By Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The Director General, All Progressives Congress (APC) Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), Salihu Moh. Lukman, has suggested code of conduct for discipline, leadership and membership orientation as byelaw to facilitate internal democratic contest within the ruling party.
In a statement he issued in Abuja last weekend, the PGF DG argued that part of the challenges facing Nigerian politics is the difficulty in institutionalising and mainstreaming political competition within the parties.
He further warned that APC stakeholders that the fact that President Muhammadu Buhari is serving his last term, requires some strategic succession arrangement within the party to guarantee the retention of all the electoral advantages.
Writing under the topic title, “Nigerian democratisation and internal party contest for leadership”, Lukman said: “Part of the challenge facing Nigerian politics today is the difficulty in institutionalising and mainstreaming political competition within our parties. Most of our political leaders are highly resistant to competition. For them, competition should be mainly reduced to endorsement of their leadership and their decisions, including the leadership choices they make.
“This reality has created a situation of permanent internal rebellion within our parties. Anyone, interested in contesting or competing for leadership in any of our parties, must be ready to organise rebellion, especially, if such an aspiring contestant is not part of the inner caucus of current leaders,” he said.
Writing further, he said: “The absence of competition in Nigerian democracy, especially in our political parties is responsible for so many unpredictable political circumstances and is making political leader both unsure and insecure.
“This has basically reduced Nigerian politics to a game of conquest. A major attribute is that political leaders are conquerors, while party members and ordinary citizens are the would-be conquered. Arguably, while in other parties, including the PDP, this is a well-established order, in APC, it is being highly contested. This is because since the emergence of APC, apart from the personality of President Buhari, no leader can be sure of emerging as a candidate of the party for any election.
“In the case of President Buhari, he has such a personal blessing that made him to attract at least 12 million votes in all the elections he contested since 2003. No leaders, whether in APC or out of APC can claim to be in control of five million votes.
“The fact that President Buhari is serving his last term, require some strategic succession arrangement within the APC, especially in order to guarantee the retention of all the electoral advantages. With President Buhari clearly out of the race for the position of Presidential candidate of APC in 2023, there is clearly a potential for a big internal contest in the party.
“The question is whether any of the power blocks within the party will take step to block internal contest and therefore emerge as the conqueror. In which case, the issue is really whether the APC leadership will allow the process of democratisation to ensure that leadership emergence both within the party and at wider political levels are determined based on the choices of party members and citizens.
“Most of the public speculations around internal dynamics in APC today is basically informed by some strategic political expectations and leadership permutations. Unfortunately, a lot of these permutations seems to be oriented based on an approach that seek to strengthen the capacity of some leaders within APC to conquer the structures of the party.
“When members and leaders of the party, for instance, demand that issues of membership register of the party are resolved such that the party is able to have a credible and verifiable membership register, it is being interpreted to mean that some leaders of APC want to take over the party to promote their political ambition for 2023.
“Take over from who? Does it mean that those who claim to be in control of APC now have any credible and verifiable membership records? Why are they not able to make such records accessible to all party members and leaders?
“There is no short cut to democratisation. Internal contests for leadership based on transparent process are irreducible minimum. Once any party cannot guarantee the existence of credible and verifiable membership records, which is up to date such a party cannot serve as a vehicle for the emergence of democratic leadership.
“This is the underlying factor facilitating all the current contestations going on in APC. Such contestations are at best marginal in other political parties including the PDP. This means that while in other parties established leaders have conquered all semblances of democratic openings for any possible exercise of power by ordinary party members, in APC, no leader can impose himself/herself as the conqueror.
“Without doubt, this comes with a lot of challenges, which include the question of how the absence of a conqueror in APC would guarantee democratic contest, for instance. Would fellow contestants respect the outcome of internal contest for leadership? Beyond the absence of a conqueror-leader, there is the need to strengthen internal party rules.
“Issues of discipline and leadership as well as membership orientation need to be taken seriously. This would require a code of conduct, which should serve as a byelaw to facilitate internal democratic contest within the party, spelling out dos and don’ts,” the statement read.