Rebuilding the APC to Reform Nigerian Politics: Task Before President Tinubu

Rebuilding the APC to Reform Nigerian Politics: Task Before President Tinubu

Friday, June 16, 2023 11:59 am

Salihu Moh. Lukman. Photo credit: The Sun

 APC , Nigerian Politics, President Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Salihu Moh. Lukman,


Salihu Moh. Lukman

With the election of leaders of the 10th National Assembly concluded on Tuesday, June 13, 2023 and the victory of the nominated candidates of the APC for the two chambers (Senate and House of Representatives), President Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, being the leader of the party need to prioritise rebuilding the APC to reform Nigerian politics so that our political parties are developed to grow beyond being mere election vehicles. Rebuilding the APC is simply about returning the party to its founding vision of truly becoming a progressive political party. Prioritising rebuilding the APC to return it to its founding vision is basically about ensuring that all the organs of the party are constituted and allowed to function in line with the provisions of the APC constitution.


Since the time of Chief John Odigie-Oyegun as the National Chairman, the National Executive Committee (NEC), which by the provisions of Article 13.3 A is empowered ‘to be the principal Executive body of the party’, discharging ‘the functions of National Convention in between National Conventions’ has not been meeting quarterly as provided under the APC constitution. In fact, between 2015 and today, not more than eight meetings of NEC held when if the statutory requirement of quarterly meetings provided under the APC constitution has been respected, not less than thirty NEC meetings would have held. Had the NEC been meeting as provided in the APC constitution, members would have stronger power in managing affairs of the APC and most of the challenges facing the party could have been resolved based on decisions of organs of the party.


As it is now, the management of the party is limited to the discretion of the National Chairman and when it is convenient, he involves members of the National Working Committee (NWC). In few cases, the National Chairman gets the NWC to legitimise his decisions when the APC constitution only assign administrative responsibility of implementing decisions of superior organs such as the NEC, National Caucus and National Advisory Council (NAC) to the NWC. In addition to implementing decisions of superior organs, the APC constitution gives the NWC the powers to make specific proposals to facilitate decisions of organs. So far, powers of superior organs of the party have been illegally usurped by the National Chairman and by extension the NWC.


It is quite worrisome that since formation in 2013, the party’s Board of Trustees now renamed National Advisory Council (NAC) was never constituted. Not more than five meetings of National Caucus held and under the current leadership of Sen. Abdullahi Adamu none has held. Lower organs of the party such as Zonal Executive Committees, Zonal Congresses, Working Committees, Executive Committees, Congresses at states, local governments and wards suffer the same problems. Requirement to setup Senatorial District Committees as provided under Article 13.10 of the APC constitution is redundant. Women’s, Youth and Persons Living with Disabilities Wings provided in the APC constitution are left to the discretions of National Women’s Leader, National Youth Leader, and National Leader of Persons Living with Disabilities.


Five Standing Committees established by the APC Constitution were never constituted. These are Establishment, Finance, Publicity, Intergovernmental and Conflict and Reconciliation Committees. Perhaps, the slightest exception is Conflict and Reconciliation, which on about three occasions there were attempts. The first one was initiated by former President Muhammadu Buhari when in February 2018 he gave President Tinubu, then as National Leader of the party the task of reconciling aggrieved members of the party. The second was when the leadership of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole around 2019 appointed Chief Bisi Akande reconciliation committee. The third was when the Caretaker Committee under the leadership of His Excellency Mai Mala appointed the Sen. Abdullahi Adamu led National Reconciliation Committee in 2021. All these instances were not approved by the NEC as required under Article 18(i) of the APC constitution.


The sad reality is that the APC as constituted today is only a shadow of itself with a National Chairman that is highly unaccountable running affairs of the party more as a garrison commander. He relates with his colleagues in the NWC just like his appointees. In their name he meets other leaders of the party and seek to manipulate party decisions to suite personal vested interests that is only known to him. Recall the shameful attempt to impose Sen. Ahmed Lawan as the consensus Presidential candidate of the party. In all the so-called consultations he claimed to have had with other leaders of the party on the matter, perhaps except for the National Secretary, no member of the NWC was either informed of the details of the consultations or invited. Similarly, the NWC was never invited to consider any proposal being negotiated. It was only on June 6, 2022, ahead of the June 8, 2022 National Convention that Sen. Adamu invited the NWC only to inform members that a consensus Presidential candidate in the person of Sen. Ahmed Lawan has been chosen. Members were not even given the opportunity to comment on the matter.


