There are fresh fears over the future of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) as the Director-General of the Progressive Governors’ Forum, Salihu Lukman, claims the leadership’s indifference to the growing mutual ethnic tension in the country could be the greatest undoing of the party.
Lukman made the observation in a statement he personally signed at the weekend and made available to journalists in Abuja.
Titled, “Nigeria’s Volatile Politics and the APC Report on True Federalism,” Lukman, who noted that ethnic tension was always on the rise ahead of next general election, called on the leadership of the APC and the Presidency to address themselves to it since poor management of ethnic tension could weaken the capacity of government to resolve important governance problems.
The Director-General of the PGF further advised the interim leadership of the APC and the Presidency to latch on the report of the True Federalism Committee led by the Kaduna State governor, Nasir el Rufai.
Sunday Tribune checks revealed that the El Rufai Committee, an initiative of the former national chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, submitted a report with far-reaching recommendations on power devolution to federating states in the country.
Former Ogun State governor, Chief Olusegun Osoba, in a recent Arise TV interview, monitored by Globalgistng, accused certain chieftains of the party of frustrating the implementation of the True Federalism Committee report.
Lukman argued that implementation of the committee’s recommendations would go a long way to placate certain ethnic groups which have consistently accused President Muhammadu Buhari administration of promoting the interest of his Fulani stock and by extension the core North.
He said: “Recommended governance reform initiatives contained in the report of the APC Committee on True Federalism present a big window of opportunity for the nation and APC leaders in particular to develop the capacity to manage our volatile politics laden with ethnic and religious influences.
“To be able to manage our volatile politics, we need to strengthen our governance institutions. Inability to proceed to initiate processes of strengthening governance institutions in the country as contained in the recommendations of APC Committee on True Federalism will continue to subject our leaders to often unfair accusations of ethnicity based on wrong perceptions.
“And if care is not taken, no matter the achievement of our leaders, public recognition of the tenure of our leaders may be dictated by perceptive judgements of poor performance-based largely on bad management of ethnic relations.
“Therefore, all APC leaders have a responsibility now to protect the achievements of APC leaders and governments, especially the Federal Government and President Buhari. APC leaders need to overcome the current lethargic attitude against initiatives for true federalism or restructuring.
“Although, no matter what any political leader is able to concede, there will always be the strong presence of political demands by ethnic groups, it is important to appeal to our leaders to consider the bigger picture, which is about responding to national challenges and strengthening the capacity of governance institutions in the country to serve Nigerians.
“The recommendations contained in the report of the APC True Federalism Committee have the potentiality to strengthen the capacity of government institutions at all levels to respond to most of our security challenges, for instance.
“Most of the recommendations will elicit wide range of disagreements from many groups and interests across the country, a debate to consider them will raise hopes and almost everyone will most likely find something appealing as much as there will be cases of strong objections to some of the recommendations.“It is important to understand that debating the issues doesn’t mean it is a decision for implementation. Debating these issues through our processes of law making as enshrined in our constitution is a fundamental requirement,” he said.
He suggested the setting up of a tripartite committee to be chaired by the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, with the party’s caretaker committee chairman, Governor Mai Mala Buni, Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiala, PGF chairman, Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, Secretary to Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Gida Mustapha and Chief of Staff to President, Professor Ibrahim Agboola Gambari serving as members.
He said the initiative to activate consideration of provisions of the APC Committee on True Federalism could be initiated with such committee, even if it means identifying the less contentious recommendations and commence processes of implementation.
“As a party committed to change, the best way to demonstrate that should be to move the country to the level of active engagement to consider recommended initiatives.
“Ensure that we operate a truly federalist system of government and our democracy is both representative and responsive should be a shared objective of every political leader in the country.
“This is not a task for only President Buhari. As much as being the leader of the party, he has a crucial role. Every leader of the party is also responsible. The advantages of considering the recommendations contained in the report far outweigh all the fears that have held the nation tied to the current volatile politics of ethnic tension.
“May God guide our leaders to lead us in a new direction that can encourage and strengthen them to consider governance reform initiatives that can fortify our institutions and therefore guarantee peaceful co-existence founded on love for each other across all our ethnic and religious divides,” he said.