By AUSTIN OWOICHO, Abuja
The Director-General, Progressives Governors Forum (PGF), Salihu Lukman, said to resolve the internal squabbles in the All Progressives Congress (APC), the governor Mai-Mala Buni Caretaker/Convention Working Committee has to setup a constitution review committee and present proposals for amendments to the Extraordinary National Convention.
Lukman said this in a statement Sunday in Abuja that beyond proposals for constitutional amendment, there is the urgent need to consider developing proposed code of conduct for elected and appointed officials of the party as byelaws to regulate conduct of party leaders.
He said the code of conduct is necessary in order to prevent situations whereby officials of the party will not abuse their office and conduct themselves in manners that could undermine the party’s commitment to the principles of public accountability or even get stretched to issues bordering on criminal conduct and the probable extension of strategies of political bullying to include the deployment of state law enforcement machinery and officials against fellow citizens and party members.
The PGF boss said the Buni Caretaker/Convention Working Committee needs to be given every support within the party and by extension patriotic Nigerians sympathetic to the APC to be able to put the party on the part of progressive politics.
He said: “As it is today, APC is the only party with the potential of promoting progressive politics based on ensuring that the party is able to put in place credible and verifiable membership register as basis for membership and citizens’ participation. The management of the membership must be such that it makes it easy for records to be updated and accessed.
“For the party to guarantee participation, processes of leadership emergence should be transparently democratic involving wider scope of members. Beyond electing leaders, the internal rules of the party should be strengthened to ensure that all party organs are made functional and the conduct of party leaders, including elected and appointed officials, are regulated to ensure that they project truly progressive conducts and credentials.”
Lukman asserted that, being progressives should mean that APC leaders are taking all the measures required to ensure seamless political contests within the party as a result of which political conflicts are giving way to healthy political contests.
“This would suggest reversal in the process of decline of the party. Should this become the new reality, the APC then could begin to transform itself into a mass-oriented party with expanded membership, developing relationship with organised interest groups.
“Are these going to be the issues for
debate as we move towards having a national convention to elect new leaders of the APC? Or are we going to submit ourselves as party members to the antics of political bullies whose only mission is to force every party member to silence and allow structures of the party to be manipulated to produce candidates for 2023? Time will tell.
“The struggle to make APC a progressively democratic party must not be surrendered to forces of reaction acting as political bullies”, he said.
Lukman also observed that APC is being corrupted by every passing day and therefore becoming more and more closer to PDP and in some cases even worse than PDP.
According to him: “Unlike PDP however, it needs to be recognised that in terms of accommodating dissent within the party, APC is more liberal, largely because President Buhari truly ‘belong to everyone and belong to no one’.
“Many have criticise the liberal disposition of President Buhari when it come to the issue of internal party management and present it as the problem of the party. This is wrong and instead, in fact, it is the democratic strength of the APC, which is making it to stand out as the only party in the country with political contests taking place.
“The major issue is that instead of manifesting as political contests, we are having political conflicts. How can we ensure that what we are having in the APC is political contests and not political conflicts? This is the big task ahead of APC leaders to ensure that the party is truly a progressive party.
“It was because of the very singular liberal disposition of President Buhari that made it possible for the struggle against the arbitrary conduct of the Comrade Oshiomhole-led NWC to get to the level of democratically dissolving the NWC and appointing the Mai Mala Buni Caretaker/Convention Working Committee. But is that enough to guarantee that the APC will be opened up to wider participation of members?.”
He further said: “Given that the most important mandate of the Mai Mala Buni Caretaker/Convention Working Committee is to organise a National Convention where a new leadership will be elected, what are the steps required, which the Mai Mala Buni Committee should take to ensure that the national leadership of the party that will emerge are not nominees of potential Presidential candidates?
“The best way to check whether new leaders are nominees of potential Presidential candidates could be perhaps whether they emerge from electoral contests. How fair was the contest and to what extent could the issue of credible and verifiable membership register support the process of electing the new leadership of APC at the coming national convention? A very credible process should be recommended to sprout from membership registration/verification.
“This should mean that immediately following the membership registration/verification, party Congresses at ward, local governments and state levels hold to elect new leadership. This will have the advantage of ensuring that some levels of political negotiations are activated within the party to facilitate the emergence of new leaders.
“It is possible that, the process may still tilt in favour of some of the emerging power blocs within the party. However, if managed very well, it will be almost impossible for any single power bloc in the party to comfortably dominate the structures of the party across all the 36 states of the country and FCT. This will help to humble all the potential aspirants especially for the 2023 Presidential election, thereby democratising power in the APC. Because power is democratised, no one person can monopolised leadership and therefore impose himself/herself as presidential candidate of the APC. As a result, the issue of monopolising membership register such that it is the candidates that produce party members will begin to be minimised. Also, the party can bounce back and become appealing to citizens.”