By Adedayo Akinwale
The Director-General of the Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF), the umbrella of All Progressives Congress (APC) governors, Dr. Salihu Lukman, has expressed concern over the degeneration of the ruling party.
He said it was worrisome that after the emergence of President Muhammadu Buhari as the presidential candidate of the party in the 2015 election, all the negative characteristics associated with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and all the other parties became dominant features of APC.
He said APC was being corrupted daily and was becoming worse than PDP in some cases.
Lukman, in a statement issued yesterday, said the scope for membership participation in political parties since 1999 appeared to be declining, adding that the main focus of all political parties in Nigeria is to win elections fairly or unfairly, including the APC as it is constituted today.
He faulted the recruitment process of party members, saying that across all the parties, once an aspirant has strong financial capability, the party is surrendered to the aspirant, and such aspirant would then proceed to nominate the party leaders from among his/her loyalists.
He said party offices had been reduced to the centres of control by aspiring politicians with hardly any focus on services to members.
He added that the presidential aspirants nominate party leaders at national levels and gubernatorial candidates nominate party leaders at states, local governments and wards.
Lukman, however, said there was a need for the ruling party to open itself up to ensure increasing recruitment of members and more participation and guaranteeing that structures of the party meet as provided in the provisions of the APC constitution.
He stated: “If anything, the reality is that the last activity of the party that differentiated APC from all the other parties was the December 10, 2014, national convention that produced President Buhari as the presidential candidate of the party for the 2015 election. By every standard, that convention and the primary election that produced President Buhari as the presidential candidate for the 2015 election was adjudged to be transparent, fair and democratic.
“Thereafter, almost all the negative characteristics associated with the PDP and all the other parties became dominant features of APC. Most of the leadership conflict in the party, across all the 36 states, bordered on issues of who control the structures of the party so much that political bullying is now assuming a major feature in the APC.
“Consequently, APC is being corrupted by every passing day and therefore becoming more and closer to PDP and in some cases even worse than PDP. Unlike PDP however, it needs to be recognised that in terms of accommodating dissent within the party, APC is more liberal, largely because President Buhari truly ‘belongs to everyone and belongs to no one’.”
The director-general said immediately after the merger exercise, which produced the APC, there were internal debates towards establishing computerised membership data centre for the whole country, in Lagos.
Lukman said since the November 22, 2014 attack on the centre by the PDP-controlled federal security forces, nothing was heard about the project, until around February/March 2020, when the National Working Committee (NWC) placed some newspaper advertorials inviting biddings from interested service providers to assist the APC establish computerised membership data register.
He added that although no reference was made to the previous APC membership data centre of 2014 in the advertorial, the invitation for bidding suggested either non-availability of a computerised membership register or inadequate register.