The Director-General of the Progressives Governors Forum, the association of Governors elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, Salihu Moh. Lukman, has accused the National Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, of being intolerant to criticisms and surrounding himself with sycophants.
The DG levelled the accusation in a memo he forwarded to the Chief Bisi Akande-led APC National Reconciliation Committee.
The memo by Lukman was titled: “Our Leaders should Unite to Rebuild the Party.”
In the memo, Lukman, who has before now also written Oshiomhole and members of the PGF on the excesses of the National Chairman in running the party at least twice, accused him of usurping the responsibilities of the National Working Committee.
He said party members are now confronted with all avoidable electoral tragedies because the NWC abdicated its responsibilities.
He said in the memo: “Perceived weaknesses of the John Odigie-Oyegun-led NWC served as the justification of electing Adams Oshiomhole as replacement for him. Sadly, challenges of internal democracy and fair competitive practices during candidates’ selection processes in the party remained a dream.
“Now, clearly the problems associated with candidates’ selection process has produced what can be regarded as an electoral college. Citizens can vote but our Supreme Court will eventually determine the winner. All as a result of very poor management of candidates’ selection process by our party.
“Unfortunately, our party’s NWC is hardly able to come up with any reassuring response. The crisis in the party is clearly getting worse and worse by the day. It has gotten to a stage whereby the competence of members of the Comrade Oshiomhole-led NWC to provide needed leadership to ensure victory in every election has been eroded.
“We can win election and on account of some inabilities to competently manage legal challenges associated with nomination of candidates, we are compelled to surrender victory to our opponents. This is the narrative of the Supreme Court judgement of February 13, 2020 in respect of November 16, 2019 Bayelsa elections. It was also the case with the May 24, 2019, Supreme Court nullification of the election of all APC candidates in the 2019 elections in Zamfara State.
“In other words, our NWC can be described as a very efficient trojan horse that opens the backdoor for electoral victory to our political opponents. It is really unfortunate that we are faced with all the avoidable electoral tragedies that has befell us, all because our NWC has decided to abdicate its responsibility. This is quite disheartening and certainly beyond any expectation. How can all these be happening under the watch of Comrade Oshiohmole as the National Chairman? Comrade Oshiomhole’s leadership credentials cannot be disputed.
“But given what is going on now in APC under his watch, it is very clear that he is not that same Comrade Oshiomhole that was an inspiring union leader who competently handled all organisational leadership challenges to the admiration of Nigerians.
“Part of the problem now is that he is surrounded by sycophants mainly from Edo State. Any attempt to help him through objective advice is condemned as betrayal especially when such advice come from people who were close to him.
“Many of those who claimed now to be his supporters and loyalists are people who only relate with him based on his position of power and capacity therefore to influence access to political positions. His success as a leader who is able to direct the party towards electoral victory is never their consideration except if they are the candidates.
“One cannot blame these sycophantic crowd around our National Chairman. But I will definitely express my disbelief at the way Comrade Oshiomhole has become all of a sudden, a leader who is intolerant to criticisms. His level of intolerance is so high that any disagreement or criticism expressed against any of his decisions or actions is classified as betrayal and therefore requiring disciplinary actions.
“The procedure for disciplinary actions has become so cheapened such that all the relevant provisions in the party’s constitution are violated. As a result, Comrade Oshiomhole is today the leading accuser, prosecutor and judge in almost all cases where disciplinary actions have been administered in the party. The only probable exception may be the case in his Ward in Edo State where he is also being alleged to have been disciplined.
“With this kind of background, it is almost impossible to start any process of engagement to resolve our problems in the party without addressing the issue of intolerance that is today the main characteristic of the Comrade Oshiomhole-led NWC.
“This is not in any way questioning the capacity or competence of the Akande-led APC National Reconciliation Committee. No doubt, Chief Bisi Akande is one leader who has all that is required to assist the party and all our leaders to resolve current challenges.
“In fact, Akande, having led the party, immediately after the merger negotiations that produced the APC in 2013 has everything at stake if the party is allowed to continue to suffer electoral loses simply because our current leaders are intolerant to one another and consequently not able to manage processes of candidate selection within the party.
“In addition to Akande, the Committee has very refutable members who have played very important roles during the merger negotiations of our legacy parties in 2013. I am very confident that these refutable team of very selfless leaders should be given all the support required to ensure that they succeed.
“How can we support the Akande Committee to succeed? I think the starting point has to be an appeal to the Oshiomhole-led NWC, who facilitated the formation of the Akande Committee to convene a meeting of the appropriate organ of the party – National Executive Council (NEC) or National Caucus where a decision setting aside all the disciplinary actions at all levels of the party, including the NWC can be taken.
“Somehow, such a meeting can also serve as perhaps an icebreaking platform where some good pronouncements can emerge, which can encourage all aggrieved leaders and party members to express their disagreement and dissatisfaction at the way our party is being managed since 2015. Steps must be taken at such meeting to ensure that criticising or disagreeing with our leaders does not constitute an offence.
“If the Akande Committee is to succeed in this very crucial assignment, it must be positioned to set in motion the process of rebuilding the party. The hard truth is that as it stands today, APC is not a functional political party. None of its organs at any level is meeting as provided in the party’s constitution. It is even debatable if our membership register exists. At best, it will be the same old 2015 membership register.
“With such reality, any effort towards resolving our problems may have to commence with verifying the issue of who our party members are. Somehow, this is also an issue that will test our tolerance limits. For instance, to what extent can we accept members such as Kabir Marafa in Zamfara who instituted the court case that led to surrendering the victory of our party in the 2019 election to the PDP? Or to what extent can we regard members in Ogun and Imo who contested the 2019 elections under different parties?
“However it is considered, it is a simple case of responding to all these challenges based on capacity to forgive. The only most important requirement is that each party must be able to accept that mistakes have been made. This is where the Akande Committee will have to demonstrate its capacity and competence. It is a familiar calling to Akande.
“I am confident they can be able to discharge this function by being able to listen to all actors without apportioning blame to any of the actors. Just as they listen to each of the actors, they should be able to first give some minimum conditions which each of the parties must meet.
“There is also the issue of strengthening the confidence of party leaders at all levels based on provision of good working conditions. As it is today, our party leaders at all levels don’t have any verifiable working condition. This is partly the case because, the party’s sources of income are still vaguely defined. Issues of membership subscription are yet to be concluded. These need to be addressed. We can resolve all existing disputes within the party, if these are left as they are today, the same old problem will continue to rear their heads every election season.”