Open Letter to APC Leaders: For the Attention of Senator Abdullahi Adamu and Senator Iyiola Omisore
Since the release of All Progressives Congress and Transition Politics on Wednesday, May 31, 2022, I have been accused of violating the agreements we reached at the National Working Committee meeting of May 3, 2023 to the effect that I should stop media campaigns and use internal structures of the party to make my demands.
First, the agreements presuppose that structures of the party would be activated to guarantee internal contestations and debates.
So far, the only structure of the party meeting is the NWC. Even the NWC, since the agreement of May 3, no dedicated meeting was convened to consider all the issues that made it compelling to institute the court case aimed at restoring constitutional order in APC in the first place. As a person, no one, not even the National Chairman or National Secretary being the two presiding officers of the party have deemed it fit to invite me for any form of engagement on the issues I raised, which compelled me to institute the legal action against them and the APC. All I see is return to business-as-usual.
About a week after the agreement to withdraw the court case was reached, another NWC meeting held on May 10, 2023 where the National Chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu presented report of the consultation meeting they had with Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, then President-elect, on zoning of leadership of the 10th National Assembly whereby the NWC was informed of the agreement reached to zone the Senate President to South-South and adopted Senator Godswill Akpabio as the APC’s standard bearer for the position of Senate President and the Deputy Senate President to the North-West with Senator Jibril Barau as the APC candidate. For House of Representatives the Speaker is zoned to North-West with Rt. Hon. Abbas Tajudeen as the candidate, while Deputy Speaker is zoned to South-East with Rt. Hon. Ben Kalu as the candidate.
After exhaustive deliberation at the May 10, 2023 NWC meeting, wherein the National Chairman and the other representatives of the NWC to the consultation meeting with Asiwaju, which included Senator Iyiola Omisore, National Secretary and the two Deputy National Chairmen, Senator Abubakar Kyari and Chief Emma Eneukwu, responded satisfactorily to concerns raised by fellow NWC members and the NWC endorsed the agreements reached with Asiwaju Tinubu. Of course, one of the concerns raised by NWC members was the issue of why the North-West should be given two positions while North-Central did not have any position in the four positions agreed excluded. Explanations were given by both Senator Adamu and all those who were part of the consultations leading to the agreement with Asiwaju Tinubu to the effect that all the issues were considered.
To my mind, I believe the complains by party leaders and members from North-Central about exclusion are legitimate. However, the way to resolve the grievances would have been to put all the leadership positions in the two chambers of the National Assembly as part of the basket of positions being negotiated. This is in the first place what Article 13.4(vi) of the APC constitution directed the NWC to first undertake by developing a proposed electoral guidelines and regulations to guide negotiations within the structures of the APC. In fact, the proposed guidelines and regulations should have guided the consultations with Asiwaju Tinubu on May 5. Rather, the NWC team led by the National Chairman, Sen. Adamu went to the consultation meeting empty handed.
Prior to that time, cash-and-carry contestation by some of the aspirants became the order. And as leaders of the party, we turned blind-eye and just allowed almost everyone to join the race. I raised alarm, appealing to deaf ears, calling on us to take steps to respond to the situation by doing what our constitution directed us to do, which would include convening a National Executive Council meeting to take decision. Recall that our NEC has not met for more than a year. We have managed the party since April 2022 without approved budget as required under Article 13.3A(xiv) of the APC constitution. No report of any kind to any organ, not even the NWC. Yet, Article 13.4(ii) and (iv) require the NWC to submit quarterly reports of activities and finances covering income and expenditure to NEC. Billions of Naira have been expended based on discretionary decisions of the National Chairman and National Secretary. Till date, no member of the NWC can claim to know how much is in all the accounts of the party outside Sen. Adamu and Senator Omisore and perhaps the National Treasurer and National Financial Secretary.
We have had Osun and Ekiti elections, which cost the party billions without any attempt to review experiences, and in the case of Osun, specifically identify reasons why the party lost the election even when we are faced with the embarrassing situation whereby in Osun, not only did we lose the 2022 Governorship election, but we have also been roundly defeated in the 2023 elections. We lost all the three Senatorial seats, lost all the seats for House of Representatives and lost all the House of Assembly seats. And this is the state where the National Secretary, Senator Omisore, come from. And he seats shamelessly, pompously and pretending to command political influence when he cannot win any election. If we are truly aspiring to be a progressive party, leadership must be earned. Senator Omisore must give account of his leadership in Osun State in every respect. Osun is the only state in the country today where the party has no single elected representative. Maybe we has Counsellors, who by this trend would be voted out in the next election.
A party aspiring to be a progressive party must respect its constitution and at the minimum allow all its organs to meet as enshrined in the constitution. It is not about convenient interpretation, which with respect to the NEC, for instance, it is statutorily required to meet quarterly and the National Legal Adviser, Barrister Ahmed El-Marzuq, would brazenly and audaciously seek to manipulate the NWC to imagine that meetings of NEC should be at the discretion of NWC. This is the kind of advice you can only get from any member of the legal profession whose knowledge of the law is so narrow and self-serving, which is most unfortunate.
