give anyone who desire to be our member, we will withdraw you and send other persons to come to that place. Everyone must have a card.
Some stakeholders have moved against this membership registration and revalidation. What actually will it achieve for the party.
This registration we cure all wounds. Wounds like this people are ACN, ANPP, CPC, APGA, etc. We are trying to completely remove the blocks in the system. We are coming in as APC whether you joined in inception or you are joining now, we are not going to see you as a block anymore. You are going to be a member of APC. We are not going to be balkanized again base on those blocks. We are going to be one political party, the Progressive party with ideology and all that. You will see yourself as a member of APC.
There are fears that the registration exercise will involve the dissolution of ward, local, state or zonal executives of the party.
That is not within our powers. That is within the powers of NEC.
Another fear is that the registration is targeted against some persons in the party.
Never! A lot of people are too big for you to target them and they are very useful. It is not targeted at anybody, we just want this registration to be owned by every member of this party. It is not targeted at anybody, in the contrary, it would actually consolidate those who have strengths, for instance l cannot be begging for card, it is going to be a free commodity. It is going to be by my will and by my acceptance to be a member of this party, that is all.
Don’t you think that the timing of the registration giving the fact that it falls within festive period, might be affected.
That is why we are taking time to enlighten all our members. We are in almost all the media houses now. What we are doing is to enlighten people through the print and electronic media and every other means. To let people know what we are doing, we are not afraid of anybody, we are not even trying to exclude anybody. The idea behind this is that it shouldn’t be too cumbersome. Like the argument people are making is that why are you going back to this in this modern age, that is why we talk about revalidation. We will put into that system to see those who are still there and those who are not. The data base will still be there, the card system will still be there you can stall all the information in the card so that we will be properly informed. I can’t go on telling you examples of things that government has done over the years. Like the National Population, people died, some people are born they still go manually to go and update their data centre and that is the truth. So, l don’t want to say much more than that. In politics people are bound to suspect you because it is a game. Nigerians generally would want to look at the negative side of things, how do l go about that system. That is the thing but we will do our best to make sure that everybody is comfortable. The INEC has said they are going to do mass registration next year because by next year some persons would have been 18 and all that. So, registration is a continuous process but this is going to be the best, we are procuring the best. We are not targeting anybody and we don’t have such capacity. In fact if there is anything this Caretaker Committee will go on well to do is to bring the oneness of the party and establish the party with internal democracy and give the membership of the party to whosoever that is willing.
Some party members are also concerned about the funds that are going into this exercise. They believe that 1.5 billion naira or above is on the high side for registration when some states don’t have good party offices.
Well, you see some people don’t know how parties are funded. When we have projects, a lot of individuals who are interested come up to say l want to do this or that for the party. The money didn’t come from the party. Some individuals who are loyal party members volunteered and said l am going to do this, l am going to do that. So, where they got the figure of money being use l don’t know. Before now and now party is funded by individuals.
You NEC meeting is coming up very soon amidst protest, what should party members expect from that meeting.
What we have been telling them. We will submit ourselves to the scrutiny of NEC, we will submit whatever we are proposing to NEC and it is left for them to approve or not to approve. That is all.
Some persons believe that you are going to NEC to have tenure extension. Is that the idea.
No, no. That is far from it. We will present to them the time table of what we have proposed to do. It would be left for them to say no or yes. There is nothing about tenure elongation. There is something you asked: can we do registration in a festive period, this is what NEC would approve or not. There are tensions; trust issues, reward system and so many that would be presented. For instance a lot of our members are angry with the President, why is he throwing all the social programs to Nigerians, he doesn’t reserve one for the party. You know the beneficiaries; those who actually benefit more are PDP. The President is not discriminating against any party, he sees Nigerians as the centre of this administration. So, these are some of the issues we are trying to explain, we are doing that to enlighten our people for them to us queue into these programs.
There seems to be a good working relationship with the Caretaker Committee and the APC governors. What is responsible to this.
I suppose it is the style of leadership. The chairman of this Caretaker Committee is a governor to start with and he has respect for constituted authorities. He knows that the governors are the blocks, even when PDP was in power you don’t play with the state you have advantage over, you don’t want to lose them. The power of the opinion leaders is very important, you should respect your governors, they are doing well. Without those governors and their programs, how would you have APC? What attracted other people to join APC is because of some programs they are doing in their states. Success stories, even when they are trying to blackmail you they cannot. I was so delighted and so happy when l hear an intellectual like Wole Soyinka, coming to evaluated the objectivity of #EndSARS, the hoodlum what they did to public properties in Lagos. That is why you have such minds, fearless minds, they speak the truth, it doesn’t matter who is involved. So, if you destroy your properties how do you get them back. It doesn’t make sense and no matter the blackmail the truth would always come out.