From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The Director-General, All Progressives Congress (APC) Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), Salihu Moh. Lukman, has attributed the lingering political challenges facing Nigeria to the fixation of Nigeria leaders on elective and appointive opportunities.
In a statement he issued in Abuja, titled: ‘APC and the question of values’, the PGF DG, argued that the manners party leaders scuttled the planned admission of Femi Fani-Kayode into the APC differentiate the ruling party with the opposition, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
“Part of the major problem why many of us in politics are unable to respond to these issues very significantly in a way that makes Nigerians to have confidence is that all of us in politics are fixated about the opportunity to hold elective or appointive positions. Once we are in those positions, we are hardly able to take risks that will enable us positively to respond to these issues.
“We end up blaming our leaders for our failures. As knowledgeable as we may be, we limit ourselves to being sycophantically loyal to our leaders just so that our positions are not threatened. Sadly, those who made the choice not to join politics are hardly any different because for them politics is all about elections. Again, it is reduced to support for or against leaders,” Lukman noted.
On the aborted admittance of Fani-Kayode, he quipped: “Without going into details, the capacity to test wide range of political options assisted to create the needed confidence for merger negotiations of our opposition parties in 2012/2013 that led to the emergence of APC. It is important to recognise that for leaders of our legacy parties to successful negotiate the merger, it meant that they were responsive to the reality that without being able to merge they can’t win election at national level.
“You can say that the negotiation only produce instrument for capturing power. What is wrong with that? Would you have rather preferred APC or any preferred party becoming a permanently defeated party? That APC is succeeding in capturing power is the reason why we are having this debate. It is far more encouraging to engage the debate, on our part as APC members, because the party is succeeding in winning elections, if you like capturing power.
“Is there any successful political party anywhere in the world that is not an instrument of capturing power? If your pain is that APC is emerging as a successful political party, the best advice one can give is that those who are opposed to APC should work hard to produce the party that can defeat the APC.
“The fact of being successful is what is attracting almost everyone desirous of accessing political opportunities to join our party. No doubt, that is not good. But it must be stressed, it will require strong internal contestation to control that.
Again, that we are as a party debating the issue of who should join our party or not represent the qualitative difference between the APC and PDP. If it were PDP, once the National Chairman of the party act on a matter and backed by a serving governor, members can only grumble. I am proud to have my voice guaranteed and affirmed by my leaders in APC.
“As an employee of Governors, it has been a privileged opportunity to speak out openly on matters within the purview of leadership initiative. Rather than my leaders, including our Governors, relating to me as a subordinate who should only take instructions, they recognise and respect my views as a loyal member of the party. Part of the responsibility that imposes is that we should be able to speak out to protect and defend our leaders and our party.
“Being a party that is evolving, part of the challenge is to take every step to encourage our leaders to allow internal debate in the party. We may be in denial that APC was able to deepen political competition in the country through internal contestation. Part of the internal contestation going on will be eventually what can strengthen the definitive credentials of the party.
“This is not to suggest that there are not indicative defining credentials. If anything, the current debate about values reminds one of some of the discouraging public commentaries during the merger negotiations. There was almost a public consensus at the time of the merger that it was not going to succeed. PDP did everything necessary to demonstrate that even if it succeed, it will be hopeless as the new party will not be able to win elections.
“All these are now history. It is clear that those of us in APC commitment to supporting our leaders to transform the party into a viable democratic platform need to work even harder. In doing so, we must not allow the current public mindset of condemning politics, our leaders and our country to provoke us into being defensive and therefore unable to have the needed strategy and confidence to engage our leaders. The challenge of protecting our leaders and our party is not about denying wrong actions but when wrong actions are taken, is it possible to correct it?
There will be many instances of possibility that our leaders and our party may take wrong decision. Our capacity to correct those wrong decisions is what our politics require and not some fantasies. No amount of declaration, whether with reference to values or ideology can develop our politics, our parties, our democracy and our nation. It is our capacity to get things done and especially get wrong actions corrected that can develop our politics, our party, our democracy and our nation.
“The issue of Fani-Kayode’s drifted attempt to join the APC is a clear instance of attempts to manipulate some of our leaders into accepting membership of someone who ought not to have been considered as member of our party. If that was the case in the past, it is better late than never to correct such a mistake.
“As party members, we were able to rise up to the challenge of engaging our leaders. Fortunately, we are able to gain the respect of our leaders and surely, moving forward, issues of who qualifies to be a member of our party will be clarified unambiguously.
“May be this could challenge the PDP and other parties in Nigeria to begin to address issues related to their failings. It is a process, not a once off action. If you don’t agree with this position, abusing the APC, its leadership or members, including this writer will change nothing. You are most welcome!” PGF DG noted in the statement.