Says, Oshiomhole should ‘calm down’, Edo elections not about him
.Ize-Iyamu now an onlooker
By Omeiza Ajayi
ABUJA: Director General of the Progressive Governors’ Forum PGF, Salihu Moh. Lukman has lamented that the ruling All Progressives Congress APC is now faced with the challenge of diminishing electoral viability, saying in an era of forceful propaganda by the opposition, APC must devise ways of winning the hearts of the people.
He specifically decried the method adopted for the APC governorship campaign in Edo state, particularly the activities of the erstwhile National Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, saying he must be made to calm down and take the back seat while the party’s candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu is projected as the face of the campaign.
According to him, APC having come out of a very difficult crisis, its leaders and party members “must be vigilant to ensure that our politics is not recklessly managed as to reduce us to the level of just working to win elections by all means”.
He said Ize-Iyamu has now become an onlooker in an election where he is the candidate of the party, adding that the APC must own up to the activities of Gov. Godwin Obaseki, warts and all, prior to his leaving the APC for the opposition Peoples Democratic Party PDP.
Lukman in a statement issued on Friday in his private capacity as a chieftain of the party, said; “We need to remind our leaders that the last leadership crisis was triggered by the deep concerns around the diminishing electoral viability of the party. The reality is, resolving the last leadership crisis with the dissolution of the Comrade Oshiomhole-led NWC has not solved the problem of diminishing electoral viability of the party.
“Therefore, what is it that needs to be done to address the problem of diminishing electoral viability of the APC? Do our leaders even agree that the APC is faced with the problem of diminishing electoral viability? This may be the problem partly because if our leaders are unable to recognise that the APC is faced with the problem of diminishing electoral viability then there is a big problem. In the present day Nigeria, with tempers very high everywhere and all manner of negatively imposed public perception, which are false and mostly engineered by our political opponents, it is only people who don’t believe in the votes of citizens as determinant of electoral victories that will imagine that APC’s electoral prospects are high”, he said.
Lukman said the party needs to recall that with the exception of the Presidential election of 2019, “in virtually all elections between 2018 and today, in almost all cases where APC won, it was marginal”.
He recalled that in Ekiti 2018 Governorship election, for instance, APC won with less than 20,000 votes. “In Osun State 2018 Governorship election, we had to go for rerun before we could win. This was almost the experience in virtually all cases. We lost states like Bauchi, Adamawa, Oyo, etc. where it would have been guaranteed since we won these states during the Presidential election with wide margins. One of the things that should be humbling for every APC leader and member is that whatever is our current electoral credential as a party is on account of the personal popularity of President Buhari. If that is recognised, then we need to check whether we want to take advantage it, or we want to squander it?”, He queried.
Calm down, Comrade
The PGF DG who hailed Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo state for reaching out to his opponents in the last primary election despite winning with a landslide, however expressed dismay at the situation in Edo where he said, as opposed to reconciliation, loud drums of war have taken over the airwaves due to the personalization of the campaign by Oshiomhole.
He said; “Immediately after the July 21, 2020 APC primary, notwithstanding that Governor Akeredolu won the primary election convincingly with 2,458 votes with his closest rival Mr. Olusola Oke who came second polling 262 votes, Governor Akeredolu has been going round, meeting all those who contested the elections with him and negotiating reconciliation. This demonstrate that Governor Akeredolu is magnanimous in victory, at least within the party. With this, it should be expected that Governor Akeredolu will approach the campaigns for Ondo Governorship election based on a strategy of winning the votes of Ondo people. The message he seems to be conveying is that he respects the rights of the people of Ondo State to make their choice and he is offering himself as a worthy consideration to be the choice of the people.
“The reverse seems to be the case in Edo State. As opposed to reconciliation, it is loud drums of war that has taken over the airwaves in Edo State. Comrade Oshiomhole has relocated to Edo State and taken over the APC campaign and the campaign is proceeding in a manner that suggest the Edo State Governorship election is an extension of the personal battle between the Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki and Comrade Oshiomhole. The APC campaign is personalised around Comrade Oshiomhole and the candidate of the party, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu is an onlooker. The soundbite from the Edo APC campaign is so offensive to the point where Comrade Oshiomhole appear to be disowning almost every APC in Edo State between 2016 and now. To that extent, it simply means Comrade Oshiomhole is disowning himself, which may be why he went on his knee begging Edo people for forgiveness.
“We need to appeal to Comrade Oshiomhole to ‘calm down’. This campaign is not about his person. More importantly, we need to stress the point that part of the political vision of any progressive is that once elected into government, we commit ourselves to issues of agricultural development, jobs creation, education, health, infrastructural development, poverty eradication and rapid technological development. APC has ruled Edo State since the time of Comrade Oshiomhole as Governor of the state. Up to today, whatever achievement Edo State experienced under Governor Obaseki, between 2016 and now, APC must own it, just like we should be able to accept some of the setbacks. Anything Governor Obaseki is able to achieve must be credited to APC as a party. Our Edo campaign should be able raise the awareness of Edo people that had Governor Obaseki been in PDP, it would have been impossible for him to record any achievement.
