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Top leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC), including former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, Senator Bola Tinubu and governors Wednesday joined other members to register with the party.
The registration, which commenced nationwide yesterday and would last for five days, however witnessed hitches in some states as some members could not locate their registration centres while materials did not arrive early in some states.
It was the first registration of the party after its official recognition last year following the merger of Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and a rump of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).
Atiku, who on Sunday had announced his defection from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to APC, registered his membership of the party in Jada, Adamawa State.
The former vice-president arrived at the registration centre at 2.12pm and was handed a form by the National Registration Officer of the party in Adamawa, Alhaji Musa Umar, which he filled along with an attached passport photograph.
At the end, an official of the party handed him a detached slip from the form with No. 02000841, which will serve as a temporary membership card until he is issued a permanent one.
Speaking after the registration, Atiku charged his supporters nationwide to avail themselves of the opportunity by registering as members of APC so that together they could bring about the desired change.
“To make good on the change that you are earnestly yearning for, I urge all my supporters no matter where you may be to follow in my footsteps and register as a member of APC,” he said.
Also, the state Governor, Alhaji Murtala Nyako, registered his membership of the party at his ward in Mayo-Belwa.
He urged other party supporters to ensure that they participate in the registration.
Like Atiku, Nyako's registration was supervised by Umar, who described the exercise as a giant step in the move by the party to consolidate its rising popularity in the country.
Shortly after his registration, Nyako said: “I want to call on all Nigerians to join us in this great movement because with this development, PDP is dead in Adamawa.’’
In Lagos, Tinubu, along with the state Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), and other party bigwigs went to their respective wards to register as members of the party.
Fashola, who arrived the State Junior Grammar School, Itolo, Surulere at about 10 am with his wife, Abimbola, commenced his registration at about 10: 40am and it lasted about 15 minutes.
Speaking with journalists immediately after the registration, Fashola who said the APC was moving forward from one step to another, urged Nigerians to join hands with the party to reposition the country by registering as its members.
He said although nobody would be forced to register as member, "nobody who wants to join would be left out of the exercise", adding that "the registration is a process that would identify individuals making up the APC and it is open and transparent."
Also registering his membership of the party at Ward F, Ikeja yesterday, Tinubu described APC as a new party for a new nation and that everybody was entitled to register.
He said the party was "demonstrating a clear path that clearly shows the difference between it and the opponents with a new philosophy to show that it is a party for the people and that the people are the owners of the party. You're an equal member with everyone. And it is one man-one vote, and one card."
Tinubu also reiterated that his party has no objection to people defecting to another parties.
Tinubu, who spoke against the backdrop of the recent defection by Atiku to APC while Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau and Attahiru Bafarawa dumped the APC for the PDP, told reporters after his registration that the APC is all embracing and that it respects the freedom of people to associate and move freely.
Reacting to Bafarawa and Shekarau's defection to the PDP, Tinubu said: "My philosophy is freedom of movement. There are bound to be disagreements. They are allowed to remain or leave based on their acceptance of the philosophy of the party."
Thousands of party members, including Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, also trooped out to their wards in the state to register with APC.
Amosun told reporters shortly after he registered at Ajura Ward in Obafemi Owode Local Government Area that APC was sure of victory in the 2015 elections as voters have seen what it could do in states where it is the ruling party.
He said: "You know our party APC is a party of peace, progress and we don't know anything about violence. Our party is not a party of violence, There is no party that can prove a threat to APC come next elections."
A former governor of the state, Chief Olusegun Osoba, who also participated in the exercise in Abeokuta, said the exercise was important as "the essence of this exercise is that we want to be democratic and mobilise people and get our members to be involved in the elections of all officers at all levels."
The interim Chairman of APC in Ekiti State, Chief Jide Awe, said the target was to register 100,000 members.
Awe, who spoke in his Erinjiyan Ekiti country home while observing the ongoing registration, lauded the large turnout of members across the 16 local government areas of the state.
He added that the party had deployed materials and personnel to ensure smooth take-off of the exercise in all the designated registration centres.
The party is also targeting to register some 400,000 members in Borno State.
The state Publicity Secretary of the party, Mohammed Auwal Hamza, told reporters yesterday that the party was expecting 100 registered members from each of the 4,000 polling units.
Reacting to the challenges of insecurity in some local governments, especially in the wake of the Boko Haram insurgency, Hamza said necessary arrangements had been made with security agencies and caretaker chairmen of the 27 local governments.
Protests however marred the commencement of the membership drive in Edo State.
The exercise was characterised by complaints of irregularities as supporters of the various groups engaged in recriminations over late arrival of materials, absence of officials and demand for voters' cards.
At many registration venues in Benin City, the state capital, where potential party members gathered for the exercise, it was observed that many officials failed to turn up with relevant materials and where they did, the cards were either not enough or registers were missing.
Some of the officials allegedly came with names already written on registers which ought to be blanks.
Besides, fake membership cards were also said to be in circulation in some venues, while party faithful accused officials of deliberately making registration materials available in areas where some governorship aspirants are popular.
Dr. Edoba Omoregie, a former deputy legal adviser of the defunct ACN, told reporters in Ward 9 Egor Local Government Area that, "against the clear provisions of the APC constitution, many members were denied registration in their wards".
In Rivers State, the state chapter of the party accused PDP and the Grassroots Development Initiative (GDI) of plans to disrupt the membership registration.
The party accused the PDP and GDI of planning to unleash terror on registration officers and members of the APC in the state.
But the PDP denied the allegations, saying the APC is jittery and showing signs of defeat.