*Allege ‘chairmanship aspirants hobnobbing with presidential aspirants’
*Zoning chairmanship to N/Central, good idea—Mustapha
*Propaganda won’t win 2023 elections for us, Lukman, ex-PGF DG cautions APC leaders
By Omeiza Ajayi
Concerned members of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, have written President Muhammadu Buhari not to allow some moneybags with presidential ambitions to hijack the February 26 national convention of the party.
The members also asked the president to support the idea of zoning the national chairmanship seat to the North Central.
The group’s demands came as one of the national chairmanship aspirants, Mallam Saliu Mustapha, dismissed reports that the party hierarchy had released a zoning formula ahead of the convention, saying there were official channels of communicating such decisions.
Mustapha, however, added that there was nothing wrong in zoning the ticket to North Central as being done by several groups and stakeholders within the party.
There were, however, indications at the weekend that some of the presidential aspirants were seriously working and deploying necessary resources to ensure their candidates emerged as the national chairman of the party.
An aide to one of the national chairmanship aspirants had told Vanguard, weekend, that his principal, like others, had been meeting with stakeholders, especially the presidential aspirants, to get their buy-in.
“Of course, it is not in the interest of chairmanship or presidential aspirants to make such political visits public because the pendulum could swing anywhere. But I can tell you that like other chairmanship aspirants, my principal has also been meeting with some of the presidential aspirants because they control a substantial number of the delegates to the national convention,” he had said.
Group writes Buhari
In the letter dated February 11, 2022, and addressed to President Buhari, the convener of the Concerned APC Members Forum, Okpokwu Ogenyi, recalled that the APC had been in crisis since it won the 2015 presidential election.
He said the crisis came as a result of a faulty “reward system where a monkey has worked and the baboon is eating.”
Ogenyi said: “Most members of our party are complaining of government patronage, while some persons are occupying more than one position in government.
“Judging by the activities of the various actors, we appeal to Mr. President not to allow the selfish interest of the 2023 presidential ambition of some ranking members to destroy the party.
“We want the President to recommend a highly committed and disciplined member, a man of humility and resilience with acute knowledge of party administration, who will respect both former and serving governors, senators, ministers, party faithful, and of course, the leaders of our party.
‘’This will go a long way in reducing internal crisis in the party, controlling the expenditure of some aspirants, and solving the problem of reconciliation after the national convention.
“We also want to draw the president’s attention to the fact that, immediately after the convention, there is a primary election not far away, and so, the need to minimize our crises and concentrate on the 2023 general elections is very important.
“Your Excellency Sir, in recommending a candidate for the national chairmanship position, which may bring about consensus, we advise the president to look into the records of the various individuals aspiring to lead the party, considering the internal zoning arrangement of the party which is in North Central Nigeria.
“We recommend the President call a meeting of all the aspirants for the national chairmanship position and hand over the preferred candidate to them, instructing an all-inclusive government. This will immediately heal any injury in the heart of any and the course of explanation to his supporters while he stepped down.”
On the issue of zoning, the Saliu Mustapha Campaign Organisation said it would not dwell on rumours or innuendos but on concrete, verifiable information that are properly communicated.
Spokesman of the campaign, Dapo Okubanjo, in a statement, however, urged the party leadership to consider the merits of agitations to zone the national chairmanship ticket to North Central.
He said: “The people at the helms of affairs of our party are serious minded people; they are not known to be flippant. So, as far as we know, party decisions as important and critical as zoning or mode of elections are usually thoroughly debated, arrived at, and properly communicated. It is not going to be a subject of rumours or gossip.
“But be that as it may, the stakeholders that are agitating for the North-Central zone to produce the party’s National Chairman in the February 26, 2022 convention have made their case abundantly clear. We believe the party hierarchy, being people who cherish fairness, justice and equity would consider the merit of these agitations in arriving at their decisions for the best interest of the party.
“We believe our candidate, Mallam Saliu Mustapha, having done his homework as dutifully and diligently as the circumstances demand of him, remains the candidate to beat. He is in pole position from the rest because he ticks all the right boxes as the best man to lead the APC into victory in the next election circle in 2023.”
Propaganda won’t win 2023 elections for us, Lukman
Meanwhile, the immediate-past Director-General of the Progressive Governors’ Forum PGF, the think-tank for governors of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, Mallam Salihu Lukman, has cautioned leaders of the party against being over confident, ahead of the 2023 general election.
