The Director General of the Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF), Salihu Lukman, has said the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) will remain its own major opponent in future polls if internal discord among its leaders persists.

Mr Lukman stated this in a statement on Monday.

PGF is the umbrella body of the governors elected on the platform of the APC.

Known for his political jabs against his party leadership, Mr Lukman said the contest among the APC leaders could affect its chances in the 2023 general elections.

He said he envisaged the possibility of his party losing more states to the main opposition, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), because of the perceived reckless and undisciplined conducts of some of its leaders in the race for power.

“An inconvenient reality, which every APC leader and member, committed and working to protect the electoral viability of the party, should be worried about is that the strongest opponent of the APC is within the APC,” Mr Lukman said.

“The truth is, other parties, especially the PDP, are shadow opposition whose electoral prospects are largely dependent on the outcome of internal contests in the APC, mainly because of the reckless and undisciplined conducts of some APC leaders,” he noted.

Since its emergence in 2015 general elections, the APC has recorded facets of leadership crises across its structures at the national and state levels.

As a result of this internal discord, the party lost some states like Zamfara, Bauchi, Adamawa and Oyo in 2019 governorship elections to the PDP.

With reference to these and prevalent realities, the PGF DG spoke about the chances of the APC in 2023 if its leaders fail to take appropriate steps before the end of President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure.

He said it was doubtful that the APC has another leader within its fold that has Mr Buhari’s electoral profile.

He said, “With such reality, it can be concluded therefore, without any dispute, that the electoral advantage of the APC is more on account of the presence of President Buhari in the party.

“The question, which every APC leader and member needs to answer is, will the APC continue to enjoy such electoral advantage when President Buhari is not the Presidential candidate of the party? Is there another leader in the APC with the towering electoral profile of President Buhari?

“These are not easy questions to answer, although it can also be easily expected that every APC leader and member would want APC to continue to have all the electoral advantages associated with President Buhari.”

Mr Lukman also identified the process of managing the APC internal contest for the emergence of candidates of the party for the next general elections and personal ambitions of leaders as parts of its core problems.

“Once APC can manage the process of internal contest for the emergence of candidates of the party for 2023 elections such that all those who contested with the winners can accept the outcomes as well as support the candidates, it is possible for the party to continue to enjoy all the electoral advantages associated with President Buhari. How the party is able to manage the process of internal contest is now the challenge,” he said.

“The biggest problem in politics, which compromises both leaders and members and weakens capacity to provide generic support to candidates irrespective of who emerges, is the personal ambitions of leaders for elective and appointive positions.

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“Most times, leaders and members relate with challenges based on estimation of potentials to win support to access elective and appointive positions. Hardly do leaders and members take initiatives to resolve challenges without some associated expectations, which could be linked to opportunities to access elective and appointive positions.”

Mr Lukman cautioned the party leaders against blind trust and called on Mala Buni-led interim leadership to prioritise the regulation of conduct of political leaders now that the APC has become a ‘go-to party in Nigeria politics.”

“As much as it is a welcome development that the party is winning new members, there must be corresponding effort to regulate the conduct of party leaders, based on which efforts are made to provide new orientation to all party leaders, especially the newcomers,” he warned.

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