A member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) National Working Committee (NWC), Salihu Moh Lukman, has rejected the appeal of President Muhammadu Buhari to Progressive Governors to allow him to produce his successor.
He made this known in an Open Letter to President Buhari titled; ‘Succession and 2023 APC presidential candidate’. He described the President’s decision as undemocratic. Lukman noted the dangers and implications if the president takes such a unilateral decision on the party.
Lukman reminded Buhari that he needed to replicate the process that ensured his emergence in 2015. He said: “As a party, APC must demonstrate much more sensitivity to the challenges of national unity by ensuring that the eventual standard-bearer for the 2023 presidential election embodies a commitment to equity and justice as the underlying principles sustaining the corporate existence of Nigeria as a united country.
“This is not just about representation in terms of where the candidate comes from but mainly about the negotiation framework leading to the eventual selection of the candidate. In the case of the PDP, the negotiation was limited to monetary transactions with the less than 1000 delegates who eventually elected Atiku Abubakar as the Presidential candidate of the PDP. With all the limitations imposed by the current Electoral Act, the delegates at the APC Convention who elect our Presidential candidate will not be less than 4000.
“For a party with more than 40 million members, this is a far cry and will be weak in terms of being democratically accountable in terms of decisions of delegates reflecting expectations party members. Once the choice of delegates correlates with the expectations of over 40 million party members, invariably, it will most likely equate with the expectations of the majority of Nigerians.
“It is important, therefore, to caution our party that we must keep faith with basic tenets of democracy as our main campaign message to Nigerians for the 2023 elections. This was eloquently highlighted in Your Excellency’s message to our Progressive Governors when you stated that ‘the key to electoral successes is the ability to hold consultations and for members to put the nation above other interests.’
“The temptation for leaders to choose their successors is democratically risky and costly. If in 2013/2014, Your Excellency could submit yourself to the internal democratic process, it is important that your successor also follow the same process,” he noted.
Warning him further, Lukman wrote: “It may also be necessary to highlight that a major disadvantage with succession arrangement whereby Governors chose their successors is that it negatively affects the relationship between the successor and the predecessor, which undermine the capacity to influence actions or inactions of successors by their predecessors.
“Recall that one of my arguments was that as President, the capacity of party leaders to influence your decisions will be weak. Without going into details, Your Excellency, this has come to pass. The big fear is that combining both legal and moral authority, being our President, if you are to nominate your successor, to what extent can other party leaders influence your decision?
“If party leaders are unable to influence your decision with respect to the choice of successor, what will be the guarantee that your choice can aggregate the expectations of Nigerians? I ask these questions without prejudice to the unflinching confidence of party members in terms of your disposition to make all sacrifices necessary and make the best decision for our party and our nation.
“Notwithstanding, however, there is the overriding requirement to appeal to you to resist the temptation kindly. I would have wished we had enough time for open debate within our party. Unfortunately, as things are, we have less than one week to settle this matter. Sadly also, a combination of inherited reality and perhaps vested interests of some party leaders, processes of internal debates around this matter are being impeded.
“Even meetings of NWC are not exploring these issues. Even logistical issues of organising the National Convention are being handled informally.
“And as far as our National Chairman, Sen. Abdullahi Adamu is concerned, relating with you and probably directly communicating positions of members of NWC, is his exclusive jurisdiction, which limits you to a selective perspective that may only be self-serving to some party leaders.
“Being a party, which came with the promise of change, how our leader can directly access the views of party members is important. At the risk of again being projected to be against some party leaders, I want to appeal to all party leaders to unite in showing restraint at this point of transition. I want to strongly appeal to Your Excellency to kindly continue to make every sacrifice necessary to provide measured leadership to our party and our nation.
“Your revered status was earned not by following so-called conventions, which have narrowed our democracy. You have always summoned the courage to initiate leadership responses that are selfless based on the commitment to principles of justice and equity,” Lukman noted.