Why Tinubu should recover his democratic credentials, reactivate progressive politics – Lukman

Immidiate-past National Vice Chairman, North-west of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) Salihu Moh. Lukman, has expressed reservations on some policies and programmes of President Bola Tinubu-led administration, saying the government lacks inclusiveness.

Mallam Lukman said the main issue worrying Nigerians, and particularly APC members, in addition to whether citizens will survive the current hardship being experienced, is also to understand what the details of government initiatives covers to get Nigerians out of the hardship. 

In a statement Saturday in Abuja, titled ‘Beyond Taking Responsibility’, the APC chieftain said from the time of former President Buhari to the current era of President Asiwaju Tinubu, issues of inclusivity are in reverse gear. 

According to him, rather than engaging Nigerians and getting them to own policies of government, supposedly progressive governments talked down on Nigerians and like dictators almost tell citizens to take as given every decision taken, even when faced with grave consequences, threatening survival as is presently being experienced. 

“With a manifesto that was the product of robust internal consultations during the merger negotiations that produced the APC in 2013, the expectation was that, starting from the government of former President Buhari, through strong engagements of diverse interest groups in the country, the APC will begin to translate the party’s manifesto and all campaign promises into clearly defined policy decisions.”

Commenting on the decision to implement the Oronsaye reports, Lukman said the emphasis is more about trimming the size of the civil service based on the old neoliberal agenda of World Bank and IMF. 

“The approach, from the way it is being introduced is almost exactly the way previous administrations, especially military governments have initiated public service reforms in the country. 

“Issues of engaging stakeholders aimed at guaranteeing inclusivity in policy implementation would appear to be taken for granted. Even the committee setup excludes critical stakeholders, which means stakeholders can only react to challenges of implementation with hardly any potential to influence or minimise possible negative consequences.

“Arguably, with respect to all these issues, it is as if government first announce decisions before beginning to think in terms of what needs to be done to manage the consequences that followed. In which case, rather than acting as a progressive government that is dynamic, action oriented towards improving the welfare conditions of citizens, President Asiwaju Tinubu’s administration is behaving more like a reactionary government. Given such reality, it is almost impossible to predict what the goal or vision of the government is. 

“This was clearly the same problem we had with former President Muhammadu Buhari’s government. The incomprehensible reality is that both former President Buhari’s and current President Asiwaju Tinubu’s governments are APC governments, which got elected based on the promise of changing Nigeria. 

“Part of the change that is expected is having a government that guarantees and accommodates inclusivilty, based on which the outcry of citizens is factored and utilised to guide design and implementation of government policy.”

According to Lukman, coming with a well-defined action plan – Renewed Hope 2023 – which clearly further outlined thoughtout roadmap consistent with provisions of the APC manifesto, many expected the government of President Asiwaju Tinubu to come articulated policy plan, which was lacking during the tenure of former President Buhari. 

“Had the government of President Asiwaju Tinubu come with an articulated policy plan oriented to implement both the APC manifesto and Renewed Hope 2023, the government may have saved itself the problem of limiting itself to only reacting to challenges produced by its policies. Instead, it would have been strengthened to at the minimum simulate engagements with Nigerians across diverse interests to negotiate expeditious implementation and perhaps fasttrack getting to the end of the ‘tunnel’ and produce the expected ‘light’ that should shine on Nigerians to herald the better nation, which is being promised.

“Unfortunately, the most unexpected manifestation of lack of inclusivity in democracy is what appears to be a conscious demobilisation of the APC as a political party. From a situation whereby the challenge was to enforce the activation of party structures as provided in the constitution of the APC, through which party members and leaders could have a say in the process of managing governments produced by the APC, the government of President Asiwaju Tinubu has succeeded in completely insulating itself from basically all structures of the party. 

“Few party leaders have access to him, which except for the National Chairman and may be National Secretary, other members of the National Working Committee (NWC) could at best be having distant or shadowy access to the President and other government functionaries. 

“Perhaps, unlike during the tenure of former President Buhari when National Chairman meet the President periodically together with other members of the NWC, at least up to June 2020 during the tenure of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the current reality is that only the National Chairman meets the President.”

The APC chieftain said the consequence the current development is that the ruling party has elected self-centred Presidents who hardly see the value of other party members. 

“From the time of former President Buhari to today’s President Asiwaju Tunubu era, the orientation of government and party politics is that President is omnipotent, who no one can question. This has continued in a worse form under President Asiwaju Tinubu largely because at least under former President Buhari, he never invokes his omnipotent status to nullify subsisting agreement within the party. 

“Interestingly, President Asiwaju Tinubu who is expected to be more democratic and progressive as well, one of the first exercise of his omnipotent leadership is to nullify zoning agreement within the party by moving the position of National Chairman out of North-Central to North-West with hardly any consultation with party leaders in both the two zones.

“Betraying any commitment for justice in terms of distribution of positions to the zones, the new configuration of distribution of political offices in the country favours the North-West with Kano State alone occupying two major positions of National Chairman of APC and Deputy Senate President. The North-Central completely excluded from any political position. How can a party envisioned to be progressive produced such a backward unjust reality? Given the combined reality APC has produced, from the time of former President Buhari to President Asiwaju Tinubu, it is difficult to justify all the promises made to Nigerians producing all the electoral victories since 2015. What is responsible for all these?

“Some of the explanations being canvassed by especially many disappointed APC members is that both former President Buhari and President Asiwaju Tinubu just wanted to win election and become Presidents of Nigeria. Once they achieved that, any other thing with respect to good government and policy orientation is hardly a priority. Impliedly, this means that the whole merger exercise producing the APC was a deception. Rightly or wrongly, many APC leaders and members have come to accept this explanation as the main objective for the merger. 

“Sadly, the current economic hardship arising from impulsive decisions of the Asiwaju Tinubu government without an articulated policy plan is strengthening the belief that the commitments of both former President Buhari and President Asiwaju is not more than becoming Presidents, which they have achieved.

“With APC now increasingly becoming a closed shop with virtually all its organs demobilised and the omnipotent status of the President strengthened, what is the future of the APC? Being an envisioned progressive party but end up producing progressive governments in reverse gear, what is the implication? Is it a question of leaders becoming indifferent to the electoral fortunes of the party? Does the fact of being indifferent to the electoral fortune of the party also mean being unconcerned about the future of democracy in Nigeria?”

Lukman, however, hoped that that President Tinubu will recover his democratic credentials and reactivate his progressive politics before it is too late.