By Ikechukwu Okaforadi
The Director General of the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), Salihu Moh. Lukman, has charged the Governor Mai Mala Buni led Caretaker Committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to immediately commence the process of holding a national convention to elect new substantive party leadership.
In a statement issued yesterday by the APC chieftain, he expressed fear that failure to do so and continued managing of the party by the Mai Mala Buni and the national Secretary, John Akpanudoedehe, will spell Doom for the party, as serious crisis may erupt soon.
He advised the caretaker Committee to resist the temptation of seeking another extension of tenure, against the backdrop of a recent allegation that the Forum of APC State chairmen had quarrelled over plans by the Buni committee to seek another tenure extension.
While making a veiled comparison between Oshiomhole leadership and the current Buni leadership and cautioning that the same fate may befall both if national convention is not urgently organized to enthrone substantive leadership, Lukman said “To what extent has the APC Caretaker Committee distinguished itself from the old characteristics of managing the affairs of the party without meetings of organs as provided in the party’s constitution?
“This is the fundamental operational question, which, however considered, would have implication in terms of whether APC leaders are taking the necessary steps to rebuild the party based on any considered vision of progressive politics.
“Somehow, the reality is that in terms of convening meetings of organs of the party, for more than nine months, the Caretaker Committee has not convened any meeting of any organ of the APC apart from the emergency NEC meeting of December 8, 2020. Sadly, even the 13-member Caretaker Committee is hardly meeting.
“Part of the indication is that most decisions taken by the Caretaker Committee were done by the Chairman, His Excellency, Mai Mala Buni and the Secretary, Sen. Akpan Udoedehe. The good thing is that the major challenge of ensuring that the party is able to have a verifiable membership register is being resolved. But without organs meeting as provided in the constitution of the party, where progress reports are given, what is the guarantee that the old problem of having inaccessible membership register will not be replicated.”
He described as “needless” the recent extension of the ongoing membership registration and revalidation exercise, saying such will only strengthen suspicions that the Caretaker Committee was reluctant to organise a National Convention where new leadership of the party will be elected.
“With membership records displayed, timetable for Congresses and National Convention should be set. Under no circumstances should there be any contemplation of extending the tenure of the Caretaker Committee. In order to ensure that no extension is being considered, Committees for Congresses and National Convention should be established without any further delay.
“Similarly, the dates for Congresses and National Convention should be decided. Part of the expectation is that the 13-member Caretaker/Extra-ordinary Convention Working Committee appointed by the emergency National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of June 25, 2020, led by His Excellency, Mai Mala Buni, will take steps to begin to resolve challenges facing the APC, which was difficult to achieve under the dissolved NWC.
“With initial tenure of six months, which was extended by another emergency NEC of December 8, 2020 to June 2021, the work of the Caretaker Committee is expected to end with a National Convention where another leadership should emerge to manage affairs of the party for another four years.”
According to Lukman, conforming to democratic principles requires that initiatives being implemented by the Caretaker Committee are based on decisions taken by competent organs as provided in the constitution of the party.
“Already, given that the party’s membership registration/revalidation exercise was done based on the old analogue method without applying modern virtual technology, what is the guarantee that the process of leadership reformation in the party, from ward congresses up to National Convention, will be done based on the new register? Will all members of the party be able to participate in the process of electing leaders of the party at all levels?”
The PGF DG summoned all leaders of the party to persuade the Buni led Caretaker Committee to quickly conclude the membership registration/verification exercise, saying “Once that is done, negotiation and campaigns for the emergence of party leadership at all levels can commence.
“Negotiation and campaigns for leadership of the party has already started in a low scale. Many caucuses have emerged and some of the issues that will dictate the emergence of new party leaders would include the conventional approaches of zoning and relationship with power blocs in the party. Old affiliations such as membership of the merged parties that form the APC will come up.
“The negotiation will not be easy and if not carefully managed, especially against the background that the Caretaker Committee has not done much to broaden the process of membership participation in decision making within the party, there is a very high possibility that the party will be weakened in terms of conforming with basic democratic principles and progressive ideals.
“APC must avoid situations where political touts are elected to the party’s leadership. APC should elect leaders that can inspire strong belief in members, and by extension Nigerians, that the party is working to resolve its challenges. Once political touts are the new leaders of the party, it simply means weak capacity to resolve challenges facing the party. Instead, the challenges may become worse.”