By Omeiza Ajayi
Director General of the Progressive Governors’ Forum PGF, Salihu Moh. Lukman has advised against handing over the membership register of the ruling All Progressives Congress APC to any chieftain of the party, warning of grave undemocratic consequences.
Lukman in a statement on Sunday in Abuja said it must be emphasised that in all the debate leading to the current membership registration/revalidation exercise of the APC, no one has disputed the current membership register of the APC.
“The emphasis has been that it should be updated to delete names of members who have left the party and register new members. In addition, the register should be domiciled in the National Secretariat of the party and not with individual leaders of the party.
“Having the membership register in the custody of individual leaders especially when such leaders are being speculated to have ambitions for electoral contests is problematic. Keeping the party’s membership register in the custody of individual leaders simply supports the bad orientation of handing over structures of the party to would-be-aspirants, which has been the bane of Nigerian politics under the PDP between 1999 and 2015. Being a party of change, the most important change APC can introduce in Nigerian politics is a shift in the foundational orientation of our politics to one owned and controlled by Nigerians”, he said.
Lukman equally advocated regular consultations among party leaders in order to assuage the fears of some chieftains of the party regarding the ongoing exercise.
“What one can decipher from Chief (Bisi) Akande’s remarks is the desire to broaden internal consultations within the party based on which all the statutory requirements for meetings are respected. Chief Akande might be having this at the back of his mind when he said, ‘If not carefully controlled and expeditiously managed, most aberrant authorities end up in contempt and disgrace.’ The best way to carefully control and expeditiously manage the Caretaker Committee is to ensure that more meetings of leaders are taking place and the Caretaker Committee is supported by ensuring all meetings of organs of the party are taking place.
“Once meetings of structures of the party are taking place, it is easy to dispel any suspicion, which tends to exaggerate disagreements among APC leaders to mean endorsement or rejection of the political ambitions of some leaders. Where and how the new party register will be maintained will not be a source of speculation.
“Perhaps, it is important to state that even the fact that the old APC register is in the custody of one of the leaders is a product of democratic decisions within the party in 2014 based on trust. That today, as a party, we are confronted with challenges of access such that membership registration/revalidation is regarded as the solution to the problem, means that there should be more debate and consultations on how to avoid reproducing the problem in different forms.
“The insinuation is that some party leaders opposed to the ambition of the leader currently in custody of the old membership register want to take over the party’s membership register at the end of the registration/revalidation exercise. The need to build confidence and belief among APC leaders and members that this is never the plan can only be achieved through meetings of party organs and consultative ad hoc structures based on honest debates around presentation of problems faced by the party and proposals of what needs to be done to resolve the issues.
“Part of what should be the focus of the debate now around the APC membership registration/revalidation exercise should be about what needs to be done to ensure that the current exercise and the new register of members of the party after the exercise is not in any way or form in disagreement with the old register.
“Such a disagreement is only possible if some members of the party who are captured in the old register refuse to revalidate their membership and based on the old register still claim to be members. With all leaders of the party, including Chief Akande and Asiwaju Tinubu accepting to revalidate their membership, the message is that every party member should revalidate his/her membership. There is no better evidence today that all APC leaders are united other than the ongoing membership registration/revalidation exercise”, he added.