By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
TODAY’S convention of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) could well be a celebration. From controlling just one State at the turn of the last general elections in 2007, the party today has four States, Lagos, Edo, Ekiti and Osun in its grip. It also has a friendly relationship with the Labour Party in Ondo State.
In effect the party has not just dusted the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from its leading role in the Southwest, the ACN has become the leading opposition party in the country.
The ACN’s leading role as the nation’s opposition party is further buttressed by the seeming lethargy that engulfed the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) especially during the tenure of its immediate past leadership.
The vibrancy of the party especially in the articulation of issues in the polity is equally unprecedented. The ACN’s capacity for articulation is backed by a solid publicity committee headed by the irrepressible Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party’s national publicity secretary.
The outspokenness of the party has sometimes rankled like last Sunday when the party issued a statement denouncing the spate of bad blood among the leading candidates for the PDP’s presidential ticket.
The ACN has despite its gains, however, remained largely secretive operating in the mode of the defunct Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) and the Youruba Afenifere in its decision making processes.
It was as such not surprising that the party’s congresses especially in the Southwest largely returned consensus candidates to fill most executive positions.
At today’s convention, there are indications that the same thinking may apply as the national chairman of the party, Chief Bisi Akande who has guided the party since formation is set to be returned albeit, unopposed to continue his stewardship of the party.
The exit of Dr. Usman Bugaje as the national secretary of the party has left a vacancy that is going to be filled at today’s convention.
There were indications at the weekend that it was going to be a contest between Senator Lawali Shuaibu, erstwhile Minority Leader of the Senate and another yet to be known candidate.
Shuaibu entered the ACN alongside his political soul mate, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa, the erstwhile Governor of Sokoto State and erstwhile presidential candidate of the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP).
Shuaibu and Bafarawa left the DPP after the later subsumed itself into the ACN recently.
Most other positions according to Vanguard sources are likely to be filled on consensus basis.
The party has also surged in strength across the country picking up support from disaffected politicians mainly in the mainstream Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The party has not surprisingly strengthened itself in places like the Southeast through the defection of Senator Ifeanyi Ararume from the Imo chapter of the PDP and in the South_South has been bolstered by the joining of former Senator and minister, Chief John Akpanudoedehe.
The party also has recently been enlivened in the South_South particularly in Delta State with the defection from PDP by Chief Ovie Omo-Agege. Omo-Agege after a little sojourn has now pitched tent with the Republican Party of Nigeria (RPN) the platform he hopes to accomplish his gubernatorial aspiration in the forthcoming re-run election in Delta State. It is, however, an open secret that his political structure is in an accord with the ACN for the purpose of the re-run election.
In the North, the ACN is equally receiving attention with the reported defection of Mohammed Abacha, the son of the erstwhile Head of State, Sani Abacha into the party. Abacha fell out with the PDP and then the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) stalwarts in Kano before reportedly settling for the ACN.
Not to be forgotten in the systematic revival of the ACN is the role of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the erstwhile Governor of Lagos State who it is generally acclaimed is the engine wire of the party allegedly providing both resources and strategy in the unfolding challenge to the dominance of the PDP in the Southwest and in the country as a whole.
The prominence of the ACN is equally being enhanced by the recent membership of Bafarawa, Shuaibu and Alhaji Nuhu Ribadu, the erstwhile Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Ribadu, Bafarawa and Dr. Usman Bugaje, the outgoing national secretary of the party are among the leading presidential aspirants of the party.
It is remarkable that all three presidential aspirants are northerners and thereby in good position to tap into crisis of confidence that could arise from the zoning debacle that is presently threatening the PDP.