As the battle for the location of the 2023 presidential ticket rages within the two major political parties, Salisu Mohd Lukman, Director General of the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), has admitted that politics over where the presidency will be zoned is threatening the unity of APC leaders and, ultimately, the party.
The situation he described is exacerbated by the VAT controversy and the recent alignment between Lagos State and Rivers, which he described as scandalous.
According to Lukman, party leaders and the APC itself have been equally deterred from responding to an alleged false narrative churned out by the opposition party that portrays President Mohammadu Buhari’s administration as a failure due to the country’s growing insecurity.
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He observed that a situation in which leaders of the party in the South of the country would go outside the APC structures to push for negotiations for a power shift in 2023 clearly undermines the ruling party’s unity.
Recall that the Southern Governors Forum resolved at their meeting in Enugu State last month to withdraw from any party that fails to zone its 2023 presidential ticket to the South, in accordance with the unwritten agreement between politicians from the country’s southern and northern regions.
As if dining with the enemy, the APC chieftain said such loose collaboration outside the APC structures and with a major opposition party is concerning and blamed it on excessive politicization of issues in the country, including security.
Lukman linked the Southern Governors’ bipartisan decision to the Rivers and Lagos State governments’ alliance on the issue of VAT, reminding party leaders that “the campaign for power shift is about writing or respecting our party’s rules.”
“This (power shift) should be handled within the APC structures. It is demeaning for APC leaders who are statutory members of all relevant structures of the party that are competent to make a final decision on the matter to go outside the party structures and form a partnership with PDP leaders to compel a decision, one way or the other. It simply means a lack of trust in the party’s structures, which in this case could not have been the case,” he explained.
Regarding the VAT saga, Lukman urged Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to reverse his decision and negotiate directly with the federal government.
“To say the least, the recent collaboration between Lagos and Rivers States in relation to the legal dispute over Value Added Tax against the Federal Government is very disturbing.
” Without prejudice to the grievances of the Lagos State Government, all party members and leaders should appeal to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to initiate processes of direct engagement with the Federal Government to resolve all issues.
It is politically irresponsible for an APC state to sue the APC federal government.
“Everything, including the mobilization for power shift outside the APC and the legal case between Lagos State and the Federal Government, necessitates that our leaders be open to themselves. Aside from being open, APC leaders should be disciplined and respectful of one another.