Similar scenario repeated itself around the negotiation to decide on the candidates of the party for the leadership of the 10th National Assembly. Instead of developing proposed guidelines to guide negotiations within the structures of the party as provided in the APC constitution, Sen. Adamu claimed to be carrying out consultations to the exclusion of members of the NWC and to the exclusion of all structures of the party. But for the steadfastness of President Tinubu, Sen. Adamu would have led the party to a disastrous outcome, which could be probably worse than the rebellious leadership of the 8th National Assembly. Even after the NWC endorsed the proposal from the consultations by Sen. Adamu and representatives of NWC with President Tinubu adopting standard bearers for the two chambers, Sen. Adamu encouraged opposition to the decision of the NWC and didn’t consider convening superior organs to ensure the decisions of the NWC is respected by all elected representatives of the party in the two chambers.


Beyond all these is also a clear case of reckless financial management of the party. With more than N30 billion realised during the sales of forms for the 2023 elections, Sen. Adamu and Sen. Omisore have embarked on spending extravaganza based on their discretionary decisions without any form of budget as required by the APC constitution. With NEC not meeting as required, they give no financial report to anyone, not even to the NWC. Having got the NWC around July 2022 to approve the suspension of Directors, they have proceeded to employ new Directors as well as more staff at the National Secretariat without recourse to the Establishment Committee, which is yet to be formed. All these have increased the running cost of the party without the approval of NEC.


Unlike the vision of establishing a people-oriented progressive party that would facilitate the democratic development of the country, we sadly have in our hand an APC, which is in contempt with its own rules led by a determined and decidedly conservative, reactionary, and undemocratic leadership who are opposed to allowing any form of internal accountability to party organs and members. Consequently, the APC has been reduced to only an election vehicle, like other parties in the country. To the disappointment of many founding members of the party and Nigerians, almost all the undemocratic practices associated with the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) such as imposition of candidates are now common in APC.


Critical issues of party funding, for instance, has remained very ad hoc. No defined funding framework has been established. Although Article 22 of the APC Constitution provides that the Party shall be funded through the following:


  1. Subscription, fees and levies of members;
  2. Proceeds from investments;
  3. Subventions, donations and fund raising;
  4. Gifts and grants by governments, individuals or groups of individuals as allowed by law;
  5. Borrowing as approved by National Executive Committee; and
  6. Any other lawful means.


The only funding so far is fees and levies, which is more limited to cost of nomination forms for party aspiring candidates. Membership subscription, which would have been the main source of funding for the party is yet to be addressed. Unfortunately, even if membership subscription is set and approved by the competent organ of the party, poor membership record and poor organisation of the party at lower levels may become a stumbling block and source of corruption internally within the party. This is partly because, apart from poor membership records, absence of clearly defined financial policy, many zonal, state, local government and ward structures of the party don’t operate any bank account. These structures hardly receive any funding from the National Secretariat.


These are issues, which the Finance Committee of the party would have to immediately address. Addressing this would require a return to developing the needed institutional framework for establishing a computerised membership data base. At the formative stages of APC, in 2013 – 2015, there was an attempt to establish one located at No. 10 Bola Ajibola Street, off Allen Avenue, Ikeja, Lagos, which was attacked by the PDP Federal Government of former President Goodluck Jonathan on November 22, 2014 based on the allegation that the APC is using the data centre to “clone INEC Permanent Voters Card with the intention of hacking into INEC database, corrupting it and replacing them with their own data” (Premium Times, November 23, 2014). Since the attack, work was suspended and even when the APC in 2021 had to organise membership registration and revalidation, the manual unsustainable method was used rather than resuming work on the computerised membership data centre.


Part of the vision of establishing a progressive party was the expectation that caucuses would emerge within the party to engender interest negotiations. This partly encouraged Governors elected on the platform of the party to organise themselves and formed the Progressive Governors Forum with a Secretariat that was mandated to manage programmes that facilitate the development of policy synergy across APC states. Through the PGF, structures were developed that enabled consultations and capacity development initiatives for functionaries of APC state governments. The programmes managed by the PGF Secretariat were also expanded to facilitate relationship between Progressive Governors and the APC controlled Federal Government as well as the National Assembly leadership.


