A chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the director general of the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) Salihu Moh Lukman, has said the leaders of the ruling party were not in denial of challenges confronting the nation unlike reign of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The PGF boss, however, said for APC to counter the negative narrative of the PDP in the public dorman, “members should be able to appeal to the party’s leaders to urgently develop a strong mobilisation campaign that can connect citizens with all the initiatives of government.”
In a statement released to newsmen Tuesday in Abuja, the PGF boss said it will require a robust programme of reorientation in the country to sustain the envisioned change APC and its leadership are working to achieve.
“No need for the familiar debates of PDP vs APC here. The fundamental issue is the question of the extent to which APC leaders and members are responding to challenges. Are we taking responsibility? The good thing is that, in APC, leaders are not in denial of the challenges. This was not the case with PDP before 2015 and up this moment.
“However, being members of the APC, we should be able to acknowledge too that although, the slogan of the APC is CHANGE, which underlines the commitment of the party and its leadership to bring about change in the country, the programmatic details as articulated in the party’s manifesto require a mobilisation programme in order to win the support of Nigerians.
One of the big gaps confronting the APC, which unfortunately makes it easy for opposition politicians to dent the party and its governments’ is the absence of mobilisation programme to engage Nigerians to take responsibility in their different fields of endevours in responding to challenges facing the country.
According to Lukman, getting Nigerians to take responsibility in their different fields of endevours in responding to challenges facing the country is a critical success factor in terms of producing the change envisioned by the APC and its leadership as articulated in the manifesto of the party.
“Inability of Nigerians to take responsibility through initiating appropriate actions raises questions about sustainability of initiatives of government. Beyond questions of sustainability, there is the issue of public awareness and the associated challenges of public support and endorsements. It is not enough for government to initiate programmes and projects as responses to challenges facing the country. Public support and endorsements will be required to make them sustainable, which is not automatic.
“Once the focus and scope of initiatives is limited to operations of government institutions, and non-governmental institutions continue with business-as-usual practices, most of the challenges facing the country will linger. For instance, take the case of insecurity, which is the most important threat to the survival of the country. As much as combative military operations against insurgency in all its manifestations – banditry, kidnappings, abductions, etc. – is fundamental to restoring order and protection of lives and property in the country, equally important is also how Nigerians across all strata of social life are being mobilised to take responsibility in restoring order and guaranteeing security of life and property in every part of the country. How is government working to raise awareness of Nigerians in terms of what to look out for as danger signals in our different communities? What kind of conducts by citizens, including community leaders constitute risk factors and therefore indicative of security challenges? What should be done, where and who to report to? What other initiatives should citizens take?
“One of the major challenges facing Nigeria today is that ‘self-styled saviours’ projecting themselves as leaders campaigning to win ‘a sense of belonging’ based on aggressive ‘nationalism, uncompromising religious sects, or violent urban tribes’ are springing up in every part of the country. This is partly the issue around the Nnamdi Kanu and Sunday Igboho phenomena in the South-East and South-West.
“Unfortunately, because such phenomena are allowed without any counter mobilisational strategy, they are increasingly becoming threats to political leaders. To some extent, they are also becoming models of responses to Nigeria’s challenges by ethnic and religious groups, which is dangerous.”
The APC chieftain believed that beyond the question of insecurity, the broader issue of mobilising Nigerians to develop new orientation require a programmatic national coverage.
“Generally, ‘situations of disorientation’ in the country has created problems whereby the character of Nigerian civil society, including the labour movement has radically change. Most of the organisations that used to be knowledge-driven, based on which they have strong connections with academic institutions, are bereft of knowledgeable viewpoints.”
“As part of such mobilisation campaign, raising public awareness about the initiatives’ government is taking should be a priority. The second thing is also to be able to provide feedback to government about the effectiveness of initiatives taken by APC governments’ so far. To what extent are government initiatives responding to challenges? How are government initiatives’ being able to envision new realities or at least give new insights to old realities? What are the expected roles of citizens in their different fields of endevours to achieve envisioned realities? In particular, how is government mobilisation programme succeeding in securing the buy-in of especially non-governmental leaders to initiate supportive actions to resolve challenges?
“As members of APC, we need to take responsibility and acknowledge that challenges facing the country require a strong mobilisation campaign as a fundamental requirement for bringing about change in the country. This is, at the moment, almost taken for granted.
“In fact, most of the distortions going on today in Nigerian public spaces, which attempts to dismiss the APC and its governments as a failure is largely because of weak or absence of strong mobilisation programme. Being able to acknowledge this reality should be supported with good recommendation on how best to develop strong mobilisation programme to rally the support of Nigerians to address challenges facing the country.
“As members of APC, it should be about responding to the reality facing us and ensure that we appropriately take responsibility. We must engage the issues with all the confidence that our political leaders, especially President Buhari will favourably consider these proposals and strengthen the capacity of the party and its governments to mobilise Nigerians.
The important appeal according to Lukman, is that failure to develop a strong mobilisation programme will continue to create gaps that will make the voices of political opposition louder in the country, even as they don’t have any clear proposed alternatives.
“They will simply continue to promote divisive politics based on mis-information and falsehood. It is painful that with all the initiatives of APC governments, especially Federal Government under President Buhari, the claim of any failure can be made. Unlike all past governments since 1999, APC Federal Government is successfully implementing more initiatives and projects. How can the APC government be successful in implementing almost all the projects past governments have failed to execute be a failure?
“If APC and its governments are being alleged to be a failure, what is the specific alternative being presented by the opposition to APC? The narrative of failure of APC and its governments must be corrected based on a strong mobilisation programme. Nigerians just need to ‘focus on finding solutions and less on wailing or blaming’. Nigerians must be protected from ‘self-styled saviours’ – both politicians and other desperate categories, whose mission can only be self-serving. A stich in time saves nine!”