By Ikenna Omeje (Politics Reporter), Abuja

One of Nigeria's leading Progressive Political Party, the United Progressive Party (UPP), on Thursday, formally collapsed its party structures into that of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), following the recent de-registration of 74 political parties by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

In a statement signed and distributed to newsmen on Thursday by the founder and national chairman of the UPP, Chief Chekwas Okorie, the party directed its members at the wards, state, zonal and national levels, to immediately proceed to register as APC members following the consummation of this inter-party fusion arrangement.

This decision was on Thursday after a meeting of the National Excecutive Committee (NEC) of the UPP in Abuja. Chekwas Okorie stated thus in the statement:

"The National Executive Committee (NEC) including the Board of Trustees (BOT) and other stakeholders of the United Progressive Party (UPP) met on Thursday 20th February 2020, in an Extraordinary Meeting at the Party’s National Secretariat, Abuja. We reviewed the action of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in de-registering UPP along with 73 other Political Parties.

"We resolved not to challenge the Independent National Electoral Commission in the Court of law. We, however commend the Political Parties that have opted for the Court option, knowing that it is within their constitutional right to approach the Courts for judicial intervention.

"We reviewed a number of options available to us including the hand of fellowship extended to our Party by some of the Political Parties that survived the INEC onslaught. However, after considering the fact that on the 17th August 2018, our Party’s National Executive Committee opted to support President Muhammadu Buhari in his bid for his second term in the 2019 Presidential election unconditionally, during which time, our members across the country were directed to campaign for the All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential candidate and President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. This directive was carried out without a single dissenting voice from any segment of the Party nationwide.

"In view of our present circumstances, our Party resolved unanimously that the most logical follow up to our earlier chosen political trajectory would be to collapse all our structures from the Ward to the National level into the All Progressives Congress. We have therefore directed our members at all levels to proceed to register as members of APC at their various Wards of origin or the Wards where they are resident. Before arriving at this final decision, we consulted widely, not only among ourselves but with the leaders and stakeholders of the APC where we have been assured of a warm welcome and equal opportunities available to all bona fide members of the ruling Party.

"UPP was registered on 2nd October 2012, and for nearly eight years of its existence, we exhibited the highest level of internal Party democracy, discipline and cohesion. In this number of years, UPP never experienced any factionalization at any of the levels of the Party’s administration and structure. We urge our members to exhibit this commendable character disposition in the APC so that we shall stand out as disciplined members of the APC who will be known for our contribution to the growth of the Party.

In the next few weeks we shall present ourselves formally to the leadership of the All Progressives Congress along with other Political Parties who are similarly inclined.

Meanwhile, the seventy four political parties recently deregistered by the Independent National Electoral Commission have been advised to come together and work out strategies for moving Nigeria in the right direction as the nation’s political trajectory in the last twenty years is not likely to take it to the desired destination. This was contained in the communique issued by the Coalition of a Progressive Political Parties, COP3, when it rose from the meeting of its National caucus in Abuja on Wednesday, 19th February, 2020.

The Coalition, which is made up of eighteen political parties also advised the deregistered political parties not to put too much storein litigation as the legal process is long, tortuous, expensive, uncertain and not necessarily worth the effort. It advised parties who wish to embark on the struggle for a better Nigeria to come together to work out strategies for making lasting impact by changing the nature of politics in Nigeria away from the usual struggle for patronage and public office for personal gain to the struggle to free the nation from the bondage to corruption and bad governance at all levels.

“Our Coalition has been very active in supporting the current administration at the electoral level and in its fight against insecurity, corruption and the restoration of economic growth but we see the deregistration of some of our members as an opportunity to rethink our strategy and reposition our collective assets towards the search for a better Nigeria beyond the pursuit of public office and the current administration”, says Bashir Yusuf Ibrahim, the Chairman of the Coalition.

”Politics is not just about power. It is, more importantly, about public service, empowering citizens in all facts of their lives and putting the interest of the nation above all personal, group and political considerations. Our support for President Muhammadu Buhari remains solid but we are thinking ahead and beyond the current dispensation towards a Nigeria that works for all Nigerians regardless of their position in life, political affiliations and geographical location. We want to dismantle the existing patronage system, which is created over the last twenty years and replace it with a merit-based system to enable every Nigerian access power, economic opportunity and social amenities regardless of any other consideration.

“As a Coalition, we see ourselves as multi-partisan. We take the opinion of each and every member of the Coalition into consideration before arriving at a decision. At our meeting, we agreed to endeavor to embark on a struggle for a better Nigeria and change the thinking of citizens from considering politics as a vehicle for self-fulfillment to one of collective fulfillment. No Nigerian should fulfill his or her aspirations at the expense of the aspirations of the rest of Nigerians. It is this attitude of the self above the nation that has brought us to this state of helplessness. We cannot get out of it without changing our foundational ideas about politics and service.”

Members of the Coalition of Progressive Political Parties include, AAP, Accord, ACPN, APA, APM, FJP, Fresh, KOWA, NDLP, NNPP, PDM, SNP, UPN, UPP and YES. Present at the meeting were the National Secretary of AAP, Chief Oscar David Kalu, National Chairmen of Accord, Hon. Mohammed Lawal Nalado, National Chairman of ACPN, Alhaji Ganiyu Galadima, National Secretary of APA, Alhaji Isma’ila Umar Sifawa, National Chairman of APM Mallam Yusuf M. Dantalle, Deputy National Chairman of Fresh, Miss Chizoba Onu, National Chairman of KOWA, Alhaji Saidu Bobboi, Mallam Haruna Y. Shaba, National Chairman of NDLP Alhaji Umar M Maizabura, National Secretary of NNPP, Mr. Agbo Major, National Secretary of SNP, Mallam Yusuf Ibrahim, National Secretary of UPN, Alhaji Abubakar Abdullahi Sokoto, National Chairman of UPP, Chief Chekwas Okorie, National Chairman of YES Mr. Elem Chukwuemeka and the Chairman of the Coalition, Mallam Bashir Yusuf Ibrahim.