He said rather than resort to propaganda, factual and ethical campaigns remained what would guarantee electoral victory for the party.
In a statement in Abuja, yesterday, Lukman also chastised the Africa Editor of US Financial Times, David Pilling, who in his January 31, 2022 opinion article, accused the President Muhammadu Buhari administration of sleepwalking Nigeria to disaster.
He said, perhaps, it was important to admit that Pilling was only responding to the unfortunate reality that while President Buhari and other Nigerians in his government were busy initiating responses to Nigeria’s intractable challenges, “many Nigerians, especially some leaders saddled with the responsibility of steering the affairs of APC have become overconfident to the point of imagining that there is no need to start strategizing for the 2023 elections.”
According to him, so much time is being lost debating whether APC is ready for the February 26, 2022, national convention.
He said: “While as APC we have frozen ourselves, others have moved on and are already planning the defeat of APC.
“Beyond Pilling and his likes outside the country, PDP leaders are daily mobilizing for 2023. A party, which performed so badly has suddenly found new voice that is very loud. As APC, with all the government of President Buhari is doing and many of our state governments, most times, our voices are only louder when we are distressed.
‘’Sadly, most causes of our distress come from normal political contests, which suggests incapacity on the part of some of our leaders. Problems of capacity is largely a reflection of poor leadership recruitment strategy, which is not peculiar to APC.
‘’It is more pronounced now in APC because being the governing party at federal level eludes party leaders and members with a strong self-belief of high probability for electoral victory. This was the case in PDP before 2015, which largely facilitated their defeat.
“APC leaders must wake up to the reality of preparing for 2023 campaigns. Without good preparations, the APC campaign for 2023 will be reactive and defensive. PDP leaders and their international sympathisers, such as Pilling, will continue to set the tone for the 2023 campaigns, which will continue to present APC and its government under the leadership of President Buhari as a failure. “
‘’We must appeal to APC leaders, especially the leadership of the APC Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, CECPC, under the leadership of Governor Mai Mala Buni to free the party from the current high level of uncertainty surrounding the February 26, 2022, APC National Convention.
‘’It is important that the convention is allowed to produce the needed excitement around all the contests at the convention. Being the national convention, it should be the highest opportunity to celebrate the party and begin to mobilize every party member to recommit himself/herself ahead of the 2023 electoral contests.
“Without doubt, preparing for 2023 electoral contests for APC, being the governing party, comes with a lot of challenges. As a party, APC must not put itself in a difficult position of campaigning based on propaganda, which in the end will seek to dismiss challenges facing the country and rationalize every action of governments controlled by the party,” he said.
Lukman added that APC leaders must recognize challenges and objectively assess initiatives taken by governments, and where there are manifest weaknesses, recognize and accept shortcomings as a reflection of the commitment to remedy the situation.
He said: “It is only when there is such commitment that party leaders will be able to win the confidence of Nigerians and to that extent, win their support. Winning the support of Nigerians should be the orientation of the APC campaign for 2023.
‘’APC leaders must remove every illusion that being governing party will guarantee electoral victory. In fact, being governing party comes with high disadvantages because power is always unpopular.
‘’Part of what we need to remind APC leaders, ordinary members and by extension Nigerians, is that as a democracy that is gradually stabilizing with more than twenty years experience, the question of the issue-based campaign should no longer be hypothetical.
‘’When PDP and their sympathizers, such as Pilling, are broadcasting that APC and its government under President Buhari have failed, we must as loyal party members and patriotic Nigerians be able to prove that, to the contrary, we have succeeded with empirical evidence.
‘’For instance, what has been the size of the federal budget during the sixteen years when PDP ruled this country as compared to the $30 billion today? Has it stagnated, shrank or expanded? What is the ratio of capital to recurrent budgets under PDP as compared to today? What is the success rate of budget implementation?”
He said as part of preparations for the 2023 campaigns, based on strategic initiatives to win the confidence of Nigerians, APC leaders must be very proactive in providing information to citizens about progress being made and challenges.
“It is our responsibility as the governing party to take every necessary step to depoliticize the campaign against insecurity in the country. How can a party and its leadership, which diverted $2.1 billion meant for procurement of arms to fight insecurity to their private pockets, even have a voice about who has succeeded or failed? Such a party and its leadership should be hiding in shame,” he said of the PDP.