Salihu Moh. Lukman
Following the confirmation of 45 out of the 48 Ministerial nominees by the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on Monday, August 7, 2023, transition from the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari to the new era of President Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has been completed. The newly confirmed ministers will be sworn in and will be expected to manage the business of government and spearhead initiatives aimed at delivering on campaign promises in line with provisions of the APC manifesto and President Asiwaju Tinubu’s Action Plan for a Better Nigeria – Renewed Hope 2023.
The big question is whether APC, as a party has grown such that elected and appointed leaders produced by the party are faithful to the commitment to serve Nigerians. Are elected and appointed representatives going to demonstrate knowledge in terms of discharging their responsibilities? How deep is their knowledge and does it come with recommended solutions to the numerous challenges facing the country? Do they (elected and appointed representatives) even have the confidence to apply the recommended solutions?
Most times, these are issues that are assumed defending on who is considering them. Without belabouring the issues, both as party members and as Nigerians, we need to be creative in engaging these issues with the firm belief and confidence that the young government of President Asiwaju Tinubu will succeed in resolving most of Nigeria’s challenges. As a democratically elected government, it is our hope that President Asiwaju Tinubu’s government will be responsive and will broaden the scope of citizens’ engagement at all levels and therefore accordingly produce processes of wider participation of organised groups in the business of policy design and implementation in the country.
Given that democracy is founded on the logic that political parties should have manifestos, which should highlight ideological orientations and commitments of leaders and members, will APC under the leadership of President Asiwaju Tinubu begin to move closer to its founding vision of emerging as a progressive party with the capacity to regulate the conduct of elected and appointed representatives? Or will the vision of being a progressive party remained only in the name of the party? To what extent, for instance, will elected and appointed representatives produced by the APC, at all levels, initiate policies and programmes based on provisions of the manifesto? How many elected and appointed representatives actually gone through the party manifesto and the Action Plan for a Better Nigeria – Renewd Hope 2023? How many of them are actually able to develop perspectives, which will highlight policy choices in line with provisions of the APC’s campaign promises?
Inability to answer these questions positively will suggest the strong likelihood of President Asiwaju Tinubu’s government collapsing to business-as-usual mode not long after it assumed office and with that reducing the business of managing government to propaganda aimed at mobilising support for 2027 re-election. Once that is the case, every member and leader of the APC will be compelled to only demonstrate agreement with decisions taken by the government and especially by President Asiwaju Tinubu. Once that is the case, sycophancy will take over and a new transition mode for 2027 will commence even before the young government of Asiwaju Tinubu settles down.
What is it that can be done to ensure that truly President Asiwaju Tinubu’s led APC federal government succeed in emerging as a strongly responsive and representative government? For APC to emerge as a truly progressive party beyond bearing the name, President Asiwaju Tinubu’s government must be dynamc, action oriented and therefore competently able to improve on the quality of lives of Nigerians. What this requires at these early stages in the life of the administration is that the government must be able to set clearly define targets, which must be achieved within the next four years. For instance, the government should define annual targets for all sectors and each mandate ministry led by the newly confirmed ministers should be given the responsibility to achieve.
Setting those targets and orienting all the newly elected and appointed APC representatives to apply themselves towards meeting them should not be taken for granted. In fact, once Ministers are sworn in and no ministerial targets is given to them by the President, the seed of failure would have been planted. Therefore, the first task before President Asiwaju Tinubu is ensuring that ministerial targets are given and putting in place stronger supervisory and regulatory framework both within government and as a party to ensure delivery.
Again, both as party members and as Nigerians, we should support President Asiwaju Tinubu to succeed in bringing APC back to its founding vision of emerging as a truly progressive party capable of regulating the conducts of all elected and appointed APC representatives to be accountable to Nigerian citizens. Supporting President Asiwaju Tinubu should include being able to disagree with him when he takes any decision that is unjust to any section of the country. Both APC members and leaders, as well as Nigerians must be courageous in reminding President Asiwaju Tinubu that any claim of being progressive must guarantee social justice and equity, especially regarding distribution of resources and opportunities in all manifestations.
