APC And The Question Of Values
Salihu Moh. Lukman
Following the report about the controversial attempt by Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode to join the APC and the insistence by many APC members and leaders that Mr. Fani-Kayode is not welcome to join APC because he doesn’t have the values required to be a member, Dr. Sam Amadi, a good friend of mine argued that ‘APC has no defined values or defining values. APC is a normless contraption, like Nigeria.’ Another gentleman, on the platform of Prof. Toyin Falola-facilitated USA- Africa Dialogue Series asked the questions, ‘Are the parties (APC and PDP) anything more than instruments for capturing power? Do they have any significant ideological values? Are their members not the same people who have crisscrossed parties in the name of where to gain power?’
These are very common questions in Nigeria, and it is almost predictable, no matter the effort and evidence provided, it will hardly satisfy those asking the questions. Should one therefore bother to respond? The answer is resounding yes, if not for anything so that we are able to understand one another even as those of us who the questions are directed at may not be respected. Be that as it may, it is a burden which anyone who genuinely wants to campaign for positive change in our societies should be able to endure. Part of the difficult challenge is that we have increasingly pushed ourselves to a very grim reality whereby it is almost impossible to have a decent scholarly conversation. Our language is abusive and derogatory on one another. Against every odd, one will try to present the position as it should be or as it ought to be. In doing that, I will not want to be academic at all. And my objective is not necessarily to win any support even as it may be advantageous if that happens. The objective is just to highlight a perspective in terms of what should be the orientation we should have in order to contribute to the development of our politics.
Politics is a matter of choice. We make those choices not because parties we subscribe to are perfect. No party in the world is perfect. If anything, what eventually come out as the defining values of a political party are the values of members. Often, the values of leaders equate the values of political parties. Does this mean leaders have the same values? Hardly so. The standard is that there would be minimum shared values. Even when those minimum shared values reflect a consensus, there will have to be sustained internal struggles within parties to retain those values. We can theorise about this, but to be able to have sustained internal struggles within parties, there have to be people who commit themselves to take the necessary risks to initiate engagements with leaders to affirm the required minimum values.
Part of the tragedy we have in Nigeria is that there was a fundamental mistake made in 1998/99 when this democracy was being negotiated. Very few who could project the right values in politics gave the Fourth Republic any chance. Apart from many of our old politicians of the First and Second Republic who still had values, people like the late Chief Alex Ekwueme, the late Chief Bola Ige, the late Alh. Adamu Ciroma, the late Alh. Abubakar Rimi, etc. the emerging political space was largely vacant. Even in the case of people like the late Chief Bola Ige, it is debatable if they joined politics of the Fourth Republic with all the convictions and commitment.
Given very high conviction and commitment, Alliance for Democracy (AD) wouldn’t have been a junior partner in the alliance it had with the All Peoples Party (APP) in the presidential contest of 1999 elections. May be, if they had such a high conviction and commitment, given the politics of appeasing the Yoruba and South West on account of the injustice of the June 12, 1993 annulment, the dynamics of the negotiations that produced former President Olusegun Obasanjo as the leading candidate for the election would have changed. Or, it may have substantially altered the coloration of the leadership that emerged in 1999. Our democracy may have been saved from the highhanded orientation of PDP under the abrasive political management of former President Obasanjo.
There were many instances whereby people highly inexperienced and never prepared for any leadership roles, emerged as candidates of our leading parties and became elected. This is not a sectional issue. It is a reality that covered every part of the country. Once they got elected, they entrenched themselves. Unfortunately, the expectation that democracy would not survive didn’t happen. We are now 20 years into the Fourth Republic with no end in sight. Instead, it is getting more and more stable. Should we therefore continue to distance ourselves because we only expect the worst out of our democracy? Is our life vision only limited to expecting bad things?
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With all its problems, there appears some progress in our democracy. It may not be the kind of progress anyone with good knowledge of democracy should be happy with, but progress, nonetheless. What should be the attitude of every Nigerian, especially those that want to achieve some minimum targets in their lifetime? What should even be those targets? If I have made the choice to join politics, should my target be to contest elections and therefore become one of the elected leaders based on which I am able to make a difference? How different will I be from others who have made similar choices but ended up as disappointments and in some cases being worse than the political leaders, we all complained about?
