By Omeiza Ajayi
Ahead of 2023 and in what could be an indication of the party’s thoughts on zoning, a chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and Director General of the Progressive Governors’ Forum PGF, Salihu Moh. Lukman, has said party tickets for all elections are open to contestation from politicians from all geopolitical zones, as the APC has not foreclosed such aspirations.
Speaking in Abuja, Lukman said neither President Muhammadu Buhari nor the party leadership has foreclosed the chances of any of the zones to take a shot at the presidency in the next general elections.
His views came against last week’s defection of Ebonyi State Governor, Engr Dave Umahi from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to the APC.
Umahi had premised his decision on what he said was the unfair disposition of his former party to his Southeast zone, saying the PDP has not done enough for the zone.
Lukman who coordinates the policy think-tank of the APC Governors said Umahi was welcomed to the fold, as the party would provide a level playing field for all.
“For instance, everybody could see that the place is open whether you call it with reference to 2023 or reference to any election, it is about the fact that the spirit of political contest in the party is now very high. It means that if you want to negotiate as a good negotiator if you want to canvass as a good canvasser for a specific interest, the party is up to you.
“The pertinent point to make here is that nobody can say President Buhari has decided or there is a decision on the party, this is where it would go. That is why in the whole speculation out there in the public, you will see that there are so many names that are being put in the public space which means that in 2023 there would be a contest in APC.
“And if you are a politician, what are you looking for, is it not contest? So you go to where you know that if you play your card very well, there is a 50-50 chance that you can get what you want, when you want it and where you want it. That is the message now which the President has nurtured and popularized in the APC. By extension, it serves as a death knell in political contests in Nigerian politics. What we are saying is that foreclosure in our political contests is dead.”
Asked how practicable it is to provide such a level playing field to all contestants, Lukman said: “Of course it is enforceable and it is being enforced. Sound politics is impossible where there is a foreclosure. In APC today, I can assure you that it is not going to be where you can tell there is a foreclosure.
“So, this is the attraction in APC and that is why it is significant for us in APC in spite of all the slander that APC is anti-South East notwithstanding all the initiatives of the Federal Government in terms of the sound and credible development initiative currently in place in the South East.
“That is why you now see a governor of the calibre, competence, and credibility of Governor Umahi in the southeast saying no, no, where I am there is no justice. He has not said where he is going he is guaranteed of justice but he is absolutely sure that if he plays his card well in his new environment, there is the likelihood that he will get adequate justice.”