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2023: Postponing February convention disastrous for APC – Lukman

2023: Postponing February convention disastrous for APC – Lukman

A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Salihu Lukman, said if the party accepts the suggestion not to conduct the February national convention but hold it simultaneously with presidential primaries, it will be making the 2019 Zamfara electoral disaster a national phenomenon in 2023.

APC had won the 2019 governorship, National and State House of Assembly elections in Zamfara State, but the Supreme Court overturned the party’s victory on account of invalid primaries and awarded victory to the party that came second, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

Lukman expressed worry that the party is drifting to the Zamfara situation in an open letter to APC leaders titled: ‘Plausibility of February 2022 APC Convention’ made available to journalists in Abuja on Monday.

He said speculation about the convention not holding in February 2022 began to be strong when a letter written by Senate chief whip, Orji Kalu to the APC Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) chairman, Mai-Mala Buni, dated December 13, 2021, calling for the postponement of the convention was widely reported in the media.

“Kalu was said to have suggested that instead of the February 2022 convention, ‘a simultaneous event’, combining ‘presidential primary and election of national working committee members’ hold ‘on the same day and venue to avoid rancour and litigations.’ This suggestion basically means a possible extension of the tenure of the CECPC by another six months.

“It is very difficult to understand the logic of such a recommendation. In fact, if anything, going by the recommendation, it means that the CECPC will be saddled with the additional responsibility of organising all-party primary for all positions for the 2023 elections,” Lukman said.

The director-general of the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) said anyone campaigning for ‘presidential primary and election of the national working committee (NWC) members’ hold ‘on the same day and venue’ simply want a situation whereby any possible dispute around the presidential primary will submerge the emergence of leaders (NWC members) of the party.

Read also: Petrol subsidy: N2.4trn can tackle insecurity in Nigeria – Lukman

He also said: “Those campaigning for the postponement of the convention, which is the possibility that all candidates of the party from all the 36 states of the country to be submitted to INEC by the same NWC members whose elections may be disputed would be in jeopardy and subject of litigation.

“It is very difficult to excuse the CECPC from the campaign to postpone the February Convention. If the CECPC is not interested in the postponement of the Convention from the agreed February 2022 date, why is it difficult to make a formal announcement about the date and venue of the convention?

“Statutorily, by the requirement of the Electoral Act, the party is expected to serve at least 21 days’ notice of the Convention to INEC. This basically means that if the convention is to hold any day before February 28, 2021, the notice to INEC should be given on or before February 7, 2022. That being the case, the temptation could be to argue that there is more time. Some reminders would be necessary at this point.

“Mai Mala, party leaders and indeed all members of the party need to be reminded that the one most important political legacy, which we must all support President Buhari to bequeath to the nation, is a functional, responsive and representative party.

“APC leaders must wake up to the responsibility of providing the needed political leadership to the country. We must remind APC leaders that the process of setting the right agenda to drive governance in the country post-2023 must begin with strong internal debates within the party.

“No one should imagine that agendas set in 2014 or 2019 are sufficient to respond to contemporary challenges, which post-2023 governance will be expected to respond to.”