The former Director General of the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) and a chieftain of the ruling All All Progressive Congress (APC), Salihu Moh Lukman, has said the ruling party is no longer what it was between 2013 to 2015, alleging some leaders no longer committed to its vision at merger.
Lukman who recently resigned from office due to controversy trailing the convocation of APC national convention, in an open letter to all the party leaders titled: “Politics of Change: APC on the Brink” also called for sanctioning of any leader undermining the forthcoming national convention.
In the open letter released to newsmen Sunday in Abuja, the political activist said problems of intolerance to disagreements and criticisms, with some leaders expecting members to be blindly loyal is becoming a common attribute of the ruling party.
According to Lukman, the truth is that APC is being held captive by some few leaders whose interest is only about imposing themselves as candidates for elections.
“So long as that is the case, it means what we have as APC today wasn’t the party negotiated and produced out of our legacy parties. Rather than the envisioned party, which allows for internal debates and disagreements among party leaders and members, based on which there could be negotiations and agreements, APC today has been diminished to only an election platform, which is what the founding leaders and members wanted to change. The commitment to change the profile of political parties beyond being election platforms was precisely part of why Nigerians supported the APC in 2015.
“This reality is very disturbing. APC today, wasn’t the APC of the period 2013 to 2015. Perhaps outside President Buhari, there are very few elected leaders in APC who are still committed to the founding vision of the party to provide leadership to change Nigerian politics. Given where the nation is coming from under PDP, changing Nigerian politics would require departure from requiring citizens to be blindly loyal to elected leaders. It should require that citizens and party members are free to disagree and criticise elected leaders. In other words, politics of change should produce elected leaders who should be highly tolerant and where possible even accommodate disagreements and criticisms as part the process of decision making.
“Every founding leader and member of the APC must rise to challenge of arresting the drift in the party. Few individual leaders of the party must not be allowed to continue to impose themselves and destroy a party with potentials to provide the needed democratic platform for negotiated resolutions of all the problems of Nigeria.
“As it is today, APC is the only party where contestation is taking place. Again, thanks to President Buhari who is providing unbiased leadership to the party, it is possible for ordinary members to express themselves, including disagreeing with decisions of leaders of the party. This unique leadership of President Buhari has helped a lot to sustain the hope of both party leaders, members and Nigerians desirous of political change.
“Beyond the unbiased leadership of President Buhari, there is the need for all party leaders and members committed to the politics of change to ensure the emergence of party leaders at the February 26, 2022 National Convention who must be tolerant to criticisms and disagreements and should not expect members to be blindly loyal.”
Lukman said if APC is to return to its founding vision of driving the process of change in Nigeria, it must produce leaders who would be able to compel elected representatives produced by the party to be accountable to Nigerians.
On the forthcoming national convention of the APC slated for February, the APC chieftain said the new APC leaders must ensure that structures of the party meet as and when due as provided by the party’s constitution.
“APC leaders must wake up to the responsibility of returning the party to the era when party leaders are tolerant to criticisms and disagreements. Both party leaders and elected representatives must not expect ‘anticipatory obedience’ from both party members and Nigerians. Not expecting ‘anticipatory obedience’ should be part of what will endear the party and its candidates to Nigerians based on which winning elections can be guaranteed just as it was the case in 2015 and 2019.
“Finally, it is important to once more appeal to APC leaders to ensure that the February 26, 2022 National Convention is not just about electing National Working Committee (NWC) members. There must be some reflections about the challenges facing the country, with priority focus on problems of insecurity, rebuilding public education and health through mosilisation of massive financial investment in these sectors. Conclusions and recommendations from the Convention should guide the review process of the party’s manifesto and bring out some of the campaign agenda of the APC for the 2023 campaigns. A major indicator for this would also include a review of the APC manifesto at the Convention.
“The campaign to return APC to its founding vision must have strong expression and resonance at the February 26, 2022 National Convention. The current drift, which is systematically destroying the APC must be arrested based on all the outcomes of the National Convention.
“Any leader working to undermine the National Convention should be sanctioned. Party members need to appeal to party leaders at all levels to return APC to its founding vision, which encourages internal debates and negotiations based on which agreements are reached and respected. APC, being a party of change, encourages members to be critical. A party of change must promote internal debates. Leaders of the party should not expect ‘anticipatory obedience’ from members and Nigerians. That is the APC founded on the sacrifices of leaders and members of our old legacy parties, it is the APC that the February 26, 2022 National Convention must return to!!!”