By Salihu Moh. Lukman (National Vice Chairman, North-West)
Following the resignation of Sen. Abdullahi Adamu and Sen. Iyiola Omisore as National Chairman and National Secretary respectively, there is all manner of speculations as to which way forward. Of course, understandably, most of the speculations, if not all, are driven by interests to control affairs of the party. Regrettably, however, many of the speculations do not share the commitment to either restore constitutional order in the party or return the party to its founding vision of returning to the path of progressive politics. In fact, if anything, some of the speculations, if true, will reduce to nonsense the decision to have a change of leadership, which means that no lessons have been learnt from all the circumstances of the last few years since the emergence of APC as a political party.
It is therefore necessary that at this very early stage of negotiating new leadership for the APC, we caution all our leaders that the only way we can justify the exit of Sen. Abdullahi Adamu and Sen. Iyiola Omisore out of the leadership of the APC is by demonstrating commitment to restore constitutional order in APC and return the party to its founding vision of being a progressive party. These are issues that would appear to be taken for granted and if not engaged could be abused by power blocs within the party, which could lead to the emergence of leaders that are worse than Sen. Adamu and Sen. Omisore. This must be avoided.
First, restoring constitutional order in APC is basically about complying with extant provisions of the party’s constitution. A situation whereby the National Chairman usurped powers of National Working Committee (NWC) and all organs of the party is unacceptable. All organs of the party, namely, National Advisory Council (NAC), National Caucus, National Executive Committee (NEC), etc. must be allowed to function in accordance with provisions of the party’s constitution. The irresponsible culture of asking organs of the party to donate their powers to the NWC, which basically empowers the National Chairman to convert all the resources of the party to personal use must end.
Inability to allow organs to function will block any attempt to return the party to its founding vision of becoming a progressive party. Being a progressive party is about ensuring that we can produce a dynamic, action-oriented party that is able to produce governments that can and improve the lives of Nigerians. It is about goal-setting and developing strategies to achieve them. with a clear vision. This is easier said than done. In our context in Nigeria, this is reduced to claims and narrowed to winning elections. Certainly, winning elections is primarily the required precondition to improve the lives of citizens. Being a progressive party will mean that we are able to ensure that organs of the party develop the capacity to hold elected and appointed officials accountable.
Holding elected and appointed officials accountable has certainly been a challenge in Nigerian politics and has been a major source of frustration. Returning to our founding vision of becoming a progressive party is about initiating actions within the structures of APC that can strengthen the party to influence the conducts of elective and appointive officials. This is more about the quality of leadership that will take over. It is also about initiatives being introduced within the party to re-orient the management of APC, especially in the context of facilitating negotiations to produce and engage leaders of the party.
In terms of negotiations to produce and engage leaders of the party, to what extent are all the relevant power blocs within the party active? What are even the power blocs within the APC, as it is today? Certainly, the President, being the leader of party is the most important power bloc. There are the blocs of Governors, National Assembly Caucus, elders who are recognised in the APC constitution as members of National Caucus. There are other blocs, which are recognised in APC constitution yet to be constituted and to that extent therefore very passive. These are Women, Youth and Persons with Disability who are recognised and empowered to be organised as wings within the party.
The extent to which all these power blocs are active in the negotiations to produce and engage leaders of the party will confirm whether necessary steps are being taken to return the APC to its founding vision of progressive politics. Are there debates within the party on how this is to be achieved? Unfortunately, no. Instead, there would appear some deceptive celebrations around the exit of Sen. Adamu and Sen. Omisore, imagining that all the problems of APC have been solved with their exit, which is not true. If anything, the exit of Sen. Adamu and Sen. Omisore provided us with the opportunity to start initiating actions to return the APC to its founding vision, by first restoring constitutional order in the party.
Through restoring constitutional order, we can activate some of the power blocs to actively participate in the process of producing and engaging leaders of the party. For instance, elders of the party can have stronger say when the meetings of the National Caucus are restored. Women, Youth and Persons with Disability will similarly have stronger say when the Women, Youth and Persons with Disability wings are constituted with all the complementary structures as provided in the APC constitution. In fact, beyond the Women, Youth and Persons with Disability Leaders, these three wings are expected to have Secretaries who will be members of NEC.
So far, as things are, only the President and Governors blocs are active in the negotiation to produce and engage leaders of APC. Already, part of the speculations emerging from the Governors bloc is that Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje is being considered to succeed Sen. Abdullahi Adamu. If this is true, it only suggests insensitivity and taking members of the party for granted. This is without prejudice to the person of Dr. Ganduje. This is because such a choice will completely distort the zoning arrangement that informed the present configuration of the leadership of the National Assembly. With the Speaker of House of Representatives and Deputy Senate President coming from North West and North Central shut out of consideration, to propose the party’s National Chairman to move to North West from North Central will be unjust and almost a political suicide.
We must caution our Governors that since the emergence of APC, Governors have served almost as the conscience of the party. Any consideration for such an insensitive and unjust consideration of Dr. Ganduje to become the National Chairman of APC must be discarded. If anything, the position of National Chairman of the APC must be retained in North Central. Part of the challenge of managing the current transition within the party is getting the NWC to properly take the driving seat in managing and facilitating negotiations to produce and engage leaders of the party. The NWC must sit up and guide the unfolding negotiations. No single power bloc should be allowed to appropriate the process.
This where the intervention of the President, being the leader of the party would be required to moderate the excessive conduct of any power bloc, especially when such conduct risk further damaging the prospect of returning the APC to its founding vision. At these early stages of President Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s leadership of the party, he needs to make that strong intervention to guide the process of restoring constitutional order and returning the APC to its founding vision of progressive politics. Progressive politics must be about inclusion and justice and not some blind and insensitive considerations.