All the challenges that confronted APC and the federal government since 2019 borders on the strong perception by many sections of Nigerians of unfair and inequitable treatment. Contentious as it may appear, being a democracy and especially as a party envisioned to be progressive, we must demonstrate sensitiveness and responsiveness to these perceptions. We therefore must appeal to President Asiwaju Tinubu to demonstrate balanced commitment to providing truly progressive leadership to both the APC and the Nigerian nation as whole.
Providing progressive leadership to the APC will require President Asiwaju Tinubu to honestly resolve within himself whether under his leadership he want to resolve the big political problem in the country whereby all our parties are reduced to only serving as an election platform. In 2012/2013, when under our old legacies parties, merger negotiations commenced, the expectation of many Nigerians was that the new party, APC, that emerged will depart from serving only as election platform. Especially, with the adoption of slogan “CHANGE”, expectation was high in the country that APC will distinguish itself as a democratic party and produce new model of party politics in the country.
We must as a party admit that between 2015 and now, APC has moved further away from meeting these expectations. Internal contest within the APC has been weakened. Efforts to resolve this problem especially since 2019 has created leadership instability within the APC. All the efforts to resolve the problems of the party end up further worsening the challenges. For instance, the decision to setup a Caretaker Committee under the leadership of Governor Mai Mala Buni on June 25, 2020 with a short tenure of six months produced a monstrous outcome of a sit-tight Caretaker Committee, which had to be forced out of office after 27 months.
Similarly, the emergence of Sen. Abdullahi Adamu led NWC in March 2022 was expected to have resolved the leadership challenges facing the party. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case as the APC was plunged into deeper problems whereby all the statutory organs of the party became frozen and the NWC especially the National Chairman and National Secretary became emperors and highly unaccountable to anyone. In addition, the leadership of Sen. Adamu became subversive and covertly antagonistic against Asiwaju Tinubu both during the internal contest to produce the Presidential candidate of the APC for the 2023 general elections and after Asiwaju Tinubu won the election and became the President-elect. For instance, instead of working in harmony with Asiwaju Tinubu as President-elect to nominate candidates for the leadership of the 10th National Assembly, Sen. Adamu opposed and undermined initiatives of Asiwaju Tinubu to produce the current leadership of both the Senate and House of Representatives.
No doubt, these are bitter experiences within the APC that must be corrected. In correcting them however, are we focusing on the bigger question of restoring constitutional order, returning the party to its founding vision, and ensuring the development of the APC to be capable of regulating the conducts of elected and appointed representatives? Or is the objective reduced to question of producing simply loyal leaders who will only ensure successful implementation of what President Asiwaju Tinubu want as a leader of the party?
In other words, what should APC members and Nigerians expect from the current attempts being made to re-organise the APC under the leadership of Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje? Without any attempt to pre-empt the leadership of Dr. Ganduje, it is important to highlight that both Dr. Ganduje and President Asiwaju Tinubu cannot afford to fail. They must do everything possible to succeed in restoring constitutional order, returning APC to its founding vision of becoming a truly progressive party, based on which all elected and appointed representatives led by President Asiwaju Tinubu are both responsive to Nigeria’s challenges and representative of the wider interests of Nigerians.
Being responsive to Nigerians is a function of knowledge and competence in managing affairs of government. Being representative is about ability to engage Nigerians and through those engagements being able to accommodate proposals and mainstream them into policies of government at all levels. Will this be the renewed hope Nigerians will expect? Coming days, weeks, and months ahead in the next four years will determine the colouration of President Asiwaju Tinubu’s government. As APC members and highly optimistic Nigerians, we must look forward with confidence that President Asiwaju Tinubu’s government will succeed in producing a progressive government supported by a re-organised APC that is truly progressive both in name and indeed, which operate strictly based on its rules and all the laws regulating the conducts of political parties.
Emerging as a truly progressive party, APC must unambiguously guarantee social justice and equitable distribution of resources and opportunity both within the party and as a party in control of governments at all levels in the country. Achieving this is what will translate into Renewed Hope for a Better Nigeria.
*Salihu Moh. Lukman C/o All Progressives Congress North-West Zonal Office, Kaduna