From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
More criticisms have continued to trail President Muhammadu Buhari plan to anoint All Progressives Congress (APC), presidential candidate with the party’s National Stakeholders warning that it may result to imposition and foreclosure of chances for a free and fair contest.
Reminding President Buhari of his promise to allow his successor work for the ticket in line with what he did in 2015, the stakeholders also urged him to live up to his words.
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Convener of the group, Aliyu Audu, who spoke during a press conference in Abuja on Wednesday, said: “While we recognize the inalienable rights of the president to be interested in whoever succeeds him and the natural desire to reciprocate the gesture of support he received in his 2014 bid to be the party flag bearer for the 2015 presidential election, the APC National Stakeholders believes that the choice of the president should not amount to an imposition or foreclose the chance of a free and fair contest where the candidate who reflects all the values and virtues of the party and has the potential to defeats the candidates of other political parties will be democratically elected.
“We say this because the memories of what transpired at the last national convention of the party where the president picked his choice for the position of the National Chairman and literally forced the other aspirants to step down in a manner that can best be described as an imposition is still very fresh,” the group said.
Reacting further, the convener noted: “Barely a month ago, while fielding questions from newsmen after observing the Eid-el-Fitr prayers in Abuja, the president equally said that he has no favourite candidate for the 2023 Presidential election. Instead, he said the one who would succeed him is “the person that Nigerians elect”.
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“Our understanding of this statement is that the Nigerian he referred to include members of the APC through direct or indirect process should also elect whoever they want to fly the flag of the party in the general elections.
“One then wonders what has informed the change of position of the president on how his successor or any other elected official should emerge. If he is influenced by what is obtainable at the states where governors brazenly handpick aspirants at different elections, then it is imperative to remind the president that he is supposed to be the moral compass for us as members of the party and Nigerians as a whole. As the president and leader of the party, it is a moral responsibility that he set examples for the governors and future elected leaders to emulate and not the other way round.
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“The best legacy President Buhari can leave for the APC and Nigeria as a whole is the legacy of a deeply entrenched democratic process where Nigerians can freely choose who represents them at whatever level in free, fair, credible and transparent processes.
“This legacy must manifest from the APC which prides itself as a party with progressives ideals different from the other stocks. If the so called “established internal policies” of succession in the party fulfills all democratic criteria, we would not be having as much crisis in the party as we have witnessed in recent times.
“As we speak, the ongoing primary elections of the party across the country which ought to have been concluded are still subject of infightings in a number of places. Is this the kind of legacy the president wants to leave behind?
“As someone who came in through a free, fair and credibly contested democratic process in 2015 and also won re-election through the same process in 2019, the president must not only ensure that this standard is maintained, he must keep to his own words and advice as vividly expressed in the January 6 interview that the APC must conducts itself properly and “allow the system to work,” the demanded.
Sounding a note of warning, the Stakeholders said: “What guarantees victory for many political is not just who the candidate is, but the process through which they emerge. If the process is flawed so much as to leave members disenchanted, you are already on your way to losing the election.
“For the APC to avoid finding itself on this path, it must not make the mistake of forcing anyone on the party in whatever guise. The president is free and has the right to have his choice of candidate, but let everyone be made to test their popularity in the field so that representatives of the party in the form of delegates will choose who they deem to be the best, more qualified and popular to win us the 2023 presidential election,” they warned.
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