2023: PGF DG warns APC against self destruction

…Says party’s electoral advantage more on account of President Buhari

By Godwin Amunde

The Director General of the Progressive Governors Forum, Dr. Salihu Moh’d Lukman has warned the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to be mindful of enemies from within as the 2023 general elections draw closer.

He made the position known in a statement made available to newsmen on Monday in Abuja and expressed worry over the chances of the ruling APC to retain power at the end of President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure.

“How was the APC able to avoid any of the problems it had in the states it lost during the 2019 Governorship elections at the level of the presidential election both in 2015 and 2019? The explanation is simple, it is because of the personal profile of President Buhari. People can say anything about President Buhari, but no one can deny the fact that his electoral strength is more associated with his personality, than any other factor.

“With such reality, it can be concluded therefore, without any dispute, that the electoral advantage of the APC is more on account of the presence of President Buhari in the party. The question, which every APC leader and member need to answer is, will the APC continue to enjoy such electoral advantage when President Buhari is not the Presidential candidate of the party? Is there another leader in the APC with the towering electoral profile of President Buhari? Whether there is another leader with the electoral profile of President Buhari, is yet to be seen, at least not based on any electoral evidence,” he stated. 

He recalled how internal wrangling and disagreement among leaders of the party led to the defeat in Rivers, Zamfara, Bauchi, Adamawa, Oyo States and many other states during the 2019 general elections and warned the ruling party against self destruction.

“If anything, the lesson from the 2019 elections, which every APC leader and member should be reminded is that APC was defeated in Rivers, Zamfara, Bauchi, Adamawa, Oyo and many other places by aggrieved APC leaders who worked against candidates or leaders of the party as a result of internal disagreements around candidate selections for Governorship of these states.

“Such internal disagreement almost cost the party the loss of Imo State until the Supreme Court confirmed the victory of the APC.

“In Ogun, it was a traumatic victory. Kano State Governorship election certainly had its baggage of painful experiences. Lagos State was a shocking narrow victory, no thanks to avoidable challenges. Rambo political contest led to the loss of Edo State in the 2020 Governorship election,” he warned.

He also stressed the need for unity among party leaders and by extension members to enable the Mai Mala Buni’s Caretaker Committee complete its work of returning all organs of the party to normal operations as provided by its Constitution.

Dr. Lukman, while noting that the APC Caretaker Committee was designed not to have a tenure longer than six months, said the additional six months extension provided by the December 8th, 2020 National Executive Committee (NEC) was necessary because of the challenges of providing a credible membership register, which necessitated the membership registration/revalidation exercise.

He said: “A shared expectation therefore among both party leaders and members around the dissolution of the Comrade Oshiomhole led NWC and the appointment of the APC Caretaker Committee led by His Excellency Mai Mala Buni, was that the conclusion of the work of the Caretaker Committee will produce a new beginning, which may come with strong capacity for the APC to resolve the challenge of manipulating party organs during election of candidates. 

“A factor that may be slowing down the process of ensuring that the Caretaker Committee conclude its work and return all organs of the party back to normal operations is the need for strong unity among APC leaders, and by extension members.

“Noting that the APC Caretaker Committee was never designed to have a tenure longer than six months, the additional six months extension provided by the December 8, 2020 NEC was necessary because of the challenges of producing a credible membership register, which necessitated the membership registration/revalidation exercise.

“To what extent are leaders of the party cooperating with the Caretaker Committee to ensure that the registration exercise is successful? A source of problem for membership registration exercises of political parties is always the ambition of leaders. Are APC leaders creating problems by way of blocking so-called perceived opponents from registering as members of the APC? 

“Once the conventional Nigerian politics is allowed to play out, many APC leaders would attempt to control the membership of the party so that they are able to emerge as candidates for elective offices. How is the Caretaker Committee addressing such challenges?

“Part of the appeal that must be made to both the Caretaker Committee and all APC leaders is that they need to exercise restraint and ensure that every prospective member of the party is allowed to register. The need to allow every prospective member the opportunity to register is a determining factor in terms of whether APC can continue to enjoy the confidence of Nigerians based on which the party is able to win the votes of Nigerians.

“The Caretaker Committee and APC leaders must take steps to avoid any situation that could weaken the confidence of Nigerians on the party, which can negatively affect the disposition of Nigerians to vote the party in 2023 elections at all levels.” 

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