“Based on the personalised way the APC Edo State campaign is being carried out, PDP all of a sudden is coming out very strongly to campaign for votes. If the Edo State APC campaign is to go ahead this way, when APC win the election who will run the affairs of the state as Governor? Is it Comrade Oshiomhole or Pastor Ize-Iyamu? If our party want Edo people to vote for our candidate, Pastor Ize-Iyamu must be very visible and be seen as the face of the campaign. Comrade Oshiomhole should take a backseat and play the facilitatory role our leaders play in all similar circumstances. Lagos state Governorship election since 2007 present a good model. Without any doubt, our leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, may be argued to be very influential in the emergence of candidates, from Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, Mr. Akinwumi Ambode to our current Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu. But once a candidate emerges, the responsibility of executing the campaign largely belong to the candidate on account of which the particular candidate become the face of the campaign.
“It is important that Comrade Oshiomhole endorse a situation where the party is able apply the Lagos model to the Edo State Governorship campaign especially because we want the Edo people to be able to have confidence on our candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu and believe that when they elect him, he will be the one that will govern the state. The responsibility for ensuring that this is done rests with the Mai Mala Buni Caretaker/Convention Working Committee. Good enough, they have setup a National Campaign Council under the leadership of His Excellency, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, Governor of Kano State. Governor Ganduje’s National Campaign Council should be able to assume leadership and take the necessary steps to redirect the Edo State APC campaign to have a clear progressive bearing. As part of those steps, it should ensure that APC campaign messages appropriate all development achievements recorded under the APC administration of Governor Obaseki. In addition, we must take steps to also cut the oxygen supply to PDP campaign, which is presenting our party and our candidate as promoters of violence. Our campaign for the Edo election should therefore amplify messages of peace and what we need to do to achieve that.
Progressive Politics – Which Way APC?
Salihu Moh. Lukman Progressive Governors Forum Abuja
Following the excellent forthright and humble message of Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Governor of Lagos State, in his 2020 Eid-El-Kabir Sallah message to Lagosians, which was inspired by the viral online video of the small charming boy asking his mother to ‘calm down’ and give him ‘last chance’, APC leaders, after surviving a very turbulent time, need to calm down. To paraphrase Governor Sanwo-Olu’s message, our leaders, in commemoration of the sacrifice they all made individually and collectively to save the APC combined with their abiding faith and commitment to promote progressive politics in Nigeria need to demonstrate high sense of self-restraint. Our leaders ‘need to be moderate’, responsible and committed to progressive politics in order to defeat reactionary and conservative politics in Nigeria.
No party in the history of Nigerian politics survived leadership crisis of the magnitude experienced in the APC leading to the dissolution of the Comrade Oshiomhole-led NWC. From the First Republic to the current Fourth Republic all political parties that went through leadership crisis ended up with divisions and breakaways. None survived and remained united. It is to the credit of the APC leadership that after the June 25, 2020 emergency National Executive Council (NEC), the party is united and the leadership of His Excellency, Mai Mala Buni Caretaker/Convention Working Committee is never in contest. All leaders of the party across the country are united behind the Caretaker/Convention Working Committee. Without any hesitation, all party members must pay special tribute to President Muhammadu Buhari for brokering this new era and perhaps our ‘last chance’ as a party to demonstrate our progressive credentials.
The mere fact that we are able to come out of that crisis demonstrate part of our progressive credentials largely because one of the reasons for leadership splits and breakaways as a result of internal leadership crisis in political parties in Nigeria was because of refusal to allow party structures to function. In fact, in our case, the leadership crisis was also further entrenched in the party because structures of the party were undermined, and individual leaders become superior to party structures and attempted to railroad their personal positions on party members. It took less than an hour of a meeting of the relevant party organ, NEC, guided by a leader who ‘belong to everyone but belong to no one’ to resolve a leadership problem that was more than one year old. What that experience should tell our leaders and members is that we should have stronger faith in every structure of the party.
Perhaps, as a reminder, we should constantly emphasise that progressive politics is about being dynamic, action oriented and ensuring that we are able to bring about improvement in politics, government and the conditions of life of the generality of our people. To achieve all of these, we have to be goal oriented with clear vision of what we want and where we want to take our society and nation. For instance, since everything political must take its bearing from issues of electoral prospects, how should our leaders and members conduct themselves such that we are able to win elections at all times?
“The contrast to recognising the power of votes of citizens is to conduct politics based on conquest mentality. In which case then political campaigns will not be about winning the support of citizens. It will be about conquering and imposing ourselves as the preferred choices of Nigerians. That cannot be the face of the Nigerian progressive politics APC want to promote. That is the kind of politics associated with PDP, which Nigerians detest and as a party, APC, we offered ourselves as the alternative with a commitment to mobilise Nigerians to bring about change by way of ensuring that people are first and foremost the determinant of who manage governments in the country.
“It is important that immediately following the resolution of APC’s internal leadership crisis with the emergence of His Excellency Mai Mala Buni Caretaker/Convention Working Committee, internal party debate is promoted on issues of strategies to bolster our electoral viability. This should not be taken for granted. The test for all of this is Edo and Ondo Governorship elections. How our leaders are able to work as a united front and the messages of hope and how determined we are as a party to inspire citizens into voting our candidates should be the focus. In other words, our campaigns and our candidates must project the aspirations of the people and the future our party offers”, he added.
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