By Ikechukwu Okaforadi
The Director General of Progressives Governors Forum (PGF), Salihu Lukman, has alleged that the choice of Yemi Osinbajo, as the running mate to President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 election, has undermined the capacity of All Progressives Congress (APC) to exercise strong influence in decisions of Buhari administration, both in his first and second term.
In a statement issued yesterday by the PGF DG, he claimed that Osinbajo was chosen as Buhari’s running mate outside the party’s formal structures, which he said could be deliberate, regretting that since that decision in 2015, little or no efforts has been made in the business of party building, which was practically suspended.
“Once the party is able to produce candidates at all levels for the 2015 general elections, which ended with the December 10, 2014 National Convention that produced President Buhari as the party’s Presidential candidate, attention shifted to winning the 2015 election at various levels.
“And having won the 2015 elections at federal and 22 states, attention shifted to lobbying for appointments into both Federal and State Governments. The business of party building was practically suspended.
“In fact, once President Buhari emerged as the Presidential candidate of the party, negotiation for the selection of running mate was done outside the formal structures of the party.
“This is perhaps, one of the steps taken, consciously or unconsciously by power blocs within the party that undermined the capacity of the party to be able to exercise strong influence in many of the decisions of President Buhari’s administration both during his first term and now, in this his second term”, Lukman said in the statement.
In addition, he revealed how aspirants in 2015 general election across the country, positioning themselves to highjack the party structures at their respective levels, hugely manipulated the party membership records, pointing out that it was at this juncture that the ‘conventional politics’ of aspiring candidates taking over control of party structures reared its stubborn face in the young APC.
“…the various Congress Committees for Wards, Local Governments and States encountered problems of reconciling membership records, which were largely manipulated by aspiring candidates for the 2015 general elections positioning themselves to ensure control of party structures.
“A clear indication that conventional politics of aspiring candidates taking over control of party structures was already rearing its stubborn face in the young APC. This created many disputes during Ward Congresses across the country, which was partly responsible for the decision to conduct the Local Government and State Congresses based on the delegate system since Ward leaders have already emerged”, according to Lukman.
While highlighting the efforts by the party to establish a membership data base which will be democratically accessible, Lukman said “This was the first of its kind undertaken by any political party and it underlined the commitment of APC leaders to produce a party, which is democratically controlled by members of the party.
“This implied that members will be able to produce both leaders of the party and candidates for elections as against the prevailing practices of some few delegates dictating the process. As part of those initial debates, there was the decision that every election in the party, during Congresses, Convention and Primary will be based on the direct method, which will require every party member to take part.
“This was employed during the Ward Congresses of April 5, 2014. Part of the challenge was that the Congresses held at the time when the APC membership Data Centre was being setup and therefore records of membership wasn’t very organised.”
He said also that the efforts by the party to establish a nationwide data base of members did not materialize due to invasion and vandalism of the center by the Department of States Services (DSS) in 2015, on the allegation that the party was cloning the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) voters cards.
“In April 2014, the vision still remained that candidates’ selection process within the APC will be conducted based on the direct method involving every member of the party. To achieve that, under the Chief Bisi Akande leadership, the party invested considerable resources to complete the membership Data Centre before the commencement of candidates’ selection for the 2015 general elections.