Ahead of the 2023 general election, Director General of the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), Salihu Lukman, has called for the review of manifesto of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to strengthen political initiatives for national unity.
The PGF chairman made the call amidst the challenge of insecurity seemingly disunity bedeviling the country.
According to him, the big question is whether the contest for leadership of the country in 2023 will prioritise processes of national consensus building through negotiation and agreement.
In a statement made available to newsmen Sunday in Abuja, Lukman identified inability of Nigerian politician to facilitate political negotiations and consensus building as bane for the current difficulties facing all the geo-political zones of the country.
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“For those of us in APC, the process of re-organisation going on in the party present an advantage. For instance, it should be possible to commence a campaign to review provisions of the APC manifesto to strengthen political initiatives for national unity.
“Will political leaders from all the six geo-political regions commit themselves to implementing agreements that can strengthen the bonds of unity among citizens from the six geo-political regions? What could be the details of such agreements? And to what extent could the agreements meet the expectations of citizens from all the six geo-political regions? Beyond which region produces the successor of President Buhari, what will be the commitment of the post-2023 Nigerian president to specific agenda of regional developments of both the region he/she come from and the other five regions?
“Invariably, how will our political parties respond to the challenge of mainstreaming initiatives to facilitate consensus building activities, involving negotiations and agreements to produce the right balance for equitable, just and fair access to Nigeria’s resources by all sections of the country and all citizens.
“Will parties and their leaders take steps to produce leaders from the regions who can facilitate the unity of the country? Or will parties continue to prioritise issues of regional/ethnic politics at the expense of national unity? At the same time, will parties be able to ensure that once there are agreements on issues that have implications for national unity, leaders are committed to their implementation unassailably? Is there even any prospect that the question of national unity will be a major political agenda of any of our parties?”
The APC chieftain said: “Part of the projection should be to get the next National Convention of the party adopt a new manifesto, which would highlight major commitments of the party for national unity to be use during the 2023 campaigns. Integral to the campaign for national unity is the issue of how the party intend to handle negotiation for the emergence of the standard bearer for 2023 elections. In many respects, these are issues that should be handled internally within the structures of the party with all the confidence that principles of justice, equity and fairness can be achieved.
“This means that the campaign for power shift, which is about writing or respecting the rules of our parties, should be handled within the structures of the APC. There will always be conflicting interests in terms of who determine how agreements are reached internally within parties.
“The reality of our contemporary development as a nation in this Fourth Republic, since 1999, is that during the sixteen years of PDP tenure, processes of respecting political agreements within the PDP have been mismanaged and undermined. With the emergence of our party, APC, in 2013, our leaders were able to skillfully handle negotiations for leadership based on strategic consideration of winning the votes of Nigerians.”
Lukman also called on APC leaders to return to the 2013 mode of leadership negotiations for 2023.
“APC leaders must return to that 2013 mode and handle leadership negotiations for 2023 very carefully and skillfully. APC should continue to work towards setting the right standards for Nigerian politics, which should prioritise national unity!
“Now that 2023 politics is heating up, what is it that can be done specifically to ensure that Nigerian politics begin to focus on mobilising political leaders and establishments to facilitate national unity? First things first; Political leaders from all the six geo-political regions must recognise that they can’t have everything.
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“Therefore, the notion of exclusive possession of everything of value in Nigeria is impossible. Ab initio, political leaders and citizens must recognise that something just has to give for regions to maximise what they can have. The spirit of sacrifice by all will be required in order to guarantee any prospect for regional development under a united Nigeria.
“It however needs to be stressed that any choice made by political leaders, should not be expected to be perfect or unassailable. If choices made by leaders are to achieve the desired objectives of meeting the expectations of Nigerians, they must be engaged by both citizens and leaders must also recognise that they need to engage citizens to be able to win their support.”