By Celestine Okafor (Publisher/Editor-in-Chief)

After months of internal disagreements and expectations, the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), the umbrella body of registered political parties in Nigeria, on Thursday November 12, 2020, held its general election which produced Dr Leonard Nzenwa as new national chairman and other elected executive members to pilot the affairs of the body.

The election which was supervised by a 4-member team of observers from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), was held at the INEC Institute located in the Central Area of Abuja. The election was presided over by the Election Committee set up for that purpose headed by the National Chairman of the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP), Chief Dan Nwanyanwu and comprised of Chief Akpanudehe, the All Progressive Party (APC) interim National Secretary.

The IPAC's new executive members elected are: Dr Leonard Nzenwa of AAC party (National Chairman), Mrs Chinyere Oge kalu of ZLP party (Deputy National Chairman), Alhaji Yusuf Dantalle of APM party (National Secretary), Mr Egbeola Martins of YPP party (Deputy National Secretary) and Hon. Muhammad Lawal Nalado of Accord party (National Treasurer).

Others are: Dr Abdul Ahmed Ishaq of SDP party (National Financial Secretary), Ambassador Agbo Major of NNPP party (National Publicity Secretary), Prince Chinedu Obi of NRM party (National Organizing Secretary) and Barr. Nnadi Uche of APP (National Legal Adviser).

In his acceptance speech shortly after the swearing in of the new elected executive members by the Electoral Committee chairman, Chief Dan Nwanyanwu of Zenith Labour Party, IPAC's new national chairman, Dr Leonard Nzenwa, described the election as "a New Dawn for IPAC". He thanked members of IPAC and the political parties, INEC officials and the press present, who he said, braved all odds to attend the " historical General Assembly, the first after the de-registration of the 74 political parties by INEC in February, this year".

Continuing, Nzenwa expressed the condolences of IPAC to the family of Late Alhaji Balarabe Musa, the former governor of the old Kaduna state who was a leading light of IPAC and also prayed for the repose of Musa's soul. He described the elderstatesman who passed on in the early hours of Wednesday as "a dogged party man, a remarkable patriot, a great figure and a leading light we all should emulate".

The new IPAC boss stated that "When providence beckoned on us, I and my colleagues, in February, 2020, when INEC deregistered the 74 political parties, none of us envisaged that we will be here today to still oversee the affairs of the body of political parties in Nigeria. It is what we had never contemplated. The de-registration of the 74 political parties in one fell swoop, shook us to the marrow, not because that were unaware of its coming, but because the size of the number that was impacted, and made to exit. It had never happened in the political history of Nigeria where that size or number of political parties had to be delisted by the electoral umpire in that sweeping alacrity.

"We mourned but had to move on. We resolved as unified body that political parties in Nigeria had to ensure that it worked hard and smarter to earn the confidence of not only INEC and other stakeholders, but the respect of Nigerians. Like a herd of sheep scattered by rampaging lion, whose shepherd had taken off out of fear of being devoured, we had to gather all the sheep, so to speak; not to let all go astray. It was a rallying mission to rally the political parties together. We succeeded in doing that and had been doing that since February 10, 2020.

"We had planned for a three - month period to get the work done and call for election but whilst we tried to do that, COVID 19 came upon us. The COVID 19 pandemic changed everything about us including impacting on the polity and political activities in more profound ways we had never fathomed. Everything was made to align with the dictates of the new norm, resulting from COVID-19 pandemic with its health and safety protocol requirement(s). The economy shrank, so also the political system in same manner. This affected IPAC and also everything about us. We were to climb out of COVID-19 debilitating impact with the harsh economic and political lockdown when the #EndSars protest engulfed the nation. We were still counting our losses after it’s being tamed.

"In a nutshell, the period in the past few months did not Favour the General Assembly of the body of political parties to meet. And since we have this window, we have to leverage on it.

"A key thing that remained nagging was that of our great body leadership, those to superintendent over IPAC. I am happy that this has been resolved today with the emergence of this new leadership. And I must confess that I am humbled by the collective decision of members of the body of political that can I continue to oversee affairs of the Council with my great colleagues with today’s election and our victory. I am speechless. To you all I say it’s a new dawn for IPAC.

"In the last few months, I and my colleagues have thrown everything into this task to reposition IPAC. Nothing was spared! And now that we have been given the opportunity to administer our great body from Interim status to a substantive one, we are going to do more with the support of all the political stakeholders. We are thankful.

"We did make remarkable and respectable achievements over the past few months with our strategy of deepening engagement with the core and adjunct stakeholders. We will continue in this stride as we go ahead in the weeks and months ahead.

"Finally, I call on all the political parties in Nigeria to rise up to the occasion so that we can work together to rebuild our country together. Let’s come together to work collectively. The #EndSars protest is a wake up call on all of us. NIGERIA, ITS A NEW DAWN FOR IPAC. We are ready!" , Nzenwa stated. NNL.

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