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APC And The Question Of Values

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Issues For APC 2023 Presidential Campaign

By

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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Tinubu Urges Obi To Caution Supporters Against Spreading Lies

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Tinubu Urges Obi To Caution Supporters Against Spreading Lies

The All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate Bola Tinubu has urged his Labour Party (LP) counterpart Peter Obi to caution his supporters against spreading lies, denigrating him and other candidates.

In a statement by Bayo Onanuga, the Director of Media and Communications, in the Tinubu Campaign Organisation, the politician warned that “falsehood and disinformation will not win elections.”

“The Tinubu Campaign Organisation has appealed to the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Mr. Peter Obi to call his supporters to order and to allow this election circle to be about issues that will advance the growth, progress and stability of Nigeria,” the statement said.

Onanuga’s comments follow a false report purporting that Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo wrote a letter to Tinubu, asking him to support Peter Obi and focus on his health.

Akufo-Addo denounced the development via his official Twitter account, saying it was a product of deliberate mischief with the intent to deceive the public.

“I have written no such letter to the APC leader, and it will not occur to me to do so. Ghana and Nigeria boast of decades of cordial, strong and brotherly relations, and I am not going to be the one to interfere in the internal affairs and politics of Nigeria,”  Akufo-Addo tweeted on Tuesday.

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“We have found that the fake news about Akufo-Addo’s letter was first published on June 22 by a rogue platform, whose URL reads as worlsnews.space (sic) and site identity as World of News,” the statement said.

“A content analysis of the site clearly showed that it is a Biafra news platform. The fake news was reposted on Facebook by Peter Obi Support Group, same day – a clear proof that Biafra campaigners and Peter Obi supporters are the same.”

The Nigerian general election is billed for February 2023 but political shenanigans are set to ramp up as campaigns officially commence in September, according to INEC timetable.

Messrs Tinubu, Obi and former vice president Atiku Abubakar of the PDP are seen as the main contenders in the poll.

 

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Why Nigerians Should Return To Study Of History – Falola

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Why Nigerians Should Return To Study Of History - Falola
Prof. Toyin Falola

A renowned historian Prof. Toyin Falola has urged Nigerians to return to an active study of history in order to overcome their myriad individual and national crises.

Falola made the call as he decried the relegation of history while giving the Second Distinguished Lecture of the Department of History of the Lagos State University today Wednesday.

He said: “While history was material in the predominance of Nigerian nationalism during the colonial era, it is rather lacking in contemporary society. Until recently, the Nigerian government stopped the compulsory teaching of history in primary and secondary schools, making the subject optional for students. Few university students now study history because they choose to or find themselves in that situation. If Nigeria would rebuild its nationalism values to keep a tab on its developmental course, there would be a need for more investment in historical research and studying the subject from primary to tertiary education level as a necessity and not an option. If history has been important in inciting nationalists and nationalism has been material in the development of the country across all sectors, it is, therefore, important to go back to the drawing board and reintroduce history to Nigeria’s educational system from the beginning of every Nigerian educational journey to the end.”

In the lecture titled “History and the Nation”, Falola declared that a “nation is the reflection of its history. History connects the past, the present, and the future in one streak of the line through problems, solutions, changes, continuity, legenderies, and normalcy; therefore, it is core to the existence of a nation and important for its future.”

According to the famous Nigerian scholar based in the United States, history is the memory of the nation by which all sectors, through their specific past, navigate current processes and prepare for other impacts.

“As the memory of the nation, history is built from singular lines of memories and records of the activities of individuals and the collective memories of everyone, institutions, and processes that have occurred through time. These memories cut across the nation’s social, cultural, and systematised past, as well as the foundation for co-existence within a society and interaction with other societies”, he said.

READ ALSO: Falola Delivers Lagos Technical Education College’s Lecture, Gets First Technical University’s D.Sc

He noted that what “makes a nation is not only territorial distribution or the occupation of the spaces but also the historical properties and ties that bind the people together. Generational identification is passed down, which binds the social structures that constitute the nation.”

Thus, for Falola, if Nigeria will be involved in nation-building, “the people must understand their cultural activities in order to reclaim their African pride and strive according to their pace and orientation. The nation can only achieve this by circulating historical knowledge in its objective and authentic form. Even if the world cannot change from those periods, exposing contemporary Nigerian citizens to the past would help develop their minds and make them see the wisdom in the cultural attributes of the past. It would allow a sense of belonging to an origin and ways of life distinct from contemporary ones.”