Being privileged people, able to articulate our position, most times we reduced these issues to some literary vocation. Almost in the passion of school debates, it becomes just a matter for or against our leaders. Politics requires much more than that. If I want to be trusted, I must earn it and perhaps the best way to earn it is to be able to risk trusting others. The big test of my commitment is what happens when our leaders betray trust. How am I able to detect that leaders have betrayed or are betraying trust? At what point am I able to detect it? Is it after the damage is done? Or am I able to detect it before the damage is done? What happens thereafter? Am I able to influence our leaders to initiate the process of rectifying the problem themselves?
These are practical issues. 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.
As activists who have spent all our lives in the business of advocacy for societal change, we need to be courageous to engage these issues with a commitment to produce some practical responses no matter how little in our national politics. When one encounters the kind of statement that ‘contraption like Nigeria’ from enlightened people like Dr. Amadi, it is quite worrisome. What in this world is not a contraption? Even our personalities, is it not contraption? Why did God have to send us to this world through the union of men and women? After sending us down to this world, we had to go through processes of socialisation that defined us in so many different ways. We became races, tribes, religious groups, etc. How much influences did any of us have in all the processes of human contraptions that ended up conferring us with all the different identities which today we use as justifications very liberally for hating one another?
Often, we use all these aggressive languages to weaken the confidence of people we regard as opponents. It is a universal reality. It is the same strategy used to promote racial and gender inequality. Therefore, we can be proud of our identity, our choices, etc. but once we begin to speak to each other in derogatory terms, we lose our humanity. If our politics is defined only in those derogatory terms, then we are as useless as any other leader we seek to condemn. It doesn’t matter our sophistication, qualification or any quality we chose to claim.
Therefore, everyone can make his/her choices. For Dr. Amadi and all my PDP friends and colleagues, I will always respect your choices. Thanks to Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, at the beginning of my partisan political adventure in 2010, one of our dreams was to reform the PDP. I was proud to be associated with very brilliantly high-flying aspiring Nigerians, including Dr. Amadi, in that adventurous vision. We had very good inspirations from Sen. Ken Nnamani and Rt. Hon. Aminu Bello Masari. With their popular political credentials of extinguishing any political oxygen in former President Obasanjo’s term, it was a dream come true to be associated with such credible political leaders. Together with many PDP leaders, these leaders were able to force a campaign for reforming the PDP around 2009/2010. The failure of that campaign was the beginning of the disintegration of PDP. This is never because of any plan by anyone to destroy the party.
Without going into details, the capacity to test a 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 successfully negotiate the merger, it meant that they were responsive to the reality that without being able to merge they could not win an election at the national level. You can say that the negotiation only produced an 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.
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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 represents the qualitative difference between the APC and PDP. If it were PDP, once the national chairman of the party acts 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 succeeded, it would be hopeless as the new party would 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 them?
There will be many instances of possibility that our leaders and our party may take wrong decisions. Our capacity to correct those wrong decisions is what our politics requires 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 Mr. 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 a 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 one-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!
Dr. Lukman is the Director-General of the Progressive Governors Forum. His position here does not represent the view of any APC governor or the Progressive Governors Forum.
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For The Record
Acceptance Speech For Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award By Canadian Association Of African Studies
By Toyin Falola
I am grateful to Mr. President, the Vice-President, the Past President, the Director, the Board Members, and all the members of the Canadian Association of African Studies (CAAS). Having been conferred with the Distinguished Africanist Award by the African Studies Association in 2011, I never expected that another one would follow by yet another global preeminent academic association.
I stand before you at this honorable time, emotionally touched by your generosity towards me and greatly inspired by your rare gesture of recognizing the little I have contributed to knowledge production and the rejuvenation of African epistemic traditions. The decision to acknowledge me, perhaps unknown to you, rekindles in me the spirit of continued dedication, for it reveals that the ability to make changes is unrestricted by age or location, especially when the soul is involved. Meanwhile, change is necessary for sustainable and transcendental transformation; without change, ideas would die of exhaustion, creativity would cease to be itself, and productivity would be sabotaged in the process.
Mr. President, it was within the foundational philosophy of this noble Association to promote the study of Africa in Canada and the world. Over the years, CAAS has done so as a moral and ideological responsibility, thereby contributing to African-Canada relations. That philosophy has yielded substantial results and that we are here today to produce rounds of knowledge affirms the sanctity of this togetherness. When I contributed my tiny quota to your goals by way of once organizing a conference for you, giving two Keynote Addresses, serving on the Joel Gregory Book Prize, and evaluating manuscripts for your preeminent journal, I never knew that a day like this would come. I feel most humbled and grateful, and with limitless appreciation for the confidence you have reposed in me and an unalloyed dedication to honor your belief in me, I accept the Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award from CAAS.
