Alhaji Salihu Lukman, Director General Progressives Governors’ Forum, has charged government appointees, agencies and ministries to create platforms to effectively engage stakeholders.
Lukman gave the charge on Friday in Abuja during the media presentation of his new book, titled: “APC and Progressive Politics in Nigeria.”
He, however, said that while most government appointees were no doubt competent, their engagement strategies remained deeply flawed.
According to him, the growing inaction of some appointees of President Muhammadu Buhari was greatly exposing him to unfair criticisms, especially with regard to the #EndSARS protest.
Lukman noted that the #EndSARS protest was a culmination of years of failed engagements between the people and government appointees.
He said: “Poor engagement of policy demands by groups in the country presented to elected governments through protests is a major problem.
“This requires that as a party privileged to be elected into government, we need to make efforts to change this reality.
“What differentiates democracy from any dictatorship is the capacity to engage citizens and based on such engagements shape public policy.
“Being a progressive party with a progressive government, this should be seamless, actually; it is the ‘Next Level’ we should be working to take Nigerian politics to.”
While appreciating the competence of the country’s political leaders and government appointees, Lukman said there was the need for all to work as a united front to move the country forward.
He said not having the desired synergy and engagement with government appointees had in many ways, contributed to the frustration exhibited by Nigerian youths around the #EndSARS protest.
He said: “Part of the bigger worry is also that appointees of government with the mandate to facilitate seamless engagement, somehow, are not producing the needed democratic responses.
“Again, these are appointees who are no doubt very competent, in the circumstances, the inaction of appointees of government is exposing the president to unfair criticisms.
“We need to also send strong appeals to all appointees of government to rise up to our contemporary democratic challenges, by developing correspondingly strong engagement of stakeholders in their sectors.”
The PGF DG added that this was critical in the management of initiatives around their mandates.
Lukman said it was sad that the #EndSARS protesters could not be assuaged before hoodlums infiltrated the protests.
Lukman also noted that often times, to succeed would require that persons were honest and able to convince the leaders about the limitations of their actions and inactions.
Speaking further on the #EndSARS protest, Lukman said as Nigerians there was need to do everything possible to persuade the youth to understand that the strength of any organisation managing a protest was in its capacity to appropriately direct and control the protest to achieve its demand.
He also noted that most times, the longer the duration of a protest, the higher the potential that it would go out of control.
He said: “I can say, since the mid 1980s, I have been part of protests in Nigeria at leadership level and I am clear that it is always a challenge to sustain protests for long periods.
“It is also equally a challenge to demobilise even when demands are met.
“Part of the frustrations we always had at the end of every protest was having to live with the reality that protests ended without any engagement and leaders of protests become targets of government repression.”
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the #EndSARS protesters were demanding an end to police brutality and reform of the Nigeria Police Force among other things.