The All Progressives Congress, APC National Stakeholders has warned President Muhammadu Buhari against imposing his choice of presidential candidate on the party if he wants to sustain his legacy beyond 2023.
The Stakeholders said this while reacting to the outcome of the meeting held between the President and governors of APC last Tuesday.
The President, had during the meeting sought the support of the governors to choose his successor who will fly the flag of the APC in the 2023 presidential election.
The president had his hinged this request on an established internal policy mechanism within the party where “first term Governors who have served credibly well have been encouraged to stand for re-election and second term Governors have been accorded the privilege of promoting successors that are capable of driving their visions as well as the ideals of the party.
But speaking at a press conference in Abuja on Wednesday, Aliyu Audu, the convener of APC National Stakeholders warned the President that his “choice of the president should not amount to an imposition or foreclose the chance of a free and fair contest where the candidate who reflects all the values and virtues of the party and has the potential to defeats the candidates of other political parties will be democratically elected.”
The group warned the President that the victory of any party in any can only be guaranteed not just because of who the candidate is, but the process through which they emerge.
“If the process is flawed so much as to leave members disenchanted, you are already on your way to losing the election”
“For the APC to avoid finding itself on this path, it must not make the mistake of forcing anyone on the party in whatever guise. The president is free and has the right to have his choice of candidate, but let everyone be made to test their popularity in the field so that representatives of the party in the form of delegates will choose who they deem to be the best, more qualified and popular to win us the 2023 presidential election,” the APC National Stakeholders advised.
The group warned Buhari against the repeat of what happened at the National Convention of the party where he literally picked and forced his choice of National Chairman down the throats of party members.
In addition, the group also reminded the President that he had in an interview with the Nigerian Television Authority in January stated that he would not play the role of a kingmaker in the choice of his successor and any other elective office.
The APC group said Buhari had also at that interview said that he tried about three times to contest for President before he emerged, and so anyone that wants to become the next president should also work for it.
The President, the group recalled had also while fielding questions from journalists after observing the Eid-el-Fitr prayers in Abuja, reiterated that he has no favourite candidate for the 2023 Presidential election.
“Instead, he said the one who would succeed him is “the person that Nigerians elect”. Our understanding of this statement is that the Nigerian he referred to include members of the All Progressives Congress through direct or indirect process should also elect whoever they want to fly the flag of the party in the general elections”
“One then wonders what has informed the change of position of the president on how his successor or any other elected official should emerge?,” the group queried.
The APC group also advised the President not to seek to copy what is obtainable at the states where governors brazenly handpick aspirants at different elections as he is supposed to be the moral compass for members of the party and Nigerians as a whole.
“As the president and leader of the party, it is a moral responsibility that he set examples for the governors and future elected leaders to emulate and not the other way round.,
“The best legacy President Muhammadu Buhari can leave for the APC and Nigeria as a whole is the legacy of a deeply entrenched democratic process where Nigerians can freely choose who represents them at whatever level in free, fair, credible and transparent processes. This legacy must manifest from the All Progressives Congress which prides itself as a party with progressives ideals different from the other stocks.
“If the so called “established internal policies” of succession in the party fulfills all democratic criteria, we would not be having as much crisis in the party as we have witnessed in recent times.
“As we speak, the ongoing primary elections of the party across the country which ought to have been concluded are still subject of infighting in a number of places. Is this the kind of legacy the president wants to leave behind?
“As someone who came in through a free, fair and credibly contested democratic process in 2015 and also won re-election through the same process in 2019, the president must not only ensure that this standard is maintained, he must keep to his own words and advice as vividly expressed in the January 6 interview on the Nigeria Television Authority that the APC must conducts itself properly and “allow the system to work.”
“At this point in the life of the APC, winning the 2023 presidential election is equally as important as who flies the flag of the party in the election, especially if protecting the legacies that the Muhammadu Buhari led APC administration has put in place in the last 7 years is of great concern.
“What guarantees victory for many political is not just who the candidate is, but the process through which they emerge. If the process is flawed so much as to leave members disenchanted, you are already on your way to losing the election.
“For the APC to avoid finding itself on this path, it must not make the mistake of forcing anyone on the party in whatever guise. The president is free and has the right to have his choice of candidate, but let everyone be made to test their popularity in the field so that representatives of the party in the form of delegates will choose who they deem to be the best, more qualified and popular to win us the 2023 presidential election,” said the group.