Part of the reality that weaken the initiatives of the PGF is the complete absence of ownership by the party leadership. Apart from the time of Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, there is a complete absence of structured relationship between the NWC and Progressive Governors. During the time of Chief Oyegun, Progressive Governors were meeting with NWC on monthly basis. Through those meetings critical issues and challenges facing the APC as a ruling party were addressed. For instance, the proposal to setup the APC True Federalism Committee led by Mal. Nasir El-Rufai in 2017 came from those consultative meetings between Progressive Governors and the NWC, which was adopted by the APC NEC.


Perhaps, it must also be stressed that the inability of the APC to implement the recommendations of the APC True Federalism Committee can be attributed to the weak structures of the APC. With NEC, NAC and National Caucus not meeting, any expectation of influencing the actions of elected representatives at both the executive and legislative arms will continue to be dashed. Worse still, with a conservative, reactionary, and undemocratic leadership, even if organs of the party meet, they will be manipulated to consider extraneous issues and not substantive reports bordering on the challenges of managing the country.


Returning the APC to its founding vision is immediate and urgent. To get that started the NWC should convene meeting of NEC within the shortest possible time. Already, there are unconfirmed reports that the NWC is proposing a NEC meeting sometime in July 2023. If a NEC meeting is to hold in July 2023, it is important that the agenda of the NEC is made elaborate to ensure that it is not a window dressing NEC. The NWC should be made to present complete reports of all activities of the party since the assumption of office of the current leadership led by Sen. Adamu in line with provisions of Article 13.4(ii) of the APC constitution. And in line with provisions of Article 13.49(iv) of the APC constitution, the NWC present financial report on income and expenditure.


To ensure that the proposed NEC move the party forward and its decisions frees the party from the current ad hoc method of funding the party, the NWC should be made to present a proposed budget covering the operations of the party for at least the next one year. The proposed budget must cover all the operations of the party structures at all levels in line with provisions of Article 13.3(xiv) of the APC constitution. To fund the proposed budget, the NWC should present preliminary proposal to the NEC to mobilise all the funds required to meet all the budget needs in line with provisions of Article 22 (i-vi) of the APC constitution. For emphasis, the budget required should ensure that all the organs of the party should meet as required by the constitution. Therefore, attached to the proposed budget there should be schedule of meetings of all the organs of the party for consideration and approval of NEC. Once such approval is given, there should be no debate again about whether meetings of party organs should be debased to the discretion of the National Chairman or NWC.


The other issue that must be on the agenda of the NEC is proposal for establishment of the five standing committees of Establishment, Finance, Publicity, Intergovernmental and Conflict and Reconciliation Committees. Perhaps, the slightest exception is Conflict and Reconciliation as provided under Article 19.1 of the APC constitution. Similarly, the NWC should be made to present clear proposals for the establishment of the Women’s, Youth and Persons Living with Disabilities wings in line with provisions of Articles 12.19, 12.20 and 12.21 of the APC constitution. Similarly, the agenda of the proposed NEC should include the review of the 2023 elections. This is very fundamental to ensure that all the challenges that the APC, our candidates, and our members faced during the election are identified and needed remedial measures put in place to prevent recurrence.


To do justice to all these issues and ensure that any proposed NEC is not a window dressing NEC, the party should budget at the minimum two days to allow members exhaustively debate all the issues and take all the necessary decisions needed to transform the party to return to the path of emerging as a progressive party in line with its founding vision. Part of the debate at the proposed NEC must also prioritise the need to assess whether decidedly conservative, reactionary, and undemocratic leaders should continue to lead a party envisioned to be progressive. How that debate is managed and the decision that come from it will be a major determinant of whether the Renewed Hope agenda of APC and President Tinubu will have the requisite internal expression within the workings of the APC.


Returning the APC to its founding vision is about developing the structures of the party to competently have all the requisite power and relationship with elected representatives of the party to serve our dear country Nigeria based on the provisions of the party’s manifesto and President Tinubu’s Renewed Hope agenda. As a party, we must wake up and respond positively to the expectations of Nigerians and begin to douse citizens’ frustrations, which is producing so much anger and making our people vulnerable to manipulative antics of political opportunist during electoral contests. This is the minimum, which our agenda of Renewed Hope under the leadership of President Tinubu should ignite and trigger a deeper political reform in the country!

*Salihu Moh. Lukman All Progressives Congress, North-West Zonal Office


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