The All Progressives Congress (APC) is targeting attracting over one hundred million Nigerians into its ranks ahead of the 2023 General Elections.
The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, disclosed this on Saturday in Yobe State at the ongoing membership registration and revalidation of the party.
Lawan who was at his Katuzu ward in Bade Local Government Area of Yobe North Senatorial District, said that the exercise was conceived to further democratize the party and reposition it to dominate the country’s political space by winning more elective seats at the state and federal levels of government.
The Senate President’s assertion is coming days after a foundation National Chairman of the party’s Board of Trustees (BOT), Bisi Akande, described the ongoing membership and revalidation exercise as “an aberration.”
Akande had advised the committee to resist the temptation of falling for the sit-tight syndrome which he noted usually characterized most “handpicked authorities in most underdeveloped countries of the world.”
But the Senate President said the registration and revalidation exercise would afford the youths a critical role in governance, and provide Nigerians at the grassroots the opportunity of being major stakeholders in the nation’s decision making process.
He added that the exercise became imperative in view of the need to weed out members of the APC who had decamped to other political parties and are still recorded in the party’s register and also to afford new or intending members the opportunity to get registered.
“The youths, who will be the majority of those that would register, will now have very critical role to play in the politics of APC and the democratic process of Nigeria.
“I also want to say that this exercise is essential because we have names of people who have decamped to other political parties and yet their names are in the register of APC.
“We cannot continue to carry the names of people who have shifted ground. And, essentially, democracy is about the people to take and make decisions on behalf of themselves.
“This is about taking the party to the grassroots. As Mr. President said in Daura, the party should be built from bottom up.
“The people at the grassroots should have the party, so that when it is time for them to make decisions on whom they should vote for in congresses, they should take that decision.
“When it is time for them to decide who should run for any political office, it should be their decision. So, this is further democratizing the APC.
“And, I believe that this exercise is one that the APC should approach very positively. We should not register nothing less than a hundred million Nigerians. And we have every chance and every reason to register more than one hundred million Nigerians in this exercise,” Lawan said.
He further disclosed that the exercise would continue after the March deadline to enable young Nigerians who attain the legal age of eighteen thereafter, an opportunity to become registered members of the ruling party.
Lawan said, “This exercise of registration and revalidation does not terminate at the end of this month or in the first week of March.
“This period is only given to provide for a symbolic environment for registration and revalidation.
“The process will continue even after then, because we would have to register many more who will become eighteen years of age after this exercise is over.”
The Senate President, while appealing to party faithfuls across the country to shun infighting amongst themselves, called on leaders of the party at the state levels to embrace reconciliation and desist from attempts to thwart the efforts of intending members who are willing to join the party.
“I want to also appeal to my party men all across the country. We should not in any way try to stop registration of any Nigerian who wants to be a member of our party.
“This party has enough space and room to accommodate everyone. And, the broom is there to ensure that we don’t leave any dirt around.
“So, please, there should be no fighting, and where we have issues in any of our chapters, we should do our best to ensure that we reconcile our people,” he said.
Lawan who commended the Buni-led Caretaker Extraordinary Committee for its feat in reconciling aggrieved members of the ruling party, lauded the most recent effort which restored unity among APC factions in Zamfara state.
“Talking about reconciliation, let me commend the Chairman of the Caretaker Committee, my Governor, Mai Mala Buni, who has done tremendous work of reconciling people who have fallen apart in our party. He has done so much, and I believe that Nigerians can bear witness.
“Only a week or so ago, the case of Zamfara was addressed before everybody. But today, we have been able to reconcile APC in Zamfara, credit to the Caretaker Chairman of this party.
“In Yobe, APC is one, and more than ninety-eight percent are members. I want to see a situation where over ninety-eight percent get their registration or revalidation,” the Senate President said.
According to him, the exercise “will see the party at the National and state zonal and local government levels moving forward to ensure that APC continues to dominate the political space of Nigeria.
“We have elections this year in Anambra, and by the grace of God, APC will win that election. We have gubernatorial elections in Ekiti and Osun – these are states that are APC – and we will continue to keep them.
“But in 2023, by the Grace of God, APC should win more National Assembly, Gubernatorial seats. APC should continue to dominate the Presidency, and we are not asking for sixteen years.
“We want to do things that will make Nigerians to continue to trust the APC; to continue identify with our government and presidency because we mean well and will continue to do well for Nigeria,” Lawan added.
Earlier, the Senate President attended the turbaning ceremony of the Yeriman Bade, Alhaji Musa Yerima; and later inspected the Gasamu/Gogaram road project, as well as carried out the foundation laying ceremony of the Government Secondary School, Gashua.
In attendance was the Yobe State Deputy Governor, Idi Barde Gubana.