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2023: Aside Buhari, no politician controls 5m votes – Lukman…Says, APC requires strategic succession plan

…Permanent plaintiffs stoking crisis

By Omeiza Ajayi

Director General of the Progressive Governors’ Forum PGF, Salihu Moh. Lukman has said ahead of the 2023 general elections, the All Progressives Congress APC requires a strategic succession plan to remain in power, arguing that aside President who controls a 12 million voting bloc, no Nigerian politician can claim to control up to five million votes en bloc.

He also accused those he referred to as permanent plaintiffs in Nigerian courts of trying to always stoke fresh crisis in the party as a means of negotiating their way to power.

In a statement issued Sunday in Abuja, Lukman said the absence of competition in Nigeria’s democracy, especially in the political parties is responsible for many unpredictable political circumstances and has made political leadership both unsure and insecure.

“This has basically reduced Nigerian politics to a game of conquest. A major attribute is that political leaders are conquerors, while party members and ordinary citizens are the would-be conquered. Arguably, while in other parties, including the PDP, this is a well-established order, in APC, it is being highly contested. This is because since the emergence of APC, apart from the personality of President , no leader can be sure of emerging as a candidate of the party for any election. In the case of President Buhari, he has such a personal blessing that made him to attract at least 12 million votes in all the elections he contested since 2003. No leaders, whether in APC or out of APC can claim to be in control of 5 million votes.

“The fact that President Buhari is serving his last term, require some strategic succession arrangement within the APC, especially in order to guarantee the retention of all the electoral advantages. With President Buhari clearly out of the race for the position of Presidential candidate of APC in 2023, there is clearly a potential for a big internal contest in the party. The question is whether any of the power blocks within the party will take step to block internal contest and therefore emerge as the conqueror. In which case, the issue is really whether the APC leadership will allow the process of democratisation to ensure that leadership emergence both within the party and at wider political levels are determined based on the choices of party members and citizens”, he stated.

Membership registration

Lukman also dismissed reports that the scheduled APC membership registration and revalidation was targeted at decimating some leaders of the party as part of calculations for the 2023 contest

There were reports at the weekend that the exercise was targeted at a national leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.

However, Lukman said; “Most of the public speculations around internal dynamics in APC today is basically informed by some strategic political expectations and leadership permutations. Unfortunately, a lot of these permutations seems to be oriented based on an approach that seek to strengthen the capacity of some leaders within APC to conquer the structures of the party. When members and leaders of the party, for instance, demand that issues of membership registerqtion of the party are resolved such that the party is able to have a credible and verifiable membership register, it is being interpreted to mean that some leaders of APC want to take over the party to promote their political ambition for 2023. Take over from who? Does it mean that those who claim to be in control of APC now have any credible and verifiable membership records? Why are they not able to make such records accessible to all party members and leaders?

“There is no short cut to democratisation. Internal contests for leadership based on transparent process are irreducible minimum. Once any party cannot guarantee the existence of credible and verifiable membership records, which is up to date such a party cannot serve as a vehicle for the emergence of democratic leadership.

This is the underlying factor facilitating all the current contestations going on in APC. Such contestations are at best marginal in other political parties including the PDP. This means that while in other parties established leaders have conquered all semblances of democratic openings for any possible exercise of power by ordinary party members, in APC, no leader can impose himself/herself as the conqueror”.

Permanent plaintiffs stoking crisis

The PGF boss also accused those who made the party lose out in Rivers and Zamfara states as trying to use the courts to Stoke fresh crisis in the party.

He said “permanent plaintiffs” in the court, including a former National Vice Chairman, South South of the party, Hilliard Eta are simply negotiating a return to party leadership.

“Most of the needless court cases within our parties, including the APC, are initiated based on the anger that open and transparent leadership contests are blocked. A simple legal audit of all the legal cases by party members and leaders against their parties, will show that the objective is mainly to negotiate leadership positions. Even the recent suit instituted by Mr. Hilliard Eta, former APC National Vice Chairman, South-South, against the APC Caretaker Committee, is basically aimed at negotiating the return of Mr. Eta to the leadership of the APC.

“A major unfortunate collateral casualty of many of the legal cases against parties is the process of democratisation. With a daring mindset of must-win, litigants engage in legal contestations basically to destroy any electoral advantage of the party if they can’t get what they want. This was the case in Rivers and Zamfara state during the 2019 general elections.

“Today, we have so-called party leaders who engineered the APC’s electoral disaster of 2019 in Rivers and Zamfara States, proudly threatening the party leadership with more litigations every time because of the fear of not being able to win recognition as leaders of the party. Instead, of projecting themselves as democrats ready to contest and win or lose elections, we have politicians who are members of APC that are permanent plaintiffs in our courts”.

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