By Ikechukwu Okaforadi
The Director General of Progressives Governors Forum (PGF), Salihu Lukman, has expressed concern that the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) may defeat the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2023 presidential election, if the party eventually implodes due to the reckless and undisciplined conducts of some APC leaders.
In a statement he issued yesterday titled ‘Determining Factors for 2023 Contests in APC’, Lukman who is a chieftain of the party, said every APC leader and member who is committed and working to protect the electoral viability of the party, should be worried that the strongest opponent of the party is within the party.
According to him, other opposition parties, especially the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), are only a shadow opposition whose electoral prospects are dependent on the outcome of internal contests in the APC, especially during primaries.
Making reference to the past experiences in which the party lost elections in 2019 due to internal wranglings, Lukman said “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.”
He said such internal disagreement almost cost the party Imo State until the Supreme Court confirmed the victory of the APC, adding that in Ogun, it was a traumatic victory, while the Kano Governorship election had its baggage of painful experiences, just as Lagos was a shocking narrow victory, all due to avoidable internal challenges.
While he recalled also that ‘Rambo’ political contest led to the loss of Edo State in the 2020 Governorship election, he cautioned that APC leaders should also be reminded that it was internal rancorous contest that made APC to lose the 2014 Ekiti Governorship election, just as he said similar rancorous contest produced marginal victory for the APC in the 2018 Ekiti and Osun elections.
To this end, the PGF DG argued that truth be told, 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, Buhari winning the election would have been impossible.
“If anything, absence of any problem during the internal contest for the emergence of President Muhammadu Buhari as the presidential candidate of the party in December 2014 was a major source of electoral strength, which made the party to win elections in virtually all the states it won in 2019, as well as won majority seats in both the Senate and the House of Representatives”, he said.
Speaking further, he recalled that it was the towering political profile of President Buhari that ensured that there was a peaceful primary after which all the formidable aspirants supported Buhari, hence it was easy for the APC to win both the 2015 and 2019 elections.
To this end, he said once APC can manage the process of internal contest for the emergence of candidates of the party for 2023 elections such that all those who contested with the winners can accept the outcomes as well as support the candidates, it is possible for the party to continue to enjoy all the electoral advantages associated with President Buhari.
According to him, “How the party is able to manage the process of internal contest is now the challenge. The biggest problem in politics, which compromises both leaders and members and weaken capacity to provide generic support to candidates irrespective of who emerges is the personal ambitions of leaders for elective and appointive positions.
“Most times, leaders and members relate with challenges based on estimation of potentials to win support to access elective and appointive positions. Hardly do leaders and members take initiatives to resolve challenges without some associated expectations, which could be linked to opportunities to access elective and appointive positions.”
He said it is conventional to all democracies that parties in power always have the higher advantage of winning elections, pointing out that to this extent, APC has all the advantage of winning the 2023 elections.
However, he said the big challenge is whether APC leaders will take the necessary steps to retain all the towering electoral advantages of President Buhari, which will require first and foremost that the Caretaker Committee is able to complete its tasks of returning party organs to normal operations in line with provisions of the APC Constitution.
He said this should be followed by allowing organs of the party to take decisions, which should be the basis for the unity of all leaders of the party, just as he observed that taking every step to ensure that conducts of party leaders are regulated to conform to minimum standards is necessary to ensure that all appointive officials of APC controlled government are able to develop comparative scorecards ahead of the 2023 elections.
“APC must take all the necessary steps to ensure that campaigns for 2023 are based on assessment of empirical evidence of performance and not perception”, he said.