Immediate past Director General of the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Salihu Moh Lukman, has charged the leaders of the ruling party towake up to the reality of preparing for 2023 election campaigns.
Lukman said without good preparations, APC campaign for 2023 will be reactive and defensive, adding that opposition PDP leaders and their international sympathisers sshould not be allowed to set the tune for the 2023 campaigns, which he said will continue to present APC and its government under the leadership of President Buhari as a failure.
The former PGF boss in a statement released Sunday in Abuja, was reacting to an opinion article written by the Africa Editor of US Financial Times, David Pilling, in the January 31, 2022 edition.
According to Lukman, Pilling’s article signposts what is to come in the months ahead leading to the 2023 general elections.
“APC leaders must wake up to the reality of preparing for 2023 campaigns. Without good preparations, APC campaign for 2023 will be reactive and defensive. PDP leaders and their international sympathisers such as Pilling will continue to set the tune for the 2023 campaigns, which will continue to present APC and its government under the leadership of President Buhari as a failure.
“We must appeal to APC leaders, especially the leadership of the APC Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) under the leadership of His Excellency Mai Mala Buni to free the party from the current high level of uncertainty surrounding the February 26, 2022 APC National Convention. It is important that the Convention is allowed to produce the needed excitement around all the contests at the Convention. Being the National Convention, it should be the highest opportunity to celebrate the party and begin to mobilise every party member to recommit himself/herslf ahead of the 2023 electoral contests.
“Without doubt, preparing for 2023 electoral contests for APC, being the governing party, come with a lot of challenges. As a party, APC must not put itself in a difficult position of campaigning based on propaganda, which in the end will seek to dismiss challenges facing the country and rationalise every action of governments controlled by the party.
“APC leaders must recognise challenges and objectively assess initiatives taken by governments. Where there are manifest weaknesses recognise and accept shortcomings as reflection of commitment to remedy the situation. It is only when there is such commitment that party leaders will be able to win the confidence of Nigerians and to that extent win their support. Winning the support of Nigerians should be the orientation of APC campaign for 2023.
“APC leaders must remove every illusion that being governing party will guarantee electoral victory. In fact, being governing party come with high disadvantage because power is always unpopular.
“Part of what we need to remind APC leaders, ordinary members and by extension Nigerians, is that as a democracy that is gradually stabilising with more than twenty years experience, the question of issue-based campaigning should no longer be hypothetical.
“When PDP and their sympathers such as Pilling are broadcasting that APC and its government under President Buhari has failed, we must as loyal party members and patriotic Nigerians be able to prove that, to the contrary, we have succeeded with empirical evidence.
“For instance, what has been the size of federal budget during the sixteen years when PDP rule this country as compared to the $30 billion today? Has it stagnated, shrank or expanded? What is the ratio of capital to recurrent budgets under PDP as compared to today? What is the success rate of budget implementation?”
While identifying some disconnect between politics and the need to unite Nigerians to work together to address the nation’s security challenges, Lukman said “opposition politicians and their supporters are unreceptive to efforts to mobilise Nigerians to forge strong unity towards ending insecurity in the country.
“Therefore, as part of the preparations for 2023 campaigns, based on strategic initiatives to win the confidence of Nigerians, APC leaders must be very proactive in providing information to citizens about progress being made and challenges.
“It is our responsibility as the governing party to take every necessary step to depolitise the campaign against insecurity in the country. How can a party and its leadership, which diverted $2.1 billion meant for procurement of arms to fight insecurity to their private pocket even have a voice about who has succeeded or fail? Such a party and its leadership should be hiding in shame.
Given all that is happening to our democracy, there must be independent initiatives to engage the debate about comparative review of Nigeria’s experiences under sixteen years of PDP and seven years of APC.
“There is the need to engage this review based on sectoral consideration to support the leadership of APC to develop the needed capacity to mobilise Nigerians to see beyond the opportunist strategy of PDP leaders and their sympathisers, which is to exploit the frustration of Nigerians to win their votes in the 2023 general elections.
“The review of achievements under sixteen years of PDP and seven years of APC is also to compel the PDP to go beyond propaganda in its campaign to win the 2023 elections. If PDP is to develop any capacity of defeating the APC in 2023 elections, it must be compelled to accept its failings, recognise the successes of APC and to that extend commit itself to proposing concrete initiatives beyond hypothetically false rendition of its successes before 2015.
“Every information regarding the assessments of both PDP and APC since 1999 will be verifiable. In this 21st Century age of super information highway, issue-based campaign must be the orientation of partisan politics!