Ahead of the 2023 general election, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has started succession planning, with the party keen to retain power after the tenure of President Muhammadu Buhari.
At the first Progressives Youths Conference held at International Conference Centre (ICC), Abuja, yesterday, party stakeholders outlined the vision of the party going forward and the need to bring up the right kind of people who embody the party’s ethos and infuse them in sensitive positions to drive the party’s manifestos into achievable leadership output.
Speaking at the event, President Buhari urged the youths to brace up for leadership and not despair in the effort at nation building.
Buhari, who was represented by the secretary to the government of the federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, said, “I implore you all to never despair, nor relent in our joint task of nation building. Remember, we have no other country but Nigeria. It is the responsibility of everyone of us to work towards the development and advancement of this country.”
Commending the organisers on the theme of the programme, ‘The Future is a Decision,’ the president said:,”I’m very pleased to know that the theme of this conference provides an opportunity for creating a movement while the future is a decision we make today,” he said, urging them to “seize the opportunity to put unpleasant experiences and controversies of the past behind us as we forge a better future for the APC and for our dear country, Nigeria.”
While noting that the party is conscious of the need to create a legacy that will stand the test of time, he said, “This conference is, therefore, very timely, coming up not too long after our party membership registration exercise and just before the commencement of congresses, starting from our wards.”
He expressed optimism the “deliberations today will have a notably impact on the party’s activities and even trickle down to my administration.”
While noting he was mindful “of the fact that this administration came into leadership on the back of the victory achieved at the polls by the party on two consecutive occasions”, he stressed that “it is therefore pertinent that we remain bound by the tenets of the APC manifesto and constitution”.
“While those documents might not be perfect, they were put together so that elected and appointed members of the party conduct themselves in most responsible manner possible, while implementing and executing policies that are not only beneficial but fair to all Nigerians.
“So far, all the policy initiatives, projects and even appointments by this administration has been guided by equity and inclusiveness. There is actually no part of the country that has not been impacted positively in the areas of infrastructure, agriculture and economic support initiatives based on peculiarities of the regions.”.
In his address, Yobe State governor and APC caretaker committee chairman, Mai Mala Buni, said the youths of the party had a major role to play in the development of both the party and the country.
“As the theme of the conference suggests, the decision for the future of this party and country cannot be at any other time better than now when the corporate unity and security in the country are being challenged.
“You should, therefore, exploit all available opportunities to assiduously work towards promoting national unity, democracy and dialogue. I assure you the support of the party in investing in the unity and future of Nigeria.”
He also advised them to shun every form of vice but to rather put their energy into creative and developmental issues.
“As the most energetic segment of the population, retrogressive elements with evil interests in causing confusion, creating and fanning hate and disunity will always rely on you to achieve such negative and unpatriotic tendencies and to destroy your future. You must resist them. You should never allow yourselves to be used as tools in the hands of these treacherous elements,” he said.
APC national youth leader, Barr Ismaeel Ahmed, in his opening remarks said the conference was organised based on the need to galvanise the progressive movement in the country, assuring that members are ready to deliver the party again in the next general elections and beyond.
“We are going to deliver this party in the future, especially in 2023, 2027 and beyond”,he said.
On his part, the speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, said the survival of the ruling APC beyond 2023 lay in the recruitment of young Nigerians to occupy important offices.
Speaking at the 2021 APC youth conference yesterday, Gbajabiamila said the party needed to identify competent people both at home and in the Diaspora and bring them on board to effectively champion progressivism in the country and in government.
He said: “For the APC and the progressive movement to survive in Nigeria, we must commit ourselves to a deliberate and effective system of leadership recruitment to identify and prepare people – young people especially, to occupy the important offices of party and government.
“We need to identify people from the professional ranks and the private sector, from here at home and in the diaspora. We need to bring them into the fold and prepare them to become effective champions of progressivism in the country and in government.
“As we recruit and train, we must also make sure that we elevate those who have been with us the longest, who fully embrace the principles of progressivism, who understand the vision of the progressive manifesto and who by their actions and antecedents have proven that they have the capacity to translate our manifesto into policies and practices for the good of our country and all our people.
“Political party manifestos are a statement of vision and vision is the foundation of all achievements. For a nation such as ours to succeed, we must first define a common vision that will inspire us, bring us together, and provide the focus that allows us to persevere through the inevitable difficult times.
“Political parties exist to mobilise public support to form a government and to superintend over the affairs of the state. To be successful in this regard, political parties must reflect, in their membership, the broad spectrum of the society it seeks to govern.
“As is the case with all other contractual documents, the commitments contained in the party manifesto are the basis upon which the party’s record in government will be measured and its leaders will be assessed both in real-time and in the judgment of history. As it has been throughout history, so also will it be for us in the APC as we, too, will answer for what we have done with our time in government.
The speaker said even though the party had accomplished much despite the fact of the many obstacles that had stood in its way, there is still much left to do in the two years it had left.
Gbajabiamila also said the most important factor that determined whether a political party in government would succeed in implementing its manifesto would be the process by which the party arrived at the manifesto in the first instance.
“If the manifesto of the party is merely a compendium of promises put together for electoral purposes without any consideration of the personnel and resources required to achieve them, then it is unlikely to succeed.
“However, when, as it should be, the manifesto is a statement of carefully thought-out principles, it becomes a guideline for governance, a reference for policy-making and a motivational text to which the members of the government will return, time and again, to draw inspiration and reinforce clarity of purpose”, he said.
Gbajabiamila added that another vital consideration for successfully implementing political party manifestos was the character and ability of the men and women to be chosen from amongst the ranks of the party’s membership to take up office in government and drive the implementation of the manifestos.
“Character speaks to questions of integrity and loyalty. Loyalty to country, and the foundational principles of the party, whereas ability speaks to competence and the capacity of the individual to practise statecraft in a way that translates principles into action, and action into achievement.
“In politics and governance, personnel is policy. Personnel is also identity. The men and women we choose to fly the party’s flag in elections; the people we appoint as heads of departments, and as political and policy aides; the people we select to manage the affairs of our party from the wards through to the national headquarters – all together make up the face of the party,” the speaker stated.
Speaking in the same vein, former Imo State governor Rochas Okorocha urged the youths to stop procrastinating, but be focused and occupy their place in the political space.
“Power is taken, not given. The life and future of the country is in your hands”, he said.