By Al-Ameen Muhammad
“Happy New Year” is a universal prayer that greets the commencement of every new year. The year 2022 to Nigeria and Nigerians will be a year of political activities preparatory to the 2023 general elections. It is indeed a year of politicking.
In 2022, the All Progressives Congress, Nigeria’s ruling political party, would be conducting its national convention, the Independent National Electoral Commission would be dishing and rolling out guidelines to political parties, aspirants and eventually candidates, the political parties would be overwhelmed with campaigns and subsequently conduct their primaries to elect candidates as party flag bearers for the 2023 presidential, governorship, national and state legislative elections.
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The desire of APC to remain Nigeria’s ruling political party and to win the 2023 general elections is natural and obvious. Mai Mala Buni, Chairman, APC Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee while inaugurating the 61-member Strategy and Contact Committee of the party ahead of the 2023 general elections last year, said “We shall work to reposition the All Progressives Congress to remain Nigeria’s leading party and Africa’s largest political party that will stay in office beyond two, three or even four terms of office”.
Buni was quick to add: “Our mission is to provide a wheel that will drive the party to go beyond 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th and even 10th term of office to effectively implement the party manifesto, improve the lives of Nigerians and to remain Nigeria’s leading political party.
Buni’s optimism for the party, however, lies in its ability to unite its members and approach the convention with a united front.
Today, the party’s dream to remain Nigeria’s leading party is being re-engineered by some stakeholders who are vehemently warning against rushing the party into a convention with a divided house. Some of the stakeholders argued that it will be a political suicide for the APC to approach the convention when it is yet to settle the squabbles in Kano, Zamfara, Anambra, Ogun, Oyo and Akwa Ibom among others.
Yes, the political fortunes of APC might have increased tremendously with the high profile defections of three sitting governors – Ebonyi State, Mr Dave Umahi, Cross River State Prof. Ben Ayade and Zamfara State, Alh. Bello Matawalle along with hundreds of thousands of their followers from the Peoples Democratic Party to the APC.
Like its symbol, the broom, APC must be united to sweep itself into another term of office and perhaps beyond. The APC now boasts of over 40 million members capable of winning elections in all national elections.
President Muhammadu Buhari, congratulated and gave the Buni Caretaker committee a pass mark for its efforts in repositioning the party saying, “APC has bounced back to life”. However, the disputes that followed the ward, local government and state congresses, have been a source of worry to many chieftains.
Sen. Orji Uzo Kalu, APC chieftain and Chief Whip of the Senate, was recently reported to have written a warning letter to the national secretariat of the party to postpone the February proposed national convention on the grounds of instability in the party. He warned that if the convention is carried out in February without sorting out the disagreements created by the congresses, the party may collapse.
Many chieftains have already settled for the party to shift the convention to have adequate time for an acceptable and successful convention that would be a springboard for the party’s victory in 2023. Some other voices have gone beyond the mere call for shifting of the convention to conducting the convention alongside the party primary for the 2023 general elections, if APC must win the forthcoming elections. Their argument was based on the fear that the national convention may generate further divisions, disharmony and disagreements, which will invariably translate into APC heading to the 2023 general election with a fragmented house and a ticket to losing the election.
For others, the Senator Abdullahi Adamu-led National Reconciliation Committee should hasten the reconciliation of all aggrieved members and groups for the party to conduct the convention. The committee must convince members who took the party to court to withdraw such cases to pave way for a successful convention. It is obvious that until reconciliations are achieved for the convention to hold without any threat, the convention will be a building founded on loose sand.
The question before the party now is, whether the APC with frayed nerves and amidst several unsettled disputes is fully prepared for a generally acceptable national convention? The answer is certainly No. The party must achieve relative peace for a successful convention to approach the general election.
There is nothing wrong with the party to make adequate preparations, using the remaining time to calm the differing voices and positions for the party to prosper. The interest of the party must always be superior over and above personal ambitions and interests. If it means APC conducting the convention alongside its primaries as suggested by some of the stakeholders, to succeed, so be it. The ambition of people wanting to be party executives to hijack the party must never be a priority to the party as we approach the 2023 elections. Success and victory, are and should remain the priority of the party leadership and its faithful members.
Muhammad is a member of APC, FCT chapter