The All Progressives apcap Congress has the advantage to win the 2023 elections and subsequent ones, only if it is able to sustain unity among its leaders and members.
The director-general of the Progressive Governors Forum, Salihu Lukman, believes that the strongest opponent of the APC is within the party itself, and that if it is able to manage the process of internal contest and sustain unity among its members/leaders, it will be able to the win the 2023 elections.
This was part of Lukman’s observations in an article he wrote on Sunday entitled ‘Determining Factors for 2023 Contests in APC.
The PGF director-general also spoke about what he described as the ‘electoral advantages’ accruing to the party on account of President Muhammadu Buhari’s membership, and stressed the need for the party’s leaders to manage internal relationship in such a way that such advantages are maximized to sustain its victories.
He noted that the elections that APC lost in the past were due to internal disagreements and the party’s leaders working against it from inside.
Here, he cited the losses the party suffered in states like Rivers, Zamfara, Bauchi, Adamawa, Oyo and many other places in the 2019 elections, which he said were brought upon it 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 those states.
Lukman observed further: “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.
“APC leaders should also be reminded that it was internal rancorous contest that made APC to lose the 2014 Ekiti governorship election. Similar rancorous contest produced marginal victory for the APC in the 2018 Ekiti and Osun elections. The reality is that if the APC had faced any of the challenges of the governorship elections in Rivers, Zamfara, Bauchi, Adamawa, Oyo, Ogun, Kano, Lagos, Edo, Ekiti and Osun during the 2019 presidential election, winning the election would have been impossible.”
He also noted that the absence of any disagreement during the internal contest for the emergence of President Muhammadu Buhari as the presidential candidate of the party in December 2014 was an electoral strength which helped the party to win its victories in 2019.
This electoral strength he linked to the president’s personality.
“He is the only personality in the political history of the country who polled a minimum of 12 million votes in all the elections he contested even as opposition candidate. And he contested elections under three parties – All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) in 2003 and 2007, Congress for Progressives Change (CPC) in 2011, and APC in 2015 and 2019. This means that no matter the party, his electoral value is constant,” he noted.
The electoral advantage of the APC, he said, is more on account of the presence of President Buhari in the party.
To sustain this electoral advantage, however, APC must manage its process of internal contest for the emergence of candidates of the party for the 2023 elections such that all those who contest with the winners can accept the outcomes and support the candidates.
“Part of the landmark contributions made by APC to Nigerian politics, apart from the successful political merger of opposition parties in 2013 and the defeat of the ruling PDP in 2015, was that all those who contested the primary election with President Buhari accepted the results and declared support for his candidature in 2015 presidential election,” he noted.
And to achieve this, he stressed again the need for the “appropriate organs” of the party meeting and taking decisions in accordance to the provisions of the party’s constitution, such that the processes of electing standard bearers of the party for the 2023 elections will be acceptable. If this is done, he surmised, party leaders will accept the result of the elections and support the winners.
“This way, the presidential candidate of the party can have a very high probability of being supported by all leaders of the party, including those who may have contested the party primary and lost,” he said.
He also identified the need to allow every prospective member of the party the opportunity to register as a determining factor in terms of whether APC will continue to enjoy the confidence of Nigerians.
The PGF DG said the Caretaker Committee and leaders of the party must avoid any situation that could weaken the confidence of Nigerians in the party, which can negatively affect their disposition to vote the party in the 2023 elections.
He also spoke of the need to avoid what he called ‘blind trust’ and the need to regulate the conduct of leaders of the party.
Inability to develop the capacity to regulate the conducts of party leaders, he said, will be injurious to the vision of developing the APC as a truly progressive party, he stressed.
“Once political leaders are able to estimate support for their ambitions, what follows is blind trust for both officials of the party and decisions they take, even when such decisions are wrong and contravenes provisions of the party’s constitution,” he noted.
This he observed was part of the undoing of the erstwhile Comrade Oshiomhole-led NWC between 2018 and June 2020, which he said was characterized by party leaders overlooking and condoning certain actions of the Oshiomhole-led NWC.
“Had all leaders of the party been able to insist that Comrade Oshiomhole-led NWC convene meetings of organs of the party where the required decision to resolve issues could have been taken, perhaps even Comrade Oshiomhole himself would have still remained as the national chairman of the party,” he said.
Blind trust by many party leaders, he emphasized, produce inconsiderate tolerance for wrong actions –which he insisted became the case under Oshiomhole-led NWC, and must be avoided.
No matter the estimation of support or opposition of members of the new NWC to the ambitions of leaders, APC leaders must have very high moral credentials such that when the NWC errs, they are not beyond correction. Or at least they should not be allowed to be emboldened by any division in the rank of leadership of the party to block interventions by statutory organs of the party to resolve problems,” he added.
Members of the party must also not relate with party leaders based on blind trust, he warned. He said members of the party should be able to speak out and critically engage party leaders.
Lukman also stressed the need for members and leaders of the APC to consciously work towards resolving the challenge of bad public image for the party.
It is important that leaders of the party are able to also listen to party members.
“A situation whereby party leaders only relate with members remotely through rallies during electoral campaigns is inadequate and must be expanded to cover sessions where leaders are able to interact with party members to review challenges facing the party and initiatives being taken to address these challenges,” he said.
He said leaders of the party should be able to develop the needed thick skin to deal with criticisms positively. This way, they will be able to make better use of public criticisms.
Lukman said there is no reason why APC and the federal government it controls should be having bad public image given all the infrastructure developments, social investment programmes and agricultural initiatives it had midwifed.
Designated federal government appointees, he stressed, need to produce assessments of comparative scorecards of accomplishments made under six years of APC-controlled federal government as compared to the 16 years of PDP administration.
He said, “Under no circumstances should APC leaders allow a situation whereby the campaigns for 2023 is not based on empirical evidence of work done. For instance, how many kilometers of road were constructed under six years of APC administration as compared to sixteen years of PDP? What was the status of execution of rail development throughout sixteen years of PDP? What is the status of rail development in the country after six years of APC? If the anchor borrower initiative of the APC-controlled federal government has produced rice pyramids in Kebbi and Gombe States, what is the corresponding scorecard of the sixteen years of PDP in the agricultural sector?”
He suggested that every ministry and agency of government should produce similar scorecard, and any minister or head of agency who is not able to produce a comparative scorecard ahead of the commencement of the 2023 campaigns, or use the scorecard to effectively engage Nigerians, should be blacklisted by the party such that he/she is disqualified from any consideration for accessing any elective or appointive position.