Salihu Moh. Lukman
Your Excellency, I find it very compelling to send this open letter to you because there are disturbing signals, which if not averted could produce bigger problems and irreversibly destroy our electoral viability as a party. These are issues bordering on whether as a leader, you will be accessible based on which party members and, by extension, Nigerians can influence your decisions as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Noting that democracy is founded on the principles of representation, it is expected that being an elected President, your decisions should be representative of the interest of Nigerians.
Without attempting to question your authority and commitment to the wellbeing of Nigeria as a nation, within the short period since May 29, 2023 when you assumed office, there are decisions you took, which are very disturbing to many of us who are loyal party members. As loyal party members, we did not only support you to win the 2023 elections, but we have strong belief that your leadership is what our dear country needed at this critical period of our political development.
Perhaps, it is important to highlight that I am making this letter open because having resigned my position as a member of the APC National Working Committee (NWC), I don’t want to make any claim of having access to you in whatever form. Even as NWC member, it was almost impossible to access you after winning the election. Now, given that I resigned because I disagreed with your decision to nominate Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje to emerge as the National Chairman of APC, I don’t expect you to be amenable to meeting a “protestant” like me.
To be honest, making Dr. Ganduje National Chairman of APC is the first disturbing signal. Many party members are yet to recover from that shock. With all the uncleared corruption allegation against Dr. Ganduje, you opted to nominate him to become the National Chairman of the party even when Article 31.5(i) of the constitution of APC clearly gave Nasarawa State Executive Committee the power to nominate who should replace Sen. Abdullahi Adamu. Given that Sen. Umaru Tanko Al-Makura is from Nasarawa State, and he has been very loyal to you, it was scandalous that you will opt for Dr. Ganduje with all the baggage of corruption allegation against him. Recall that before the March 2022 APC National Convention, Sen. Al-Makura aspired to become APC National Chairman and President Buhari was influenced to nominated Sen. Adamu over Sen. Al-Makura partly because he was alleged to be loyal you, it defies every logical reasoning that you will ignore provision of Article 31.5(i) to nominate Dr. Ganduje even when the same provision of the constitution was used to nominate Sen. Basiru Ajibola from Osun State as replacement of Sen. Iyiola Omisore.
The emergence of Dr. Ganduje as National Chairman of APC send the disturbing signal of being weakly committed to fighting corruption. This is very troubling and is neither representative of the interest of APC members, nor is it representative of the wider interest of Nigerians. If our democracy is to develop to the point of being capacitated to resolve our national challenges, the commitment of our leaders to fighting corruption must never be in doubt.
That our leaders in APC accepted the emergence of Dr. Ganduje as APC National Chairman without much resistance produces the second disturbing signal. This is because the absence of resistance was more a reflection of fear, whic is the new reality in APC. Once leaders and members of APC continue to feel threatened that when they express opposition against your decision, we may end up with the bigger danger of creating a police state. This may not arise from any conscious decision coming from you but will be produced from circumstances of having to rationalise or enforce your decisions, which may not be acceptable to party members and citizens. In fact, the first casualties of such reality will be fellow party members.
Largely because of the atmosphere of fear surrounding the emergence of Dr. Ganduje as National Chairman, the wider debate of using the vacancies created to respond to the challenge of inclusivity given that we won the 2023 election with a Muslim-Muslim ticket was lost. Rather than even attempting to respond to that challenge and demonstrate that truly we only invoke the Muslim-Muslim ticket as an electoral strategy, in a very insensitive manner we imposed another Muslim-Muslim scenario in the party with National Chairman and National Secretary both Muslims. And we want to claim we are a progressive party? What is the brand of our progressive politics? Certainly, not the one which Nigerians expect, which endears us to citizens on account of which Nigerians gave us the mandate to manage the affairs of government since 2015.
The third disturbing signal is the quality of your appointees. Sincerely, Your Excellency, throughout the 2023 electoral campaigns, one of the strong campaign points was that you know how to find talents. When it took you more than eight weeks to nominate your Ministers, the belief was that you are taking your time to identify indisputably proficient people. With due respect to all those you nominated, many party members and extension Nigerians were disappointed. It is clear to any discerning mind that political consideration eclipsed any other factor, definitely no argument about talent can be sustained. As it is, both as party members and as Nigerians, our expectation from your government has crashed.
This leads us to the fourth disturbing signal, which is about the management of policy process. When in your inaugural address you declared that petroleum subsidy is gone, it gave many of us the confidence that you have assumed office ready to take all the hard decisions and initiate measures for accelerated national development. Of course, no one expect that process of accelerated development will produce immediate results. But many of us expect that the details of initiatives will be clear and will not be reduced to propaganda. As things are, Nigerians are still waiting to know what the agenda of government is with respect to managing the downstream oil sector beyond saving the amount of money that used to be expended for subsidy payments.
The second issue related to management of policy initiatives is the exchange rate of the Naira. Some of us expect that decisions around exchange rate will be integral part of broader economic policy of government. Now, it would appear that isolated decision has been taken to float the Naira without any clear economic policy. The consequence is that the Naira is on a downward swing. Combined with rising cost of transport as a result of withdrawal of subsidy the inflationary pressure on the economy is very high. As a result, living condition is getting worse. At this rate, poverty incidence will be terribly high, beyond any rational expectations.
Mr. President, you need to urgently address these disturbing signals coming early in your tenure. No one should deceive you into believing that party members and leaders, and by extension Nigerians are not worried with all these disturbing signals. It will be a disservice to your leadership and to our people if we don’t bring these to your attention. You need to act fast to start correcting these disturbing signals before they become defining attributes of your administration and by extension our party. It is either you correct them, or we sign off any prospect of winning any future election.
I am confident that your indisputable commitment to progressive politics will be activated at this early period of your leadership to correct all these disturbing signals. Both as Nigerians and loyal APC members, we believe in your capacity to provide fair leadership. It is our hope that you are still committed to the founding vision of APC, which is progressive politics. And as someone who was in the trenches fighting for democracy in Nigeria, our expectation is that under your leadership, democracy will achieve its representative credentials, based on which the ability of Nigerians to influence your decisions will be high. This is only possible is you take appropriate steps to correct all the disturbing signals arising from decisions taken directly by you. May Allah (SWT) continue to guide you and hopefully through that ensure that it is Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the progressive politician that will rule Nigeria for the next four years! Amin!!!
*Salihu Moh. Lukman, C/o All Progressives Congress , North-West Zonal Office, Kaduna