Distinguished scholars and members of the audience, I am now in the circle of remarkable intellectuals whom you have acknowledged for similar outstanding contributions and performances in their various fields, and I feel the burden of greater responsibility on me. Of a truth, I am an individual culturally reified in a philosophical paradigm of the Yorùbá whose axiomatic saying “Yin’ni, yin’ni, kẹ́ni ó ṣe òmíràn,” which loosely translates as a repeated shower of gratitude is a clarion call to do more, or to whom much is given, much is expected. This has often placed on me the moral burden to expand whatever it is I am recognized for doing. I am aware that it is not within the moral circumference of any culture in the world to publicly award evil, and that presupposes that my contributions to knowledge, which have been recognized, are expected to be multiplied. By virtue of my age, such consistency may be conflicted by nature, but that does undermine the reality that the manifestation of knowledge contribution is fluid and flexible. This means that even if creating a network of knowledge transmission through my books, lectures, listservs, and workshops experiences would decline, age cannot take away from me mentorship to our coming generations of Africans, assisting the academic fledglings to grow, and providing a friendly atmosphere to intending academics.
Mr. President, if we have collectively learned anything from the beautiful development experienced recently as a human family, it would be that the place of knowledge cannot be overemphasized in transforming and sustaining human society. Although this understanding should not elude anyone, we should not be ignorant that knowledge production, distribution, use, and reformation can never be as innocent as we have been made to understand it. This deduction finds its strength in the fact that if it is true that knowledge production is devoid of strange politics, this distinguished body, the Canadian Association of African Studies, would not have been birthed in the first place. However, the awareness that knowledge engagements available in the diasporic environment, especially in Canada, are potentially hostile and hegemonic necessitated an association such as this. CAAS is irrevocably committed to the advancement and upsurge of knowledge so that the epistemic traditions and foundations of Africans here would escape the compromise that the environment proposes. We have both a moral and ideological responsibility to rescue African Studies epistemically because this place has a glistering history that must never be undermined―glistering because the strength and struggles of the displaced Indigenous people have produced stellar results that today’s reality of Africans here has drawn from. Essentially, you and I owe ourselves the right to develop and build a civilization that reflects our thinking.
Ladies and gentlemen, have you not established methodologies in developing and nurturing this Association with which information is sourced and education transferred? Have you failed to raise intellectually vibrant Africans leading in several areas of their careers with excellent and exceptional impact? Have you not created a healthy academic atmosphere where knowledge about critical issues related to Africa has been consistently shared? Mr. President, within the time of establishment, you have, as a collective, harmonized the ideas of outstanding contributors to this project to drive policies and services of immense significance to the various areas of existence. Through the persistent insistence of CAAS, the Canadian Journal of African Studies (CJAS) was created. Who among us here would deny the overwhelming contributions of the journal to African academics? Is it not a journal that provides the platform and motivation for academia who have showcased brilliance and excellence in their research engagements? Have you not also created an opportunity for government representatives, leaders, non-governmental organizations, activists, and non-state actors, among others, to draw on knowledge for policies that drive critical development?
Distinguished scholars, colleagues, and friends, you have, in good dispositions, facilitated the meteoric growth of intellectualism from the beginning of our engagement, and that tradition has continued regardless of different challenges, which your dedication has helped you to overcome. How else can we reiterate the importance of CAAS to the survival of the African identity in the diaspora environment if not through the enumeration of the great things you have done as a people and as an Association? CAAS has stood up for numerous Africans who have witnessed various forms of dreadful challenges because of the color of their skin. The Association has committed itself to issues of development within the Federation to emphasize how its members are concerned about rapid progress for the generality of Canadians. The number of conferences organized by CAAS continues to grow admirably, through which they offer fresh opportunities for scholars across the globe who have brilliant ideas to share with the world, especially by looking at issues from the lens of Africa and Africans. CAAS has always taken on fundamental matters that require urgent attention, and in the spirit of humanitarian compassion, you have executed projects that bring invaluable additions to the human world. That underscores your values as a people and your commitment to making meaningful changes in the global environment. You have enlarged our desire to promote ideas that would bring rapid changes to the human world through the programs, events, and platforms you have created within the time of your existence as an association for scholarship and human flourishing.
