The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) is a liberal progressive party formed in September 2006 through the merger of several opposition parties, including the Advance Congress of Democrats, Justice Party and several other minor parties.
The current name (Action Congress of Nigeria) was adopted at a National Convention on August 9, 2010 in preparation for fusion with other political parties and groups of like mind. Action Congress of Nigeria subscribes to the progressive ideals of the Action Group (AG) and Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), two parties led by Chief Obafemi Awolowo in the First and Second Republics.
The period since 1914 has been a trying one for Nigeria as she struggles with the difficulties and challenges of nationhood. In the 92 years since the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern Protectorates, the country has come through the trauma of several years of British colonial rule, seven military coups resulting in 28 years of military rule, the tragedy of a civil war, twelve constitutions and less than 20 years of civil democratic rule. Added to these are countless incidents of religious, ethnic, political and civil unrest resulting in the loss of thousands of innocent lives. Trapped in a vicious cycle of political crises, social upheavals and economic hardship, Nigeria has become, not only one of the most unstable countries in the world, it is also, regrettably, one of the poorest as well.
This is in spite of its huge population, natural resources and mind-boggling oil wealth. With an estimated 130 million people, literacy rate is only 45%, unemployment as high as 33% while per capital income was below $350 in 2005. The country’s federal structure, designed to be mechanism for mediating the competing interests of its ethnics, religious and regional groups has all but crumbled, leading to agitations for self determination in the East, true federalism in the West, Sharia in the North and resource control in the Niger Delta. Out of sheer absence of trust and confidence among its peoples, political power in the country has been reduced to commodity which must rotate between its constituent parts. The nation’s wealth, on other hand, is cynically described by citizens as a cake, the sharing of which has become an embarrassing spectacle, representing one of the most interesting studies in how not to forge enduring fiscal arrangement in modern times.
The ordinary Nigerian in whose name this vicious struggle is waged has since been lost in the detail. As the political and economic elites busy themselves sharing both power and the national cake, over 60% of Nigerians live below the poverty line. This business of sharing power and the penchant for misappropriation in the name of sharing of the national cake has, aside from generating unnecessary schism among citizens, creating embarrassing disparities between the “haves” and the “have nots”. In the process, all the institutions upon which a caring and enduring nation can be built have been subverted and brought down to their knees: the dream of building a united Nigeria has continued to be a mirage. In a place of united nation, Nigerians have a country in a perpetual state of structural flux, completely alienated from its citizens, abandoned by its leaders and ready to tumble over at the slightest nudge. Like an ophan in the middle of the ocean, Nigeria has become a wrecked ship in the middle of the ocean, Nigeria has become a country from which everyone is prepared to take, but to which no one is prepared to give.
After years of wandering aimlessly towards the edge of the abyss, Nigerians heaved a sign of relief when in 1999 their country chose to return to the path of glory by voting, overwhelmingly, to give it a new lease of life. With unbounded optimism and uncharacteristic zeal, they trooped out to vote for the restoration of civil democratic rule in the expectation, justifiable to a large extent, that their country will put its ugly history, and their ruling elite their ugly ways, in the past. For good measure, they voted for “a leader “ they believed they ‘can trust”. For most Nigerians, the long delayed journey to the promised land of milk and honey has commenced.
It did not take long before their optimism, their zeal and their expectation were dashed. In their eagerness to make amends, Nigerians have elected a president poor democratic credentials, numerous scores to settle, with good and accountable governance furthest on his mind: one step at a time, a new order of governance, worse than any in Nigeria’s chequered past, built on revenge and vendetta, began to unfold. The hall mark of this new order consists of serial violation of the constitution, destruction of institution, assaults on individual rights and freedoms, corruption, and deliberate pauperizations and traumatization of the citizenry. In the end, the only objective of the PDP Administration, as it became obvious by the desperate attempt to amend the constitution, is to exercise brute power for life and for its ugly sake. Nigerians, who ran away from tyrants and dictators all their lives had one lying in wait for them. In seven years of this Administration, they have had nothing to show for their sacrifice.
The Action Congress is here to change all that by offering genuine democratic alternative to Nigerians in the 2007 General Elections and beyond. The alternative we offer our compatriots, by which we submit ourselves to the highest standards of scrutiny to and to which we make an irrevocable commitment are in the following key areas which will guide our policies and programme.
1. Reduction of poverty to the barest possible minimum consistent with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)
2. Creating conditions and opportunities for nation–wide prosperity
3. Creating an orderly, disciplined and motivated society
4. Promoting Rule of Law
5. Expanding individual freedoms and liberty
6. Deepening democracy