Dr Salihu Lukman, All Progressives Congress (APC) North-West Zonal Chairman, has called on party members and supporters to respect the candidates of different parties.
In a statement on Monday in Abuja, he said that once the element of respect was removed from politics of choices of party candidates, democracy risk being downgraded to the level of anarchy.
Lukman, however, said that Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the APC presidential candidate, was his choice for the forthcoming elections because of his outstanding leadership qualities.
He said he would work round-the-clock to ensure the victory of Tinubu and other APC candidates in the 2023 general elections, adding that he could not be working for any other presidential candidate.
“A close friend and comrade recently asked me if I am Obedient, suggesting that I am supporting Mr Peter Obi, the Presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP).
“To say the least, I was very dismayed that anyone could imagine I will support any candidate other than Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
“I may excuse any person if he or she is meeting me for the first time,” Lukman who was the immediate past Director-General of the Progressives Governors Forum (PGF) said.
He said as a member of the APC, he would campaign for all the party’s candidates while at the same time respecting candidates of opposition parties.
Lukman said people were free to make their choices which should be respected.
“Many of us in APC are supporting Asiwaju as part of our ongoing campaign to continue to build the APC as a progressive party, capable of producing accountable elected representatives at all levels.
“We do so with full confidence that Tinubu will build on the legacy of President Muhammadu Buhari, which also include respecting internal debate and contestation within the APC,” he said.
According to Lukman, APC is the only party today in the country that permits internal debate and contestations.
He explained that the temptation to indulge in politics of disrespect could be linked to the apparent lack of confidence of winning the election.
“It is almost a case of if I lose it means the bad people have imposed themselves again, everything is reduced to a contest between the good and the bad.
“What makes any candidate good or bad, is left to some intuitive presentations by individuals who often reduced political contests to bullying conditions.
“With reference to the so-called Obidient, as much as we respect their choice, we also must appeal to them to honestly recognise the shortcomings of Obi as a politician and Labour Party as a political party.
“Recognising these shortcomings will be important in convincing Nigerians that they are engaging the contest also as a strategy to reform both the person of Obi and the organisation of LP as a political party,” he said.
Lukman said so far, Obi’s characteristics was that of a typical Nigerian politician who was more of an election merchant presenting himself every four years for election, even if it meant changing political party.
According to him, being an election merchant connotes obvious lack of commitment and discipline to any political party.
This, Lukman said, partly explained why Obi moved from All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) to Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and now LP between 2015 and now.
“While it is important to recognise the legitimate disappointment of Nigerians with our leaders and the state of the nation, it will remain a fallacy to imagine that a simple choice of a typical election merchant can resolve Nigeria’s challenges.
“Not just Obi, any other politician with the characteristics of changing political parties for the purpose of contesting elections, such a person is not what Nigeria needs today.
“Without prejudice to my respect for Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate and Sen. Rabiu Kwankwaso, they are both in the same category with Obi,” he said.
He recalled that Atiku had been either a presidential candidate or an aspirant in every election in different parties since 2007.
He also recalled that Kwankwaso had moved from PDP to APC, back to PDP between 2015 and 2019, before finally forming the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) in 2022 and presented himself as the party’s presidential candidate for 2023 election.
Lukman noted that out of all the leading presidential candidates for the Feb. 25 presidential election, the only one that had never left his party was Tinubu.
“He is the only one that although he has been a national political leader since he left office as Lagos State Governor in 2007 that is presenting himself for the first time as a presidential candidate for the 2023 elections.
“He is the only contestant who together with other leaders of APC envisioned the political roadmap for the defeat of PDP.
“Together with President Muhammadu Buhari they provided the inspirational leadership that successfully negotiated the emergence of APC in 2013.” Lukman said.(http;//newsatlarge.ng)