According to Falola, Nigeria can look back at its past to find solutions to the contemporary problems plaguing it.

As he put it : “The essence of history transcends the study of the past alone; it includes the study of the past to understand the present and plan for the future. The nation’s memory helps to understand a present predicament while reflecting on past problems and working towards solutions. History helps to bring back past wisdom, understanding, techniques and methodology to help solve today’s puzzle and create hope for the future. It has always been said that there is almost no event that does not have a similitude to its past circumstances and that the past holds answers to many of the contemporary ponderings …History offers the nation an opportunity to look back at the beginning of the problems to understand the underlying reasons. History allows the nation to reapply past solutions to similar problems or develop them to fit into the contemporary nature of those problems. ”

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Falola added : “The history of every nation is in the details of every path it has taken and events that have occurred over the years. History holds the nation’s memory so that when time and generations make the citizens forget their origin and how far their nation has strived so hard, history brings back the toils of past generations. With the advent of globalisation and western civilisation that has caused aggressive cultural diffusion, history has remained the only factor that keeps the nation in check and the hope of allowing the people to find their identity once more.

“Nations cannot survive or stand without strong men, women, and institutions to chart the trajectories of their development and integrity. These individuals are those nationalists convinced to fight for a better situation in the country. To build motivations geared towards recreating committed individuals who would swear unflinching loyalty to their country despite the disappointments, history must be made an inciting force to realise this national ambition.

“One other important national process in national development is the duty of every nation and government to ensure that the country progresses and that national development is ensured in order to guarantee good quality of life and standard of living. Any country that cannot do this has undoubtedly failed its purpose. The current state of Nigeria has made us doubt the development of the country, and the future is unpredictable. However, knowledge of historical facts and events empowers individuals with the skills to make good decisions and build purposeful leadership.”

 

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Akpabio, Lawan Remain Disqualified From Senatorial Election – INEC

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The senatorial ambitions of former Minister of Niger Delta Godswill Akpabio and Senate President Ahmed Lawan in 2023 may have irrevocably failed.

This is because the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Tuesday denied altering electoral documents in favour of Lawan and Akpabio.

Names of the duo were missing from the list of successfully nominated candidates submitted to INEC by the 18 political parties in June.

Having lost out in their quest for the 2023 presidential ticket of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Messrs Lawan and Akpabio have been making efforts to claim the senatorial tickets of the party for the Yobe North and Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial Districts, respectively.

While Bashir Machina and Udom Ekpoudom had emerged as candidates in the primaries supervised by INEC officials in their respective senatorial zones, the names of Messrs Lawan and Akpabio, who did not participate in the elections were instead forwarded to the commission as candidates.

The acceptance of names was justified by the Akwa-Ibom INEC REC, Mike Igini, but the ultimate decision currently rests with the court.

“INEC has no powers to reject names sent by political parties. Primaries are the sole prerogatives of parties. INEC’s responsibility is merely to monitor the primaries and make sure they abide by their own regulations, the Electoral Act & the Constitution,” Mr Igini said in a report.

However, a media report on Tuesday said INEC had backdated Certified True Copies of reports of the All Progressives Congress (APC) primaries “to accommodate” Messrs Lawan and Akpabio..

Although Akpabio had won a rerun held in the zone, there is no report of a similar election held in Yobe where Machina in Yobe emerged the winner.

In a statement by its spokesperson, Festus Okoye, on Tuesday, INEC denied doctoring or certifying any document in favour of either of the two APC chieftains.

The commission said it had followed through its timetable and there was no point in its schedules where the names of the persons in question were published.

“The forms of the two personalities in question were not published by the commission. The decision of the commission triggered legal actions which are still ongoing. It therefore defies logic and common sense to go around and submit doctored documents purportedly recognising the duo as candidates when the matter is clearly sub-judice,” the statement said.

Okoye said the copy of the form uploaded on the online news platform as evidence, was not properly fact-checked and had thereby encouraged misinformation.

“As part of the ongoing case in court, a law firm requested the commission for a Certified True Copy (CTC) of the Form EC9 submitted by the All Progressives Congress (APC) as its candidate for Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District which we are duty bound to oblige them under the law. The Form was certified on 15th July 2022. If minimum care had been exercised by the promoters of the story, they would have seen the two stamps of the commission bearing different dates on the form. It is this form that is now misconstrued as INEC’ s endorsement.

“For the record, the commission has not recognised either of the two personalities as a senatorial candidate,” Okoye further explained.

He called for responsible reporting of the development just as he described the story by the online platform as an unwarranted attack on the electoral body.

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