Don’t hand over APC membership register to any party chieftain, PGF DG warns

By Godwin Amunde

Director General of the Progressive Governors Forum, (PGF) Dr. Salihu Lukman said the current attempt to project some All Progressives Congress, (APC) has debunked media reports suggesting that part of the founding leaders of the party are in disagreement with the leadership of the party on the decision to conduct membership registration and revalidation exercise.

This is coming against the backdrop of the reaction that trailed Chief Bisi Akande’s remarked while revalidating his membership of the party that undertaking the party’s membership registration exercise for the second time in less than a decade is an “indefensible aberration” and that the APC leadership might be wasteful and unappreciative of the proper use of money in a kind of scanty economy in which Nigeria finds itself.

Reacting in a statement made available to news men on Sunday in Abuja, Dr. Lukman noted that after making those strongly worded remarks , Chief Akande revalidated his membership,  but that most media reports were reduced to some negative conclusions suggesting perhaps that part of the foundation leadership of the party, including Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu are in disagreement with the leadership of the party, especially the Caretaker Committee on the decision to conduct the membership registration and revalidation exercise.

Part of the statement reads: “Chief Bisi Akande, the first National Chairman of the All Progressive Congress (APC), on Wednesday, February 3, 2021, while revalidating his membership of the party, was reported to have remarked that ‘a Caretaker Executive Committee for a political party is an abnormality. If not carefully controlled and expeditiously managed, most aberrant authorities end up in contempt and disgrace. For this reason, I want to urge APC Caretaker Executive Committee to resist the temptations of sit-tight syndromes.’ He argued that undertaking the party’s membership registration exercise for the second time in less than a decade is an ‘indefensible aberration’ and the ‘APC leadership might be wasteful and unappreciative of the proper use of money in a kind of scanty economy in which Nigeria finds itself.’

“Notwithstanding that after making those strongly worded remarks, Chief Akande revalidated his membership of the APC, most media reports were reduced to some negative conclusions suggesting perhaps that part of the foundation leadership of the party, including Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu are in disagreement with the leadership of the party, especially the Caretaker Committee on the decision to conduct the membership registration/revalidation exercise. This may have accounted for the prominence also given to the statement by Asiwaju Tinubu, while revalidating his membership of the party, on Saturday, February 6, 2021, endorsing the position of Chief Akande.

“Somehow, there have been many media commentaries highlighting a so-called disagreement among APC leaders on the ongoing registration/revalidation exercise. Most of the commentaries seem to be predicting a brewing crisis in APC because leaders are in disagreement. Is it really true that because leaders are in disagreement, crisis will set in? Is it even possible for leaders of any political party not to disagree? Is there any political party worthy of any potential electoral victory whose leaders are in complete agreement with every position the party approve? If all leaders are in agreement, why do we have internal contests in political parties? Why should we even be interested in internal democracy? 

“As members of APC, we should be proud of our leaders and their ability to make open their positions about all the issues around the challenges facing the party. We should be inspired by their disciplined commitment to support the decisions of the party irrespective of their personal positions. We should be proud of the illustrious leadership of Chief Akande, Asiwaju Tinubu and all our leaders in APC for demonstrating in very strong unequivocal terms that to remain united is not about denying what your personal preferences are with regard to choices open to the party in addressing challenges.

“Being united should be about accepting decisions that are not necessarily supportive of our personal preferences. Since the time of the APC merger negotiations between 2012 and 2013, there has never been any time when all our leaders are in agreement. This is partly why there have always been internal contests within the party. Part of the challenge facing the party today is to ensure that internal contests in the party reflect the freedom of party leaders and members to express themselves within the limits of both the rules of the party and the country.”

The PGF DG said in all the debate leading to the current membership registration/revalidation exercise of the APC, no one has disputed the current membership register of the APC, but advised against handing over the membership register of the party to any chieftain of the party, warning of grave undemocratic consequences.

 “It must be emphasised therefore, in all the debate leading to the current membership registration/revalidation exercise of the APC, no one has disputed the current membership register of the APC. The emphasis has been that it should be updated to delete names of members who have left the party and register new members. In addition, the register should be domiciled in the National Secretariat of the party and not with individual leaders of the party. Having the membership register in the custody of individual leaders especially when such leaders are being speculated to have ambitions for electoral contests is problematic. Keeping the party’s membership register in the custody of individual leaders simply supports the bad orientation of handing over structures of the party to would-be-aspirants, which has been the bane of Nigerian politics under the PDP between 1999 and 2015. Being a party of change, the most important change APC can introduce in Nigerian politics is a shift in the foundational orientation of our politics to one owned and controlled by Nigerians.

“Part of what should be the focus of the debate now around the APC membership registration/revalidation exercise should be about what needs to be done to ensure that the current exercise and the new register of members of the party after the exercise is not in any way or form in disagreement with the old register. Such a disagreement is only possible if some members of the party who are captured in the old register refuse to revalidate their membership and based on the old register still claim to be members. With all leaders of the party, including Chief Akande and Asiwaju Tinubu accepting to revalidate their membership, the message is that every party member should revalidate his/her membership. There is no better evidence today that all APC leaders are united other than the ongoing membership registration/revalidation exercise,” he said. 

“Perhaps, it is important to state that even the fact that the old APC register is in the custody of one of the leaders is a product of democratic decisions within the party in 2014 based on trust. That today, as a party, we are confronted with challenges of access such that membership registration/revalidation is regarded as the solution to the problem, means that there should be more debate and consultations on how to avoid reproducing the problem in different forms.

“The insinuation is that some party leaders opposed to the ambition of the leader currently in custody of the old membership register want to take over the party’s membership register at the end of the registration/revalidation exercise. The need to build confidence and belief among APC leaders and members that this is never the plan can only be achieved through meetings of party organs and consultative ad hoc structures based on honest debates around presentation of problems faced by the party and proposals of what needs to be done to resolve the issues.

“Part of what should be the focus of the debate now around the APC membership registration/revalidation exercise should be about what needs to be done to ensure that the current exercise and the new register of members of the party after the exercise is not in any way or form in disagreement with the old register,” he added.

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