#EndSARS: Mother of alleged Lekki Tollgate shooting victim not his mother
EndSars Protesters at Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos.Photo Akeem Salau

By Omeiza Ajayi – Abuja

Director General of the Progressive Governors’ Forum PGF, Salihu Moh. Lukman has traced the hijack of the recent #EndSARS protest to the inability of the protesters to have a well-defined central leadership in charge of command and control.

Lukman in a statement Sunday in Abuja said while the absence of a central leadership was a potent strategy to avoid any possible sellout or a clampdown on its leadership, the strategy however made negotiations difficult.

He said as a nation, “we need to help strengthen our political leaders to overcome their inertia towards interest negotiations, aimed at producing the needed compromises around major challenges facing our democracy”.

According to him, the inability of Nigeria’s “democracy to facilitate broader interest negotiations has produced so much widespread anger and animosity in the land.

“The terrifying situation now is that our young people have joined the crowd of the angry population largely because of the perception that any demand they make become disagreeable to our political leaders and therefore classified as rebellion, which must be crushed”.

On the other hand, he said while citizens want leaders to initiate responses to the nation’s political challenges, such demands are presented by abusing and criminalising political leaders.

He said; “How can there be any political negotiation when the language is abusive? Combinations of inability to take responsibility and hostile political environment, which doesn’t support negotiations create the perilous situation whereby the last protest of young Nigerians against police brutality in the country was organised with undercover or virtual leadership.

“The disadvantage of protest with undercover or virtual leadership especially by young people in an emerging democracy like Nigeria is that potentials for leadership recruitment are blocked.

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“The second disadvantage is that the prospects for negotiations especially with the genuine leaders of the protest were remote.

“And thirdly, the capacity of the organisers to control the protest and ensure that desired outcomes are achieved is also weakened.

“All these contributed to making the protest vulnerable, which resulted in the sad hijack by criminal elements and the widespread destructions and looting that followed in all parts of the country”.

Lukman also queried why it has become easier to mobilise for electoral contests than it is for issues bordering on the well-being of Nigeria’s democracy.

“For a nation as diverse as Nigeria, what does failure even means? Without negotiating any of the demands of citizens, how successful can we claim to be?

“Or, by trapping our democracy to be negotiating only electoral contests, are we in anyway able to avoid the fear of failure? Difficult decisions are required to develop our democracy.

“It requires huge sacrifices by our political leaders. The amount of sacrifices required may not be a function of any potential loss.

“For instance, what will any leader or section of the country lose if provisions of the APC Committee on True Federalism are to be subjected to debates for constitutional and legal amendments in the National Assembly?

“Why is it easy to mobilise support for electoral contests but impossible to consider any mobilisation for contests on matters that affect the wellbeing of our democracy and our nation?

“As a party, APC is far ahead of its political peers in terms of being a liberal party with strong internal contestation.

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“But such liberalism is yet to produce the corresponding requirement for interest representation and negotiation within the party, which is responsible for why our elected and appointed political leaders in the party estimate citizens’ demands as disagreement and subversive when it doesn’t correspond to their positions.

“It is also why fellow party leaders would appear intolerant to positions of other party leaders regarding both citizens’ demands and internal disagreements.

“We need to appeal to our leaders at all levels, especially in APC to liberate themselves and shed off any fear of citizens’ engagement, internal disagreements, political negotiations and the possible compromises that may emerge both within the party and in the country.

“Fear of citizens’ engagement and political negotiations is largely what is emboldening political opponents whose credentials on this score are anything but attractive.

“Emerging from a big existential leadership crisis, all our political leaders in APC should ideally be encouraged to consider testing political proposals that should strengthen and deepen our democracy.

“There should be no room for complacency. In fact, as a party, we need to take every necessary step to open up our party structures and invite patriotic Nigerians, members and leaders of organised groups to join the party.

“With the party’s National Caretaker Committee about to commence processes of membership registration and verification, we should aggressively mobilise Nigerians across all parts and sections of the country to join the party.

“This should be a necessary precondition to accelerate the process of ensuring that political negotiations in the country go beyond electoral contests”, he added.

Vanguard News Nigeria.

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