The Director General of Progressives Governors’ Forum (PGF), Dr. Salihu Lukman, has sounded the alarm over what he said was the perceived intolerance of the national chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole; which he warned, may scuttle the efforts of the Chief Bisi Akande-led National Reconciliation Committee, which the party set up to reconcile its warring factions across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and foster unity within the party.
“Oshiomhole’s leadership credentials cannot be disputed. But given what is going on now in APC under his watch, it is very clear that he is not that same Oshiomhole that was an inspiring union leader who competently handled all organisational leadership challenges to the admiration of Nigerians,” Lukman said in a statement, adding: “His level of intolerance is so high that any disagreement or criticism expressed against any of his decisions or actions is classified as betrayal and therefore requiring disciplinary actions. The procedure for disciplinary actions has become so cheapened such that all the relevant provisions in the party’s constitution are violated. As a result, Oshiomhole is today the leading accuser, prosecutor and judge in almost all cases where disciplinary actions have been administered in the party. The only probable exception may be the case in his ward in Edo State where he is also being alleged to have been disciplined. With this kind of background, it is almost impossible to start any process of engagement to resolve the problems in the party without addressing the issue of intolerance that is today the main characteristic of the Oshiomhole-led NWC.”
In the statement titled: “Chief Bisi Akande APC National Reconciliation Committee: Our Leaders should Unite to Rebuild the Party,” Lukman said the crisis rocking the ruling party has reached a stage whereby the competence of members of the Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee (NWC) to provide leadership to ensure victory in every election has been eroded. He described the party’s NWC as a very efficient Trojan horse that opens the backdoor for electoral victory to political opponents.
Lukman said since 2015, conducts of primary elections within the party had been rancorous in virtually all the states, adding that the NWC, which is saddled with the leadership responsibility of managing all internal processes, has failed woefully to do so. He noted that the inability to resolve problems associated with management of 2015 elections had been compounded with more problems from 2019 elections. He attributed the party’s loss of Adamawa, Oyo, Bauchi, Sokoto and Zamfara States to the internal crisis rocking the APC.
Lukman said the challenges of internal democracy and fair competitive practices during candidates’ selection processes in the party remained a dream, adding that the problems associated with the candidates’ selection process has produced what could be regarded as an electoral college. According to him, though citizens can vote, the Supreme Court would eventually determine the winner, all as a result of poor management of candidates’ selection process by the ruling party.
Lukman stated that unfortunately, the party’s NWC is hardly able to come up with any reassuring response, adding that, “the crisis in the party is clearly getting worse and worse by the day. It has gotten to a stage whereby the competence of members of the Oshiomhole-led NWC to provide needed leadership to ensure victory in every election has been eroded. We can win election and on account of some inabilities to competently manage legal challenges associated with nomination of candidates, we are compelled to surrender victory to our opponents.”
He explained this was the narrative of the Supreme Court judgment of February 13, 2020 in respect of November 16, 2019 Bayelsa State elections, noting that it was also the case with the May 24, 2019, Supreme Court nullification of the election of all APC candidates in the 2019 elections in Zamfara State.
“In other words, our NWC can be described as a very efficient Trojan horse that opens the backdoor for electoral victory to our political opponents. It is really unfortunate that we are faced with all the avoidable electoral tragedies that have befallen us, all because our NWC has decided to abdicate its responsibility. This is quite disheartening and certainly beyond any expectation. How can all these be happening under the watch of Oshiohmole as the National Chairman?”
Lukman stated that the national chairman is surrounded by sycophants mainly from Edo State, adding that any attempt to help him through objective advice is condemned as betrayal, especially when such advice comes from people close to him. The director general said that many of those who claimed to be his supporters and loyalists are people who only relate with him based on his position of power and capacity to influence access to political positions. He Oshiomhole’s success as a leader who is able to direct the party towards electoral victory is never his supporters’ consideration except if they are the candidates.
Lukman said while he is not questioning the capacity or competence of the Akande-led committee, he believed that the starting point has to be an appeal to the Oshiomhole-led NWC to convene a meeting of the appropriate organ of the party – National Executive Council (NEC) or National Caucus where a decision setting aside all the disciplinary actions at all levels of the party, including the NWC, can be taken. Lukman explained that such meeting could also serve as an icebreaking platform where some good pronouncements can emerge, which can encourage all aggrieved leaders and party members to express their disagreement and dissatisfaction at the way the party is being managed since 2015.