The crisis trailing the future of the national convention of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) continued on Thursday with major stakeholders threatening nationwide protests over comments made by the Director-General of Progressive Governors’ Forum, Salihu Mohd Lukman.
While calling on APC governors led by Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State to sack Lukman with immediate effect, the APC stakeholders, under the aegis of the All Progressives Congress Youth Development and Solidarity Forum (APC-YDSF), said Lukman has proved that he is an agent of a few selfish interests in the party and that of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Lukman, in an open letter to APC leaders, had claimed that there are indications that the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) is bent on staying put in office.
While warning against the postponement of the national convention, the PGF DG also expressed the fear that saddling the CECPC with additional responsibility of organising primaries for all positions for the 2023 elections would worsen the crisis rocking the party nationwide.
Orji Uzor Kalu, a former governor of Abia State and Senate Chief Whip had earlier called for a postponement of the convention, warning that holding the convention in February without sorting out the minor disagreements that arose during the congress would lead to an implosion.
However, the stakeholders in a statement signed by their Secretary-General, Hon. Tobias Ogbeh, said Salihu deliberately promoted his open letter in the media to achieve his alleged objective of destabilising the APC.
They also called on the party leadership to deal with erring members of the party found to be working against its interest.
According to them, what Lukman had done was to practically provide reference materials for “a contrived PDP win in the 2023 general elections.”
It stated, “We find it most unfortunate that the DG decided to exploit the timing of our great party’s national convention to ply his poisonous ware by pretending to make a legitimate intervention.
“It is ironic that Lukman was unable to conceal the agenda he has for truncating the successes recorded by the Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC), which even he admitted has done a great job in stabilising the APC.
“As our Forum struggles to come to terms with the reality that the man who administers the umbrella body of APC governors is a mole within the party and being used by some forces to destroy our organisation from inside, we find it pertinent to alert stakeholders to the dangers that the DG’s continued occupation of that office poses to the success of the APC in the months ahead.”
In another development, a group within the APC, Progressive Initiative for Change and Development, has called on the leadership of the party to ensure all crises in the party are resolved before any national convention is conducted.
The National Coordinator of the Group, Chief Donatus Okereke, told newsmen in Abuja that the party was clearly not ready for a national convention with the crises engulfing some state chapters, urging the national leaders of the party to ensure “proper and thorough reconciliation” before any national convention is staged.
Also speaking with Daily Independent, Hon. Salihu Mustapha, a frontline national chairmanship aspirant of the party, said youths must be given a special priority by the APC if they are serious about winning the 2023 general elections.
According to him, with the impending exit of President Muhammadu Buhari who has guaranteed 12 million votes, the APC needs somebody who has what it takes to defeat the PDP and win the presidential election.
While saying he is indifferent to any method used by the party in picking the next national chairman, Mustapha said the APC needs a leader who can serve as a bridge between the youths and the older generation.
He said, “Already, our number one joker in the APC, President Muhammadu Buhari, who has always had a bank vote of over 12 million votes will be an outgoing president. To compensate for that, we must bring something else that can help the party win in the next general election. That is why some of us who have worked dearly for this project believe in my aspiration.
“They know that I will be a bridge builder and I will be able to connect between the young and the old. When the youths see me there, they will know they have a stake in that party. Lastly, I am somebody who has a listening ear. So, having someone like them will also give aggrieved members a sense of belonging. These members believe that it is time we have a change of direction from having former governors, senators or ministers as national chairman.
“I believe politics is about giving people a sense of belonging and making them feel like a part of the big family. It is also about consultation and carrying people along. These are some of the things I want to achieve”.
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