By; JACOB ONJEWU DICKSON
Ahead of the national convention of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), a chieftain of the party and the Director General of the Progressive Governors Forum (PFG) Salihu Moh Lukman, has emphasized the importance of electronic membership registration by the incoming National Working Committee (NWC).
Lukman also explained other measures he thinks should be implemented to make the APC function more effectively as a real progressive political party.
Speaking while featuring on an AIT programme, JIGSAW where he expounded on his new book; APC Litmus Test, Wednesday in Abuja, the APC chieftain said the recent internal crisis that rocked the party do not necessarily mean that the party will implode, adding that as a convergence of people from diverse backgrounds and interests, there are bound to be minor disagreements.
“I believe as a party, immediately after the Convention, the first thing the new leadership should do is to have a membership data that is computerized. We can’t continue to have a situation where our membership data is not electronically preserved. We must ensure that our membership data is updated electronically without the tedious process of handling it in an analogue way.
“Secondly, we must have a national secretariat because membership is everything to a political party, a situation where the administrative framework of the national secretariat is so weak and loosed that it link to what is obtainable at the local government and state levels and creates its own complications. So the first thing the new leadership must do is to reorganize the national secretariat in such a way it has that organic relation between it and all the structures of the party so that at the ward level, even if somebody leaves the party, it will be immediately known by the national leadership, and if somebody joins the party, he should be quietly be registered at the ward without the noise in the media, it should be seamless.”
He noted that even before and even immediately after the meager that brought about the APC, many analysts had thought that the party was going to disintegrate, assuring that whatever seems to be the situation today will still be handled by the party.
“It is important to return to the basic framework that every party is an organization that has various interests. It is difficult to have a political party where people do not have diverse interests. But the most important is to have and build a party where the aggregation of the various interests will be able to win the mandate.
“The major issue is that even before the meager, there is the notion that parties do not have the power to win the confidence of the people as it were. I also do not think that while negotiating for the meager, nobody believed it was going to be a party that can appeal to everybody. Even some people in the meager had sympathy for the PDP then.
“One basic issue is the need to have strong point about the need to institute reconciliation within the party. The major issue we have insisted is that you can’t have a political party without a credible membership register. Good enough the Caretaker Committee bought that idea and we have done it and that is the basic of the new book I have written. It is a contribution to help in an advisory capacity to support the leadership to know what needs to be done to make the party appeal to the Nigerian people.”
According to Lukman, the party must be ran democratically where all the organs have the opportunity to discharge their functions unlike what obtained in the last National Working Committee (NWC) that did not function in tandem with the books of the party.
“There is the need for the party to be democratic which means that organs of the party should be meeting regularly to be taking decisions; when we talk about party supremacy, it is not the position of an individual leader that should serve as supremacy of the party when the organs are not meeting which is the major issue with the last NWC, the National executive Committee (NEC) wasn’t meeting, the only organ that was meeting was the administrative organ and it was difficult at that time to now say that the Constitution of the party was being respected.
“The second issue is what we can call the ideological thrust of the party. This is the party that was envisioned to be progressive, what it means to be progressive has to do with the capacity to issue related to governance and politics and decisions in terms of what is in the best interest of the people. This is a very hard decision, they may not be attractive but generally, being progressive is about taking popular decisions, it is not about those cheap decisions that people take and which is why my basic position is that these are not issues that can be sorted out if you don’t go back to lay solid foundation in terms of how the party recruits members, for instance, and this is not just with the APC, it is basically the same for every political party.
“The relationship between the political parties and Nigerians is so weak and that is the argument I am canvassing in that book, it dwells on the type of relationship the party should have with interest groups, non government actors, youth organizations, women organizations, persons living with disabilities.”
The DG also threw a spike at former Governor Ali Modu Sheriff who had last week boasted that the APC will rule the country for 40 years, describing such comments as far from what should be coming from a progressive politician.
“The other issue is how the party organizes itself, we can’t have a party where for instance I have seen recently somebody aspiring for national chairmanship of the party saying the party needs a tough person to rule up to 40 years. That is not how a progressive should be thinking, a progressive should be thinking of how to endear himself to the citizens, it is not a question of how long you rule but how you are able to constantly endeared yourself to the citizens. If you say you want to rule for 40 years, it is a question of going to lobby citizens to vote you, this is where we are coming from in terms of manipulating elections and what have you and these are the brutal issues in terms of politics in Nigeria which will take time to change, and it is not a one day thing, it is a life journey and we have to embark on that journey.”
He also lauded the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker Committee for the manner it has been organizing the party congresses saying moving forward, it will be difficult for any one individual to hijack the organs of the party at the ward level.
“The Caretaker Committee has taken a very excellent decision based on the logic that the framework is to ensure that everybody is registered in the party, so when they took the decision to that there should be a consensus, it is a departure from the old framework whereby people with financial muscle will go and ensure they win elections at congress level. Now the Caretaker Committee said everybody must be represented and that is the whole idea, so if every block is represented, you don’t have started departing from the old framework where the person who has the muscle will come and take over all the leadership and when you come to do primaries, that person is already guaranteed, now it is no longer the case, everybody will now be represented.”
On the spate of insecurity in the country, Lukman said contrary to insinuations, insurgency was not the only problem troubling the country pre-2015.
He noted that despite the fact that there were cases of cattle rustling in the entire North as far back as 2013 as well as kidnapping in the Southern parts of the country.
He noted that security were overstretched adding that the country will continue to be confronted with some of these issues as long as a majority of Nigerians were not properly and meaningfully engaged.
He added that governments at various levels must find a way of making positive use of the abundant human resources because the over reliance on oil revenue will not solve the problems.