From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
Strong indications emerged on Monday that fresh crisis may engulf the All Progressives Congress (APC) over the proposed extension of the tenure of the Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee.
While kicking against the extention in a statement he issued in Abuja, the Director-General APC Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), Salihu Moh. Lukman, alleged that the proposed extension has strengthened the suspicions that the Caretaker Committee is reluctant to organise a National Convention for election of the party’s new leadership.
Writing under the title, ‘APC’s litmus tests’, the PGF DG also warned party members to avoid situations where political touts are elected to the party’s national leadership.
He further warned the APC Caretaker Committee not to abuse the President’s confidence by delaying the National Convention of the party, stressing that no party in Nigeria has the liberal atmosphere provided in APC.
“Somehow, the reality is that in terms of convening meetings of organs of the party, for more than nine months, the Caretaker Committee has not convened any meeting of any organ of the APC apart from the emergency NEC meeting of December 8, 2020. Sadly, even the 13-member Caretaker Committee is hardly meeting.
“Part of the indication is that most decisions taken by the Caretaker Committee were done by the Chairman, Mai Mala Buni and the Secretary, Sen. Akpan Udoedehe. The good thing is that the major challenge of ensuring that the party is able to have a verifiable membership register is being resolved.
“But without organs meeting as provided in the constitution of the party, where progress reports are given, what is the guarantee that the old problem of having inaccessible membership register will not be replicated. Already, given that the party’s membership registration/revalidation exercise was done based on the old analogue method without applying modern virtual technology, what is the guarantee that the process of leadership reformation in the party, from ward congresses up to National Convention, will be done based on the new register? Will all members of the party be able to participate in the process of electing leaders of the party at all levels?
“The test of whether the process of candidates’ selection for election will accommodate broader participation of members of the party is the extent to which all members of the party participate in the election of leaders.
Once election of leaders of the party is handled by few delegates, it is almost logical that it will be few delegates that will elect standard bearers of the party for elections.
“Given all the development in APC, especially against the background that most of the expectations around the Caretaker Committee are yet to be met, it will be important to review challenges facing the party and perhaps appeal to APC leaders to get the Caretaker Committee to urgently conclude the membership registration/verification exercise.
“The needless extension of the exercise only serves to strengthen suspicions that the Caretaker Committee is reluctant to organise a National Convention where new leadership of the party will be elected. Based on what has been done so far, the minimum requirement should be that records of members of the party are displayed in all wards and copies made available to Local Governments, States and National Secretariat.
“With membership records displayed, timetable for Congresses and National Convention should be set. Under no circumstances should there be any contemplation of extending the tenure of the Caretaker Committee. In order to ensure that no extension is being considered, Committees for Congresses and National Convention should be established without any further delay.
Similarly, the dates for Congresses and National Convention should be decided.
“Once that is done, negotiation and campaigns for the emergence of party leadership at all levels can commence. Negotiation and campaigns for leadership of the party has already started in a low scale. Many caucuses have emerged and some of the issues that will dictate the emergence of new party leaders would include the conventional approaches of zoning and relationship with power blocs in the party. Old affiliations such as membership of the merged parties that form the APC will come up.
“The negotiation will not be easy and if not carefully managed, especially against the background that the Caretaker Committee has not done much to broaden the process of membership participation in decision making within the party, there is a very high possibility that the party will be weakened in terms of conforming with basic democratic principles and progressive ideals,” he noted.
Lukman equally set creteria for election of nationalleadership, stressing: “Perhaps, what APC leaders need to do to be able to develop some enabling environment for the emergence of leaders of the party, especially at national level, leaders that can put the party on a good footing to begin to resolve challenges, is to identify people with good relationship across all the power blocs. APC must avoid situations where political touts are elected to the party’s leadership.
“APC should elect leaders that can inspire strong belief in members, and by extension Nigerians, that the party is working to resolve its challenges. Once political touts are the new leaders of the party, it simply means weak capacity to resolve challenges facing the party. Instead, the challenges may become worse.
“In particular, the National Chairman and National Secretary should be people with excellent relationship across all the power blocs. These power blocs are known and permutations for 2023 elections are already crystalising around them. Under no circumstance, should anyone who has declared opposition to any of the power blocs be considered as either a National Chairman or National Secretary.
“Similarly, no one with any form of subsidiary ambition to contest for any elective post be considered for any of the national offices. In addition, the National Secretary should have both political and administrative skills to manage the process of negotiating the re-organisation of the National Secretariat of the party,” he quipped.
Lukman equally advised the Caretaker Committee, noting: “APC is the only party where contestation is taking place and leaders recognise the challenges facing the party. If democracy is about contestation, with all its problems, APC represent the hope for a democratic Nigeria. For that to become reality, APC must pass all its litmus tests.
“A strong pillar, which is the catalysing element for the party to be able to pass all its litmus tests is the liberal leadership of President Buhari, based on which he doesn’t interfere in the management of the party. The Caretaker Committee must not abuse the President’s confidence by delaying the National Convention of the party. No party in Nigeria has the liberal atmosphere provided in APC,” he charged.
However, reacting to his allegations, a member of the Caretaker Committee who spoke in confidence, said the party won’t join issues with him, noting: “at the opportune time we will reply him. Let him continue talking.”