By; JACOB ONJEWU DICKSON
Former Director General of the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) and a chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) Salihu Moh Lukman, has called on all patriotic Nigerians to support a new group of eminent Nigerians working to ensure credible leaders in 2023 general elections.
An association of ‘about one hundred eminent businessmen, political, media and civil society leaders, including 14 current governors, 13 former governors as well as three former senate presidents’ under the aegis of The 2022 Committee, recently announced their presence in Nigerian politics.
Reacting to the development through a statement released newsmen Thursday in Abuja, Lukman said the emergence of the ‘association’ presents an opportunity to critically assess the capacity of political parties to serve as effective and competent negotiating platforms for the emergence of ‘quality leadership’ in Nigeria.
According to Lukman, the capacity of our parties to produce the kind of leadership Nigerians aspire is weak. Left alone, individuals with strong financial muscles, whose vision may be narrow, hardly going beyond access to public resources would have advantage.
The former PGF boss said a situation whereby politicians reduce issues of national development targets to partisan rivalries must be discouraged.
“Every patriotic Nigerian should commend the initiatives of the ‘association.’ In addition, Nigerians should encourage members of the ‘association’ to do everything possible to force internal negotiations, which should lead to agreements within political parties leading to the emergence of ‘quality leadership’ in 2023 at all levels in Nigeria. A stitch in time saves nine!
“Therefore, the new political value potentially being created by a group such as the ‘association’ is the possibility of opening the political spaces in the country, including within the current big parties (APC and PDP) to produce higher quality leaders that what would have ordinarily been the case in 2023. It will require some superior organising to produce such a higher quality desired different outcome, which is why such an initiative require the support of all patriotic Nigerians.
“The other dynamic is also the question of providing level playing field for candidates from all parts of the country. There are many leaders across the country and in both PDP and APC who could have qualified to emerge as candidates with all the ‘quality leadership’ credentials being envisioned with reference to any leadership qualification.
“But absence of level playing field in our parties is discouraging these individuals from presenting themselves for consideration. This is partly responsible for why across every part of the country, and in virtually all our political parties, the most qualified candidates for ‘quality leadership’ are hardly in the race for 2023 contests. How is the ‘association’ going to open up the space within our major political parties to ensure that the best and most qualified ‘quality leaders’ are in the race for 2023 electoral contests?”
The APC chieftain said both APC and PDP leaders, and indeed every politician, across all political parties must be made to organise their campaigns based on honesty.
“Requirement for honesty during campaigns should ensure that all candidates who merit being recognised as ‘quality leaders’ must accept challenges, take responsibility and in cases where they fail, accept their shortcomings. No politician should be allowed to take advantage of the frustration of Nigerians as a strategy for winning election.
“If a group such as the ‘association’ want to reposition the country, it needs to take all the difficult steps to compel some degree of honesty among politicians. As a member of APC, I have no difficulty expecting that APC leaders will accept challenges, take responsibility and accept shortcomings. At least, President Buhari is providing leadership in this respect.
“There are also very difficult issues around fair representation in the country, which is producing all manner of agitations. The easiest manifestation of this is the clamour for power shift to the Southern part of the country. Many party leaders across the major parties – APC and PDP are clamouring for this without corresponding initiative to open internal party negotiations based on strategy to achieve agreement.
“In fact, in the case of PDP, it is almost conclusive that no negotiation is being considered on this matter. It can be said without fear of any contradiction that if internal primary election is to take place in PDP today, a Northern candidate will emerge. The potential that PDP will produce a Northern candidate present a very strong challenge to the APC, which will affect the emergence of a ‘quality leader’ as the Presidential candidate of APC. How is the ‘association’ going to manage complex issues such as this to produce the desired outcome of creating a new Nigeria out of 2023 electoral contests?”