Seeks Tinubu’s urgent intervention
.Again makes case for S’South, East Senate President
Omeiza Ajayi, Abuja
National Vice Chairman, Northwest, of the ruling All Progressives Congress APC, Salihu Moh. Lukman has accused the National Chairman of the party, Senator Abdullahi Adamu and the National Secretary, Senator Iyiola Omisore of running the National Working Committee NWC like their personal estates without recourse to other executive members.
In what appeared a self-audit of the Adamu-led NWC as it marks its first year in office, Lukman said “it is disappointing that one year since our election into the NWC, we have been running the party based on the old mindset of disregard for allowing organs of the party to guide decisions and appropriately allow for wider input by members and leaders of the party in the decision-making process”.
Noting that “this must change urgently”, Lukman said the President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu cannot afford to assume office with such baggage.
He equally reiterated his earlier position that with a Muslim-Muslim presidency, it has become urgent to ensure that the Senate Presidency is ceded to a Christian from either the South South or South East
He said; “Democracy without accountability means dictatorship. Once the organs of the party are not meeting as enshrined in the constitution of the party, accountability will be absent, and the character of our party will be autocratic and retrogressive.
“Asiwaju Tinubu cannot afford to assume office with the baggage of being a leader of an autocratic and retrogressive APC, which is insensitive to ethnic and religious tension in the country, largely compounded by our inability to regulate the conduct of our Senators-elect and House of Representatives members-elect. Everything must be done to return our party to its founding vision of engendering progressive politics in the country, which is about equitable distribution of power and resources in the country”.
He said the major challenge facing the party since the time of Chief John Odigie-Oyegun-led NWC, which was the predecessor to the Comrade Oshiomhole-led NWC was the problem of making the organs of the party functional.
“Following the electoral victory of 2015, meetings of NEC and National Caucus were frozen for more than a year as opposed to the quarterly meetings stipulated in the party’s constitution. For two years during the tenure of Comrade Oshiomhole, not more than two NEC and National Caucus meetings held. In addition, the Board of Trustees BoT of the party, which was vested with the responsibility of intervening ‘in all disputes and crisis in the party to ensure its stability’ was not inaugurated since the emergence of the party in July 2013.
“The party’s BoT was also given the constitutional responsibility of holding
the properties of the party in trust and ‘act as Arbitrators and Mediators in disputes and ensure the enforcement of discipline in accordance with the Constitution of the Party’.
“The name of the party’s BoT has been changed to National Advisory Council (NAC) and its functions have been substantially reduced to advisory as the name implies at the March 28, 2022, National Convention. Even with that, there is hardly any ongoing discussion to constitute the party’s NAC in the last year. By the provision of Article 13.2B.(i) ‘the National Secretary shall, not later than one month after an elective convention, convene the meeting of the National Advisory Council’. One year after assuming office, the National Secretary has never proposed any action towards the inauguration of NAC.
“So far, there was only one meeting of the party’s NEC on April 8, 2022. There was never any meeting of the National Caucus. Instead, meetings of the NWC are hold without necessarily ensuring that existing constitutional provisions are respected. In this circumstance, critical functions of the NEC, which include approving the national budget of the party as provided in Article 13.3A(xiv) of the Party’s Constitution is simply ignored.
“Further, Article 13.3A(xv) of the party’s constitution directed the NWC to give quarterly financial reports to NEC. Also, Article 13.4(ii) direct the NWC to present reports and Article 13.4(iv) compels the NWC to present financial report on the income and expenditure of the Party. All these have been ignored. Yet, it is public knowledge that the party has earned billions of Naira in revenue from sales of forms to aspiring contestants for the 2023 general elections. We are yet to, as NWC, declare to any organ of the party how much we inherited from His Excellency Mai Mala-led Caretaker Committee and how much was received as donations and contributions for the 2023 elections. Large-scale expenditures, which include the renovation of the National Secretariat complex is being undertaken without any organ of the party exercising the powers of due diligence.
“As a member of the NWC, I can say without fear of contradiction, all decisions bordering on managing the finances of the party are being taken by the National Chairman, Sen. Abdullahi Adamu and the National Secretary, Sen. Iyiola Omisore. Most members of NWC are reduced to onlookers or at best rubber stamps. All appeals for accountability have fallen on deaf ears. The decision of the NWC to convene the NEC meeting in August last year was simply sabotaged”, said Lukman.
