By Godwin Amunde
The Director General of the Progressives Governors Forum (PGF), Salihu Mohammed Lukman, said regular meetings by the All Progressives Congress (APC) bigwigs and power brokers between 2013 and 2014 was what led to President Muhammadu Buhari’s victory in 2015.
He added that APC must therefore adopt the model it used in the build up to the 2015 general election to win the 2023 presidential poll.
Speaking with newsmen on Monday in Abuja, during the presentation of his new book titled, “APC and Progressive Politics in Nigeria” Lukman urged party leaders to unite and return to the era of holding regular meetings without sidelining those with opposing views ahead of 2023.
The PGF boss also said APC needs to demonstrate its progressive credentials by putting in place a credible and verifiable membership register.
“Part of what is needed in the circumstance is to remind our leaders that one of the factors that ensured that our leaders were united, which made the electoral victory of 2015 possible was that they were meeting almost on weekly basis.
“It wasn’t factional meetings, all our leaders attended almost all these meetings and they respected every decision.
“I can recall with nostalgic feelings that between 2013 and December 2014, President Buhari, Alh. Atiku Abubakar, Sen. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso and Owelle Rochas Okorocha were in attendance in virtually every meeting.
“The only person who later emerged as Presidential aspirant under the party but wasn’t at such meetings was Mr. Sam Nda Isiah. This was perhaps because he wasn’t qualified as a political stakeholder to be among those to be invited.
“I will continue to remind our leaders that at no time did any of our leader who aspired to emerge as Presidential candidate get criminalised. As a very junior appointee of the party, some of us even took hardline public positions against the aspiration of President Buhari for instance. But at no time did President Buhari or any of the other leaders who aspired to be the party’s Presidential candidate made it an issue. They related with all of us with the full knowledge of our public position.
“Perhaps, the remarks by our leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu in January 2013 during the public presentation of my first publication 2015 Manifestation of Nigerian Opposition Politics captured this point. Asiwaju clearly expressed his disagreement with positions I canvassed in the publication, which was against both President Buhari and Asiwaju expressing Presidential ambition during the merger negotiation.
“The truth is our leaders were united because they exhibited high level of tolerance, which contributed to making the party attractive. These are progressive credentials which the party and our leaders must return to,” he said.
According to the PGF boss, making APC to emerge as a truly progressive party “will require that our leaders at all levels are able to tolerate each other and as well as tolerate members and Nigerians at large.”
While calling for credible and verifiable membership register, Lukman said: “Credible and verifiable membership register should be the foundation for internal democracy within the party.
“Secondly, our leaders should work to win the votes of party members in order to emerge as candidates.
“Difficult as it is, we need to begin to develop strategy that move our leaders away from the strategy of controlling party structures through imposing leaders in order to emerge as candidates for elections. This is virtually the source of almost all internal conflicts.”