…Says, it’s now easier to hold General Elections than hold party NEC meetings
By Omeiza Ajayi
ABUJA: Director-General of the Progressive Governors’ Forum PGF, Salihu Moh. Lukman has dismissed claims that the current leadership crisis in the party is as a result of scheming by political gladiators to place themselves in vantage positions ahead of the 2023 general elections.
Instead, he attributed the wave of crisis in the party to the intolerance of its leaders whose operative disposition is ‘my way or the highway’.
Lukman in a personal statement issued Sunday in Abuja and made available to Vanguard also chastised the National Working Committee NWC of the party for its inability to convene important party meetings, saying it is now easier to organize a general election in Nigeria than hold a meeting of the APC’s National Executive Committee NEC.
The forum DG said he was reacting to a commentary by a certain Peter Oparah calling on the APC Governors to sack him for doing a ‘cheap hatchet’, adding that the task of DG of PGF is separate from the responsibility of being a member of APC.
Stating that no one was using him to fight any cause, Lukman said political debates are now reduced to propaganda partly because Nigerians take leadership for granted and expect that people working with leaders must always demonstrate agreement. “Once that is the case, leaders limit themselves to recruiting sycophants to work with them”, he said.
Not about 2023
Lukman advocated the need to divorce the politics of 2023 from the current leadership crisis in the party.
According to him; “As Nigerians, we have the constitutional right to freely express ourselves, and by extension, also have expectations that should guide who gets elected. Does that explain the leadership crisis in APC and to what extent does that confirm or otherwise the allegations that those who are against Comrade Oshiomhole are doing it for 2023?
“Inability to manage disagreements and resolve conflicts bordering on leadership disputes is at the centre of the crisis in APC. Unfortunately, these are not the issues being debated. What is being debated is about the personalities in the conflict and who is supporting who. It is not about the details of the disagreements. We may succeed to come to agreement about who should occupy the positions, but will that prevent a situation whereby organs of the party will not meet such that vacancies will emerge and proper processes of refilling the vacancies will not be followed?
“Partly, to blackmail those of criticising Comrade Oshiomhole, all those alleged to have been opposed to him are being accused of nursing or supporting ambition for 2023. False as it is, to avoid falling into the pit being dug to produce intolerant leaders, party leaders and members should not be defensive about their positions. They should be able to ask, since Comrade Oshiomhole is a threat to the ambition of those opposed to him, it means that there is someone he supports. Who is that person and what does that person represent? Is Comrade Oshiomhole’s leadership attributes representative of the orientation of the person Comrade Oshiomhole is supporting?
“We must not allow the debate to be reduced to a simple strategy to conquer and subjugate opponents. The danger here is not that Comrade Oshiomhole may succeed in defeating his opponents, but that if it is part of the strategy to promote a particular person to emerge as President Buhari’s successor in 2023, for instance, based on Comrade Oshiomhole’s style of leadership, it then means that there is a very high possibility that such a post-President Buhari successor will be closer, if not worse than, President Obasanjo’s model of garrison leadership. Is that the type of President we want?”, He queried.
General elections versus APC NEC meeting
Berating Oshiomhole for reneging on his campaign promises to reengineer the party by activating all its organs, Lukman lamented that it has now become easier to organize a general election in Nigeria than hold a NEC meeting of the party.
He said; “Just as an illustration, it will be useful to recall one aspect of his (Oshiomhole’s) vision statement, which commits him; ‘To promote internal party democracy, we will ensure that all organs of the party regularly meet, as stipulated by the party’s Constitution. For instance, article 25 of the APC’s Constitution provides that National Convention of the party shall be held once in two years; National Executive Committee NEC every quarter and National Working Committee NWC once every month’.
“What did we experience since his emergence as National Chairman in June 2018? The party’s NEC, which should have met every three months was unable to meet for about fifteen months between August 2018 and November 2019. In between, the positions of Deputy National Chairman (South) and National Secretary, among others, became vacant. To fill those vacancies, a minimum of zonal consensus was required, which should be ratified by NEC. Instead, it was only in March 2020 when the court granted an injunction against Comrade Oshiomhole that the National Working Committee (NWC) announced “appointments” into these vacant positions. This led to more disagreements based on the question of whether the NWC has powers to make those appointments or not.
“We need to recognise and appreciate that, in APC, sycophancy has weakened the capacity of our leaders to convene meetings of organs. It is easier to hold general elections in Nigeria today than for APC to hold NEC meetings. APC National Conventions would appear to only take place when the tenure of leaders expires after four years, notwithstanding the fact that APC constitution also makes provision for mid-term convention after two years. We are supposed to have Board of Trustees and seven years after the emergence of APC, it is yet to be inaugurated. In truth, one can argue that part of the functions of APC leaders, especially members of NWC is to undermine the APC constitution and be able to mobilise APC members and other Nigerians to defend such actions. Somehow, these issues are being ignored in the whole assessments of problems of the party.
“Yet, when party leaders are criticised for these infractions, it is being translated to mean agenda for 2023. Rather than therefore allow distractions based on highlighting issues of contractual relationship that have no bearing on the challenges, the focus should be on problems of intolerance, which is the source of the leadership crisis in APC. In terms of how it manifests in APC, it is two-fold. The first is, what is it that should be done to ensure that the APC is able to democratise itself and based on its democratic credentials produce the kind of leaders Nigerians are looking for? The second issue is, how can we support APC leaders to re-orient themselves in the direction of democratising the party to produce the kind of leaders Nigerians want?
“The first border on the details of the current leadership crisis in APC. The second is really about challenging our leaders to be much more tolerant and honestly engage the issues. It is not about scheming to dominate. If it is about scheming, then no need to expect internal democracy in our parties and we should be ready to accept all the crude practices of manipulating and producing fictitious membership register just ahead of party primary. Once we encourage our leaders to be intolerant, we should just be ready for every known democratic requirement to be undermined.
“In short, the problem of intolerance, is the fundamental leadership challenge in Nigerian politics. Given all the leadership problems of APC at the moment and against the overriding consideration of producing the type of tolerant leaders who should ‘live in the present, with one eye on the future’ as well as ‘right-brain and left-brain’, through democratic process, the first requirement is for APC to ensure that all organs of the party are made functional and they accommodate as all shades of opinions of members”, he added.