He said once the party’s constitution is no longer the guide for managing the affairs of the party, discretionary decisions of leaders take over.
According to him, even what gets paid to party officials and organs becomes acts of benevolence by the National Chairman or anyone he delegates.
“As a result, something as fundamental as the decision on what proportion of the party’s income is paid to States, Local Governments and Wards is exercised solely by the National Chairman and National Secretary. Party staff are hired and fired by the National Chairman and National Secretary without reporting to any organ, including the NWC.
“Given all these, there are embarrassing reports of party members who served in Screening, Primary and Appeals Committees for the 2023 elections yet to be paid their allowances. There was also the case of aspiring contestants for party offices during March 28, 2022, National Convention who voluntarily stepped down in the spirit of facilitating consensus and therefore entitled to refunds of the cost of their nomination forms who are yet to be paid”, he stated.
Lukman noted that with party organs not meeting, it can be predicted that the contest for leadership of the 10th National Assembly will be driven by individual aspirations of aspiring Senators-elect and House of Representative members-elect.
He said; “Given that we already have two Muslims occupying the highest positions of President and Vice President, any attempt to allow another Muslim to aspire for the position of Senate President, who is the number three highest-ranking officer in government will be insensitive, injurious to the unity and peaceful co-existence of the country and damage the electoral viability of our party.
“To avert this, and as a party envisioned to be progressive will require activation of the wider consultative process and negotiations using our constitutional structures, especially the NEC so that decisions taken will be binding on all members, including the aspiring candidates. Being a progressive party specifically requires dynamism, actions, and improvements in how things are managed. Dynamism will require acknowledgement of the realities facing us as a nation and as a party vested with the responsibility of providing leaders for the country for another four years, based on which we can initiate proposals. One of such reality is the existing ethnic and religious tension in the country. Our proposals should seek to improve on previous experiences of leadership formation during the 9th and 10th Assembly.
“As a member of the NWC, I want to publicly register my objection to the seeming inability of our NWC to activate the process of convening meetings of NEC to appropriately take decisions and regulate the emergence of the 10th National Assembly leadership. In particular, I want to restate my position that the leadership profile to emerge for the country on May 29, 2023 is already taking the colouration of the leadership of the country in 1999 with a President from the South-West and a Vice President from the North-East. Unlike in 1999, we have two Muslims as President and Vice President. It is therefore very compelling that the Senate President should come from either the South-South or South-East. And since the North-West produced more votes to give our party the victory in the 2023 Presidential election, the position of Speaker House of Representatives should be zoned to North-West in line with what was obtained in 1999.
“I want to specifically note that two respected Senators-elect from North-West has made public declaration their aspirations for the position of Senate President. These are His Excellency Abdulaziz Yari and Sen. Barau Jibrin. The North-West has been known for its commitment to progressive politics. Our Governors and other party leaders from the zone were unwaveringly progressive during the contest to produce Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the Presidential candidate of our party for the 2023 elections. They were forthright in ensuring that nothing is done to threaten the unity and peaceful co-existence of Nigeria, based on which they stood for a power shift to the Southern part of the country.
“Now that power has shifted to the Southern part of the country, as a region, we equally have the responsibility to regulate the conduct of all our Senators-elect from the North-West, including the two Senators-elect Abdulaziz Yari and Barau Jibrin to withdraw their aspiration for the Senate President. All party leaders from North-West must prevail on these leaders to, in the overall interest of the unity and peaceful coexistence of the country withdraw their aspirations to contest the position of Senate President for the 10th Senate. At the most, they should aspire for the position of Majority Leader of the Senate in line with the 1999 zoning formula in the Senate.
“Given that no meetings of either the NEC or National Caucus are about to convene anytime soon, party leaders at Zonal levels should take initiatives to regulate the conducts of Senators-elect and House of Representatives members-elect in the contests for leadership of the 10th Assembly. President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu should immediately intervene to restore constitutional order in the management of the party affairs. It will be a mockery to continue to bear the name progressive and continue to run affairs of the party based on the personal discretion of the National Chairman and National Secretary”, he added.
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