Salihu Moh. Lukman, Director General, Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF), has alerted leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) that the party had given a wide berth to the manifesto that it sold to receive the mandate of Nigerians in 2015, especially with reference to the worsening insecurity in the country.
Lukman has, therefore, cautioned that no amount of propaganda would alter the reality that citizens are not getting their due from the ruling party with regards to the avowed promise of APC to protection of lives and property.
While he acknowledged that genuine effort had been made, he also noted that noticed lapses had serious consequences for the party’s current electoral advantage.
In a keynote presentation at the 2020 annual general meeting of the APC Press Corps entitled, ‘Political Contestation in Nigeria: Challenges of Benchmarking Party Manifesto’, Lukman cautioned that APC faithful must stir away from justifying and defending all actions of leaders.
He said that members must realise that political leaders were not infallible and should be assisted to maintain the electoral advantage of the party, not detract from it.
He said: “Often, many of us make the mistake of imagining that our responsibility is to rationalise the decisions of our party and our leaders.
“Yes, we need to justify and defend decisions of our party and our leaders to the best of our ability.
“At every opportunity, we must lead the advocacy to promote our party and our leaders.
“Beyond that, however, we must be in a position to protect the electoral advantages of our party.
“This is largely because once we lose those advantages, all the public attention we enjoy today will disappear.
“Therefore, as much as we should defend and promote decisions of our leaders, we must do so bearing in mind that in the end politics is about serving citizens.
“In any event, we must remember that like any human organisation, our party is not perfect and our responsibility is to constantly work to improve on the capacity of the party to grow and effectively provide us with the platform to be able to engage in political contests. In other words, our party is work-in-progress.”
In this context, Lukman observed that the salient policy thrust that would have stemmed present security threats in consonance with APC manifesto had been jettisoned or stepped-down by leaders, giving the opposition room to question the performance of the ruling party.
Lukman lauded the ongoing debate to benchmark the performance of political parties on the security situation in the country.
According to him, “Closer scrutiny will show that a major gap exists in the area of accountability and delivery by our respective security services. This is an area that our party manifesto was very clear, and we need to begin to initiate and speed up implementation.
“It may be worth recalling the six proposals contained in the section Keeping Nigeria Safe, especially regarding commitment on Accountability & Delivery on page 19 of our manifesto as follows:
“Create a Federal Anti-Terrorism Agency (FATA), with properly trained and professional staff combining elements of both Police and the State Security Service, which would be fully accountable to the National Assembly to conduct anti-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations.
“Develop, promote and implement a public accountability framework to enhance the operational autonomy and efficiency of the military, police and other security agencies in the discharge of their constitutional mandates.
“Develop the oversight of local policing, including the nomination of the State Police Commissioner and management of the prison service to the state.
“Establish a Federal Police Complaints Authority and Ombudsman to provide a transparent process for ordinary Nigerians to raise complaints over police conduct.
“Promote peaceful and harmonious coexistence by ensuring that Nigerians are free to live, work and worship in any part of the country without let or hindrance and introduce legislation to outlaw inflammatory hate speech.
“Protect the country against external aggression and enhance our national security through stricter control of our borders while maintaining strong, close and beneficial relationships with our neighbours and other countries.
“Without claiming to be a security expert, these proposals would appear to be very much needed.
“It is possible that both the Minister of Defence, Minister of Police Affairs and Minister of Interior, may not have reviewed provisions of this section of our party’s manifesto in developing initiatives being implemented.
“Or, if they did, they may have stepped down implementation of initiatives bordering on this, which may require strengthened legal and institutional frameworks.
“We need to appeal to our ministers to revisit this provision of our manifesto and develop complementary initiatives.
“Without any contemplation, any discerning mind would appreciate that FATA and Federal Police Complaints Authority and Ombudsman are still very much needed.”
He insisted that politicians, contrary to claims, do not have all the solutions.
“Thus, beyond propaganda, both as citizens and party members, we have a responsibility to get our leaders to apply themselves very effectively and honestly to resolve our societal and national challenges.
“Achieving this entails that our leaders should recognise they don’t have all the solutions.
“This is where as politicians, most times we fail because we engage citizens with the false claim that we have all the answers and anyone with a contrary position is an opponent, if not enemy.
“Once this is the case, ab initio, political contestation is blocked. We should always remember that leadership comes with some baseline capacity and competence to be able to organise responses to challenges.
“Capacity to access proposals and translate them into initiatives is an integral part of leadership capacity and competence,” he added. Independent Newspaper reporting for;
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