When I instituted the court case on April 27, 2023, my objective is to challenge this false and dangerous attempt to block structures of the party from meeting, which can only lead to destruction of the APC. I was determined to proceed with the case even in the face of the threat to expel me from the party. Like I highlighted at that time, the NWC had no power to expel me. I am however grateful to my colleagues in the NWC, especially fellow National Vice Chairmen who believed that once I withdraw the case we will be provided with opportunity through meetings of structures of the party, which unfortunate has not happened. As things are, it is my view that Sen. Adamu and Sen. Omisore as National Chairman and National Secretary are the ones who have betrayed the agreements we reached on May 3 and therefore have let all of us in the NWC and in the party down.
For instance, instead of convening meetings of structures of the party after the May 10, 2023 decision of the NWC to conclude internal negotiations to zone all leadership positions in the 10th National Assembly, as NWC members, we were only invited to syndicated meetings to listen to so-called aggrieved aspirants. And in all the meetings, the pronouncements of Sen. Adamu in the presence of media betrays any commitment to defend the decisions of the NWC. Sen. Adamu’s common byline at all the meetings is that in deciding on the zoning, the NWC advise that there should be more consultations. And when Hon. Abbas Tajudeen and his team of supporters from the House of Representatives came to meet the NWC on May 23, 2023, Sen. Adamu was visibly angry when Hon. Tajudeen was referred to as Speaker.
To recommend consultations without providing the needed leadership through activating meetings of organs of the party, is, to say the least, dereliction of responsibility. As leaders of the party, if there should be any form of consultation to promote internal democracy within the party, it should be led by the structures of the party as provided in the party’s constitution. In which case, being leaders of the party – NWC – we should be the convening authority. Senator Adamu, no doubt, is an experienced politician and a very conscious one for that matter. He knows exactly what he is doing by not convening the meetings of organs of the party. By every definition, Sen. Adamu’s politics is conservative and reactionary. Unfortunately, however, based on all the unfolding realities, he is on a reckless conservative and reactionary politician, who, if left unchecked, can pull the party in the direction of committing political suicide. All party leaders and members must wake up to this reality and stop Sen. Adamu from achieving his mission of self destroying the APC.
Both Senator Adamu and Senator Omisore, from all available reports appeared to be animated that I have resumed public advocacy on the need to save the APC and ensure that the structures of the party are given life in line with provisions of the APC constitution. Yes, I have resumed public advocacy because all the structures that should have permitted internal debates are being blocked from meeting. For the records, if you want to resume deliberations to consider expelling me from the party, you are free to do so. I will defend myself publicly to the best of my ability. APC, as a party founded with the vision of being a progressive party, must accommodate debates and contestations. Nobody, no matter how highly placed should imagine that the best way to win debates and contestation is to bully and blackmail opponents. I can guarantee you; no amount of bullying will stop the campaign to return APC to constitutional order.
By the way, you are free to expel me from APC, but you cannot expel me as citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. APC is not a private property. It is a public political organisation with rule, which must be respected. Sen. Adamu and Senator Omisore can block organs of the APC from meeting to the extent that other leaders of the party are willing to permit. No one can block me, in anyway, from discharging my right to engage the issues both as Nigerian and as a member of APC, expelled or not. For your information, I am currently working to document all these experiences, which I will publish, God willing, so that it contribute to the body of knowledge in the development of party politics in Nigeria. Whether you respect my right to hold membership of APC or not, I can proudly say that my publications will remain references for anyone who wish to understudy the APC for the foreseeable future.
Perhaps, let me also indulge the National Chairman, Senator Adamu, by informing him that contrary to his campaign of slander against me, I consider myself a very successful person. Unlike the lies he enjoy telling NWC members that I was sacked in five places, in all the places I worked, I left credible records, and they are all there to be verified. Respect begets respect. I respect Senator Adamu and I will not because of disagreement with his politics slander his person and his reputation. Without doubt, I can confirm to you that I am committed to anything I subscribe to and will always discharge any responsibility given to me that I willfully and willingly accept to discharge. My current position as APC National Vice Chairman North-West is no exception. In discharging my responsibility for that office as provided in the APC constitution, I will do so without fear or favour with the objective of contributing to the development of Nigerian democracy and the APC as a political party registered under the law.
The struggle to return APC to constitutional order is about achieving the founding vision of forming a party that is progressive and encourages internal debates and contestations by allowing all the structures provided in the APC constitution to freely operate. Leaders of APC must be friendly to debates, contestations, engagements and should not lay back to find ways of blocking debates using bullying methods and blackmailing opponents. In the last few years, APC has been so damaged to point of being reduced to a party that is in contempt with its own rules. As a person, I believe that all leaders and members of the party must rise to the challenge of restoring APC to its founding vision and one that is undeniably progressive, and not only in name. The struggle continues!
. Lukman is the National Vice Chairman, North West, of the All Progressives Congress.