I am pleased to be here with you for the National Convention of our great Party, the All Progressives Congress (APC). This occasion provides us with yet another opportunity to write a new chapter in the history of the Party. The Convention also comes with the opportunity to elect new officials for the Party.
I want to congratulate us all for being part of this history making event and to specially appreciate the Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) which has been on a rescue mission, under the leadership of His Excellency, the Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni, for successfully piloting the affairs of the Party in the last 18 months and organizing this Convention to elect a new National Working Committee that will take over from the Caretaker Committee.
I am glad the Party under the Caretaker Committee has bounced back to life with the reconciliation of several key and critical stakeholders and groups, who had hitherto left the party or were on the verge of leaving the Party. The reconciliation process gave the aggrieved stakeholders a true sense of belonging and assurance.
It is gratifying that the Party recorded massive and unprecedented defections under the Caretaker Committee administration. APC received three sitting Governors, a Deputy Governor, Senators, Members of the House of Representatives and State Assemblies, and other key officials from opposition parties who defected along with Millions of their supporters.
I am impressed to learn that the membership registration and revalidation exercise undertaken by the Caretaker Committee, has recorded over 41.5 million members. This has proved that we are indeed Nigeria’s leading and largest political party. It also exhibits our numerical strength and the potential to win elections at all given times fairly and squarely.
The successful conduct of the Ward, Local, and State Congresses, the purchase of the National Secretariat which was graciously named after me, and the review of the constitution among others, are no doubt tremendous achievements recorded by the Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC).
This Convention is coming at a crucial time when we prepare for another round of a general election. Therefore, the need to remain strong and united for the Party to exploit the rich abundant potentials at its disposal cannot be overemphasized. We appreciate the right to hold different opinions and aspirations, however, such differences must not be to the detriment of the Party.
Recently, l had cause to intervene in the leadership crisis which was about to cause confusion in the Party. Such internal disputes are common in young democracies such as ours, but we must avoid overheating the polity and not allow our differences to tear and frustrate the Party.
Like I said earlier, it does not do anybody or the Party any good, when we, as leaders, go down so low and resort to backstabbing and calling each other names in the media.
We should learn how to resolve our differences without jeopardizing our personal relationships and the fate of the Party. I want to thank the Progressives Governors’ Forum for heeding to my advice and suggestions in settling the leadership dispute.
Your Excellencies, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, let me seize this opportunity to remind you of the importance of voter registration and education among our party members. This is very necessary for us to justify our large numerical strength during elections. Members must register as voters, obtain their Permanent Voter Card and come out to vote during elections otherwise, our huge population would be of no use to the party.
l passionately appeal to you all to support the incoming National Working Committee to promote unity and avoid sentiments that are capable of causing disaffection and disunity. For those aspiring for party and public offices, your failure to realize such aspirations for Party offices or to fly the Party’s flag, should not be a basis for a campaign of calumny against the party. We should have the spirit of sportsmanship and always support the party to succeed.
However, I wish to enjoin the incoming National Working Committee to as a matter of policy, promote internal democracy and always respect the wishes of the people. We must de-emphasize money politics, and not subject party primary and elections into public offices, to the highest bidder syndrome.
Popular and acceptable aspirants who remain the people’s choice must be allowed to fly the party’s flag in the 2023 elections. We will resist the imposition of candidates. We should also promote equal opportunities and respect for the laws guiding the elections to stand us out as Nigeria’s ruling Party.
It is our hope that the new electoral act which l recently signed into law, would promote the process of election, enhance transparency, fill in existing gaps and add value to Nigeria’s democracy. I, therefore, call on all the political parties, politicians and indeed the electorate, to be guided by the act and all other relevant laws for our democracy to thrive.
I cannot end this address without appreciating Nigerians for your kind understanding and support of this administration. We will continue to do more to make life more meaningful to Nigerians.
Let me quickly urge the delegates in this Convention to ensure that your contributions to the party and Nigeria’s democracy lie in your ability to elect efficient, committed, and selfless members of the National Working Committee for the Party.
I thank you all and wish us a successful National Convention.
God bless APC, God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.