From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The Director-General of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF), Salihu Moh Lukman, has described the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) as living in denial of its internal organisational challenges.
In a statement he issued in Abuja on Wednesday, titled, “Bureaucracies and political parties as pillars of strong institutions in democracy”, the PGF DG demanded an audit of the secretariat staff of the APC for their functions and personnel.
Writing on the role US Vice President Mike Pence played in cerfifying the 2020 America election, the PGF DG noted: ‘There are many instances where decisions are taken by our parties but never get implemented. There are also cases where decisions are taken but implementation poorly done, which create new problems. Most times, it is very easy to make sweepy remarks about the need to build strong institutions in Nigeria.
‘Even as committed activists and leaders, we reduced these issues to general remarks, which hardly focus on the important issue of building our parties as viable democratic institutions with strong bureaucracies that are capable of guiding processes of political decisions.
“‘he attraction or priority is always about processes of elections and who eventually emerge as the winner. Whether bureaucracies are able to competently play their expected roles in guiding political decisions and implementation is hardly the focus.
‘Had US Republican Party been contemptuous of bureaucracies, Vice President Pence may not have been able to discharge his constitutional responsibility in the way he has handled it in relation to the US 2020 elections.
‘In fact, the support of many Republican Party Congress members in certifying the victory of the Democratic Presidential candidate, Joe Biden, as President-Elect, confirms the strong institutional orientation of the Republican Party and the commitment of their leaders, including elected officials, to proposals and recommendations aimed at enforcing democratic standards coming from the relevant arms of government. These are the issues that should be recognised.
‘The question of how we can build that in Nigeria should therefore be answered with reference to how we can develop our parties such that they are able to have competent, efficient and effective bureaucracies to guide processes of decision making and implementation. This is where those of us in APC, including Dr Igbizor, with the capacity to raise issues that focus the attention of our leaders to take the right initiatives must go beyond the simple presentation around strong institutions.
‘We need to support our leaders with specific recommendations that can direct consideration to initiate processes of putting in place the kind of bureaucracy that would facilitate rational political decision making and implementation. Many often ask the question, will our leaders listen or consider such proposals? Such a question is already defeatist.
‘The courage to make proposals must be founded in our commitment to engage our leaders and the democratic process such that proposals and recommendations are not assumed.
‘Other related issues have to do with our aspirations to ensure that we contribute to, in particular, the transformation of APC as a truly progressive political party in the country,” the statement read.
Writing further, Salihu noted: ‘Recognising the contagious influence of the PDP on basically the operations of all political parties in Nigeria, including the APC, given all its negative orientation being a ruling party for 16 years at the beginning of the Fourth Republic, which include encouraging the contemptuous mindset of political leaders against building a party bureaucracy, we must engage our leaders in APC with proposals that encourage them to recognise and respect the value of building a party bureaucracy. This will require some important initiatives, which include:
‘The need to undertake audit of what currently exist as the party’s Secretariat, its functions and personnel. For instance, how is it structured to provide services to the APC as provided by the constitution of the party? Are there supportive rules provided for the operation of the party bureaucracy? How effective has the applications of those rules been? What is required to strengthen the rules guiding the discharge of functions of the Secretariat?
‘How are the personnel of the Secretariat recruited? Are there standard recruitment guidelines, highlighting qualifications requirements? How can the process be strengthened?
‘The third issue is the question of funding. How is the work of the Secretariat funded? Once funding is not guaranteed, it will affect the quality of personnel and also the proposals and recommendations which they make.
‘It is very easy to raise these questions but extremely difficult to get them to the level of actionable consideration by our leaders. The fact that as members of APC we can raise these issues present some advantages for the party. As far as PDP is concerned these are issues that are foreclosed. As a party, PDP has over the years lived in complete denials of all its internal organisational challenges.
‘Therefore, the issue of building the PDP as a strong institution is limited to winning elections, as far as PDP leaders and members are concerned. If anything, the lived experiences of PDP confirms that winning elections is not the same as strengthening the party. Even with weaker parties’ elections can be won.
‘For us in APC, we must always celebrate the honest disposition of our leaders, on account of which they are able to recognise challenges and take appropriate steps to resolve them. In any case, given the request of President Muhammadu Buhari to APC leader as reported on September 13, 2019 following the judgement of the Presidential Election Tribunal affirming the victory of the President in the February 23, 2019 election when he urged fellow party leaders “to institutionalise the party so that when we leave, the party will continue to lead”, as loyal party members, we should be able to appeal to our leaders to respect the wishes of the President by taking all the necessary steps to institutionalise the party, which should be about the development of the party bureaucracy.
‘The starting point should therefore be to strengthen the commitment of political leaders produced by the APC to consider rational political proposals and recommendations as well as their implementation, once decided. As Nigerians, we must wake up to the reality that there cannot be a strong democracy without strong political parties.
‘Once our political leaders are unable to orient themselves to respect and recognise proposals from the party’s bureaucracy, they will be weak in respecting, recognising or working with proposals from government bureaucracies when elected to office. There is no shortcut to these issues!’ Salihu said in the statement.