Mr. President, your decision to honor me with the Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award is a form of affirmation by you and the members of the Association to ensure that individuals like me have a continued focus on enhancing a brighter future for the African diaspora. Although I am the recipient of that award, the inspiration it would encourage will not fall on my shoulders alone, for I am confident that those who are available here today will feel that sense of commitment and seriousness, as I do, to issues that would benefit Africa and the world generally. Therefore, this honor is for us all! I am inclined to think this way because I know that the human spirit wants to be triggered by the external motivation to perform the magic already wired in them or that they are naturally capable of.
The continually evolving world, ladies and gentlemen, demands that we also reposition ourselves and understand more deeply the sense of responsibility we owe the generations of Africans to come. We must not forget that it is important that we continue to interrogate ideas produced by our forebears, for they can be more relevant in the modern world than we imagine. Ideas are the result of human mental energy put to use in the course of refining the thoughts in the mind. All we need is to intensify our research trade and ensure that we introduce ideas for the benefit of humankind.
I am most grateful to you all for the well-intentioned recognition accorded to me, leading to this exemplary award. It is mind-blowing and, at the same time, humbling, to say the least. Africa will continue to find its footing, and we will never cease to take the world by surprise.
May 31, 2023.
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Toyin Falola Honoured In Canada For Contribution To African Studies
The Canadian Association of African Studies (CAAS) has awarded United States-based Nigerian professor of history Toyin Falola the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award for Contribution to African Studies .
In a letter announcing the award, CAAS told Prof. Falola that it recognized his exceptional contributions, unwavering dedication, and profound impact on the field of African Studies in Canada and beyond.
The CAAS Lifetime Achievement Award for Contribution to African Studies recognizes senior scholars who have been engaged actively as CAAS stalwarts and have retired or nearing retirement. The requirements are (1) a lifetime of sound scholarship; (2) accomplishments (research, teaching and mentoring awards, etc.) and (3) involvement in the activities of CAAS.
The letter said: “Your achievements as a renowned historian and an esteemed member of the academic community meet all these criteria at an extremely high level.Throughout your illustrious career, you have made significant contributions to the advancement of African Studies, leaving an indelible mark on the discipline. Your pioneering research, insightful publications, and dedication to mentoring a new generation of scholars have significantly enriched our understanding of Africa’s history, culture, and society. Your profound influence extends beyond research and publications. You have been actively engaged in the academic community, serving as a keynote speaker at CAAS conferences (as we can witness at this year’s conference) and co-organizing the successful CAAS conference at York University in 1991. Your tireless efforts in reviewing scholarly works for the Canadian Journal of African Studies and your longstanding role on the editorial board of the Harriet Tubman Series on the African Diaspora at York University further demonstrate your commitment to advancing the field.
“In addition to your invaluable contributions to CAAS, your impact on the Canadian academic landscape is remarkable. As an external examiner at esteemed Canadian universities, including the University of Toronto, York University, Dalhousie, Trent University, and Queens University, you have played an integral role in shaping the academic rigor and quality of African Studies programs across the country. Moreover, your mentoring of Africanist scholars based in Canada has nurtured and inspired a new generation of researchers and intellectuals. In that regard, you have supervised more than 100 Master’s and Doctoral dissertations in your areas of specialization. Your noteworthy achievements have garnered global recognition and acclaim. You have been the recipient of numerous prestigious awards, including the 2011 Distinguished Africanist Award from the African Studies Association (ASA) and an impressive tally of over 40-lifetime awards from various countries. With 16 honorary doctorates documented in your vita, you stand as a true luminary in the field. Recently, on Tuesday, October 11, 2022, at State House, Abuja, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari conferred on you, one of the nation’s oldest and highest merit honors, the Member of the Order of the Niger (MON). This is proof of the degree of recognition that you have enjoyed in your homeland.
“On behalf of the Canadian Association of African Studies, I extend our deep congratulations to you on this well-deserved honor. Your exceptional contributions, unwavering commitment, and outstanding achievements serve as an inspiration to all Africanists and scholars in related fields in Canada and globally.”
The letter added: “Please note that the award will be formally announced at the CAAS Annual General Meeting on Wednesday, May 31, 2023, at 5:00 pm. The venue for the meeting is Founders College, FC 152, York University, and the event will be in a Hybrid format. More information will be provided to enable you to invite family and friends to witness the award ceremony segment of the AGM.” The letter was signed by Nduka Otiono, PhD.
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