Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The Director-General Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Salihu Moh. Lukman, has mocked the Comrade Adams Oshiomhole-led national leadership, quipping that it has now become easier to organize general elections than to organise APC National Executive Committee (NEC).
In a statement he issued in Abuja titled ‘Fundamental leadership challenge in Nigeria’, he argued that the party leaders’ intolerance to opposition has been responsible for the escalation of the crisis rocking the ruling party.
The PGF DG further pointed out that; “the inability to manage disagreements and resolve conflicts bordering on leadership disputes has been the centre of the crisis in APC.”
According to him; “The reality is that as members of APC, we should expect to have different opinions and perspectives on how to build the party. Disagreements and contestation is the hallmark of politics. It is the capacity to accommodate different divergent opinions that will enable our leaders to ‘live in the present, with one eye on the future’ as well as ‘right-brain and left-brain’ at the same time.
“Unfortunately many of our leaders are intolerant, which produce all the avoidable crisis facing us. This is where the framework adopted by the Progressive Governors is different. As it is today, individually Progressive Governors may disagree in terms of what should be done. They respect their individual positions, conflitual as it could be. But it doesn’t stop them from coming together to debate and eventually agree based on majority position.
“They are very tolerant of each other. And to that extent they recognise and respect the freedom of their employees in the PGF Secretariat and by extension members of the party to freely express themselves.
“It may be difficult for many, especially those who believe that political relations should be about uncritical support to leaders, to understand how Progressive Governors manage to allow their employee to express himself freely. It should however be the ambition of every well-meaning Nigerian that eventually Nigerian politics should mature to adopt that operative framework.
“This is necessary if PGF is to serve as the kind of political think tank which it is established to attain and through that support governors and party leaders with critical but informed political perspectives.
“In other words Progressive Governors are certainly ahead of most political leaders in the country in terms of issues of broadmindedness and tolerance for being able to put in place the framework that created the PGF. But many politicians, including party members and leaders, who may want to hold Nigerian politics down based on politics of sycophancy may not understand and may get jealous about why anyone with the status of being an employee should enjoy freedom of expression different from those perceived to be that of his/her employer.
“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 year, 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. In fact, parties don’t need members. Leaders should exercise the prerogative to assemble members based on capacity to accumulate/procure followership. 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. Leaders of the party who preside over those organs should be challenged to develop skills to facilitate debate and build consensus out of those debates. That way we can aspire to be able to produce a leader who can build on President Buhari’s liberal candour of allowing the party to exercise its independence without engendering leadership crisis. Anything short of that, we should be prepared to produce authoritarian leaders who will always interpret disagreement as subversion. We must not allow platforms provided by APC organs to be reduced to centres for legitimising single story!” he noted.
Writing further, the PGF DG noted:
“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 debate 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 us criticising Oshiomhole, all those alleged to have been opposed to him are accused of nursing or supporting ambition for 2023. False as it is, to avoid falling into the pit 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 Oshiomhole’s leadership attributes representative of the orientation of the person Oshiomhole is supporting?” he asked in the statement.