Nigeria: APC Becoming More Like PDP, Needs Constitutional Reforms - DG, PGF

9 August 2020

Director-General of the Progressive Governors' Forum PGF, Salihu Moh. Lukman has lamented how the All Progressives Congress APC was fast going the way of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party PDP in terms of copying their undemocratic practices, calling on the Gov Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker/Extraordinary National Convention Planning Committee to kick-start the process of reviewing the party's constitution.

While demanding for a code of conduct for public officers elected on the party's platform, Lukman, in a statement on Sunday said the Buni-led Committee must ensure that the incoming members of the National Working Committee NWC are not stooges of any power bloc with sights on the 2023 presidency.

He said it would be great to have all the political tendencies in the party reflected in the NWC that would be emerging after the extraordinary national convention of the party which holds later in the year.

According to him, the reality is that the last activity of the party that differentiated APC from all other political parties was December 10, 2014, National Convention which produced President Buhari as the Presidential candidate of the party for the 2015 election.

"By every standard, that Convention and the primary election that produced President Buhari as the Presidential candidate for the 2015 election was adjudged to be transparent, fair and democratic even by fellow aspirants who lost the contest - Dr Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, Alh Atiku Abubakar, Rochas Okorocha and Mr Sam Nda Isaiah.

"Thereafter, almost all the negative characteristics associated with the PDP and all the other parties became dominant features of APC. Most of the leadership conflict in the party, across all the 36 states bordered on issues of who control the structures of the party so much that political bullying is now assuming a major feature in the APC.

"Anyone who criticises or make remarks that are not in sync with what leaders want to be propagated, get bullied and at the slightest opportunity, such persons are pushed out of positions they occupy, especially if it is an elective position. With all these, hardly any contest take place. All that keeps emerging is conflict even when we are expected to have elections,", he said.

Like PDP, like APC

Consequently, Lukman said "the APC is being corrupted by every passing day and therefore becoming more and more closer to PDP and in some cases even worse than PDP. Unlike PDP however, it needs to be recognised that in terms of accommodating dissent within the party, APC is more liberal, largely because President Buhari truly 'belong to everyone and belong to no one'.

It is only because of the singular factor of President Buhari that groups of elected representatives in both the House of Representatives and the Senate could organise to produce leadership in 2015 against the wishes of the party. While this is certainly unacceptable, it may simply suggest either gap in provisions of internal rules of the APC or complete absence of rules required to regulate the conducts of elected representatives of the party.

Constitution Review

"The other associated possibility is that the phenomenon of political bullying could be reduced since the problem of monopolising party membership is being minimised. But this will require that individual member of the party are able to assert themselves and ignore the threats of political bullies.

It just means that courageous members are able to rise above the desperation of accessing political offices. This is a hard call that could be suicidal for many party members. Beyond the courage of individual party members however, the party should consider taking all the appropriate steps to strengthen internal party rules as provided in the constitution of the party.

Given all the experiences, so far, it is only logical that the Mai Mala Buni Caretaker/Convention Working Committee is able to set up a constitution review committee and present proposals for amendments to the Extraordinary National Convention.

Code of Conduct

"Beyond proposals for a constitutional amendment, there is the urgent need to consider developing proposed code of conduct for elected and appointed officials of the party as bye-laws to regulate the conduct of party leaders.

This is necessary in order to prevent situations whereby officials of the party will not abuse their offices and conduct themselves in manners that could undermine the party's commitment to the principles of public accountability or even get stretched to issues bordering on criminal conduct and the probable extension of strategies of political bullying to include the deployment of state law enforcement machinery and officials against fellow citizens and party members.

Membership recruitment drive

"These are practical issues. If APC is to open itself through membership recruitment, the debate around the issue of whether there is a credible and verifiable membership register will not be taking place. Rather, appropriate steps should have been taken to ensure the existence of a credible and verifiable membership register. This may be a case of improving on what is already in existence.

To improve on what exists may have to involve all structures of the party, so that the question of managing the membership register is also not in dispute. For instance, how members are recruited would have a lot of implication in terms of the format that would be used to guarantee participation.

Take for instance, the argument that APC membership register is domicile on the Cloud. Who uploads it to the Cloud with whose authority and who is managing it? How was it generated in the first place? Are the members of the APC in the register that is said to exist on the Cloud, financial members? Who did they pay their membership dues to?", He queried.

Lukman said given that the most important mandate of the Mai Mala Buni Caretaker/Convention Working Committee is to organise a National Convention where new leadership will be elected, steps must be taken to ensure that the new leadership that will emerge are not nominees of potential presidential candidates.

According to him, the best way to check whether new leaders are nominees of potential presidential candidates would be to look at the availability of a credible and verifiable membership register.

"It is possible that the process may still tilt in favour of some of the emerging power blocs within the party. However, if managed very well, it will be almost impossible for any single power bloc in the party to comfortably dominate the structures of the party across all the 36 states of the country and FCT. This will help to humble all the potential aspirants especially for the 2023 Presidential election, thereby democratising power in the APC", he stated.

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