In a statement on Sunday, he said it was important for Chairman of the APC Caretaker/Convention Working Committee and Yobe State Governor, Mai-Mala Buni, to set up a constitution review committee and present proposals for amendments to the Extraordinary National Convention.
He explained that beyond proposals for constitutional amendment, there was an urgent need to consider developing proposed code of conduct for elected and appointed officials of the party as bye-laws to regulate the conduct of party leaders.
The PGF director-general believes the code of conduct is necessary to prevent situations where party officials abuse their office and conduct themselves in manners that can undermine the party’s commitment to the principles of public accountability, or even get stretched to issues bordering on criminal conduct and the probable extension of strategies of political bullying.
According to him, once the APC continues to operate as a closed party, its progressive credentials will remain only a claim of its leaders and anyone who challenges it will be bullied.
Lukman asked the party to consider taking all the appropriate steps to strengthen internal party rules as provided in the APC Constitution.
He, however, stated that his position on the internal crisis within the party does not represent the view of any APC governor or the Progressive Governors’ Forum.
Read the full statement below:
The Future of Progressive Politics in Nigeria
Salihu Moh. Lukman
Progressive Governors Forum
The critical issue of citizens’ participation in politics and how it leads to the difficult task of candidates’ selection is an issue that appears to be the cause of most of the frustrations Nigerians seem to be having with our democracy.
Additionally, it is the cause of virtually all intra and inter party disputes and conflicts in the country. Inability to resolve these issues and put in place functional systems that could regulate internal mechanisms for wider national political contests and ensure that there are some minimum standards of institutional behaviour that could guarantee periodic membership recruitment, which can be calibrated to citizens’ participation in the decision-making process leading to candidate selection during elections are the drawbacks.
These are dynamic challenges, which have been the focus of political inquiry for quite sometimes both in the developed and less developed democracies. Unfortunately, in our context, in Nigeria, these are issues that are at best discussed as subsidiaries to other associated democratic challenges, largely electoral laws.
The reality is that electoral jurisprudence may not even recognise or prioritise the challenges of membership recruitment in a political party, which could result in ambiguities, conferring more powers to individuals and power blocs in a political party.
The consequence will include undermining membership participation and therefore reducing the critical task of candidate selection to some technical internal plebiscite, which may have very little or no democratic value involving only small section of the party membership. This reality creates conflicts, which weakens democratic institutions, including political parties, and retard political development.
Exploring these issues, Paul Webb and Stephen White, in the book Party Politics in New Democracies, argued that analysts could make damning conclusions about parties based on the consideration that ‘democracy is not fully realised until citizens expressed their shared interests as members of the same community.
Participation in the democratic process is vital to the political education of citizens if they are to develop this civic orientation. Contemporary political parties are unlikely to fare well by the civic democratic standards.’ This made them (Webb and White) ask: ‘Does this mean that parties are failing democracy?’
The question of whether parties are failing democracy made Richard Gunther and Larry Diamond, in the book Political Parties and Democracy to come up with the concept of ‘decline of parties’, based on which they submit, ‘in both developed and less developed countries, there is growing evidence that membership in political parties is declining, that parties’ ties with allied secondary associations are loosening or breaking, that their representation of specific social groups is less consistent, and that public opinion toward parties is waning in commitment and trust.
Does this mean, as some have argued, that parties as institutions are declining, that they are ceasing to play a crucial role in modern democracies, and that their functions may be performed as well or better by other kinds of organisations – social movements or interest groups, for example?’
Gunther and Diamond further asked: ‘Are political parties in modern democracies losing their importance, even their relevance, as vehicles for the articulation and aggregation of interests and the waging of election campaigns? Or have we entered an era, more keenly felt in the advanced industrial democracies but increasingly apparent in the less developed ones as well, where technological and social change is transforming the nature of the political party without diminishing its importance for the health and vigour of democracy?’
Both in the case of issues presented by Webb and White with respect to participation, on the one hand, and decline of parties as argued by Gunther and Diamond, on the other hand, they are all very familiar to the Nigerian political environment. It is almost as if the scope for political inquiry that made Gunther and Diamond reach that conclusion is Nigeria.
For instance, the scope for membership participation in our parties since 1999 could appear to be declining. Looking at the Nigerian reality, it will almost be easy to conclude that hardly any of our parties is mass oriented or having a relationship with any organised group. That being the case, to what extend is APC any different or orienting itself differently?
Will being different result in more decline in membership participation or will the APC succeed in opening itself up to ensure increasing recruitment of members and more participation through at least guaranteeing that structures of the party meet as provided in the provisions of the APC constitution?
These are practical issues. If APC is to open itself through membership recruitment, the debate around the issue of whether there is a credible and verifiable membership register will not be taking place. Rather, appropriate steps should have been taken to ensure the existence of a credible and verifiable membership register.
This may be a case of improving on what is already in existence. To improve on what exists may have to involve all structures of the party so that the question of managing the membership register is also not in dispute. For instance, how members are recruited would have a lot of implications in terms of the format that would be used to guarantee participation.
Take, for instance, the argument that the APC membership register is domicile on the Cloud. Who uploads it to the Cloud with whose authority and who is managing it? How was it generated in the first place? Are the members of the APC in the register that is said to exist on the Cloud, financial members? Who did they pay their membership dues to?
Immediately after the merger exercise, which produced the APC, between 2013 and 2015, there were strong internal debates towards establishing computerised membership data centre for the whole country, located at No. 10 Bola Ajibola Street, off Allen Avenue, Ikeja, Lagos.
It could be recalled that on November 22, 2014, the APC membership data centre was reportedly attacked by PDP controlled Federal Government security operatives. Later, the Department of State Security (DSS), which carried the attack claimed that they acted following a petition, which alleged that the APC membership data centre was being set up to clone INEC Permanent Voters Card with the intention of hacking into INEC database, corrupting it and replacing them with APC data.
Part of the internal dynamics that were considered in commencing the establishment of the APC membership data centre included challenges during the conduct of the APC’s Congresses and Convention between April and June 2014. The projections prior to the Congresses were that the process of electing party leadership at all levels of the APC will be expanded beyond the scope of a limited number of party delegates, which should cover all members of the party.
On account of experiences during the conduct of Ward Congresses in April 2014, which exposes the problem of conducting all-members’ inclusive elections for party offices without authenticated membership records, the Chief Bisi Akande Interim Leadership initiated the establishment of the membership data centre.
Since the incident of November 22, 2014, when the DSS attacked the APC membership data centre, hardly anything was heard about the project. Around February/March 2020, the Comrade Oshiomhole-led NWC placed some newspaper advertorials inviting biddings from interested service providers to assist the APC establish computerised membership data register.
Although no reference was made to the previous APC membership data centre of 2014 in the advertorial, the invitation for bidding suggested either non-availability of a computerised membership register or if it is in existence, it is inadequate. Could this have been resolved and a standard register has been uploaded on the Cloud to support the desperation by the Comrade Oshiomhole-led NWC to have organised the primary election for the 2020 Edo State Governorship election through the direct method?
Against the background that the main focus of all political parties in Nigeria is to win elections fairly or unfairly, political practice and culture is the same across all the parties, including the APC as it is constituted today. It is all about recruiting membership based on individual aspirations for political offices.
Across all the parties, once an aspirant has strong financial capability, the party is surrendered to the aspirant. Such an aspirant would then proceed to nominate the party leaders from among his/her loyalists. Accordingly, presidential aspirants nominate party leaders at national levels and gubernatorial candidates nominate party leaders at States, Local Governments and Wards. Candidates for elections are similarly recruited. Presidential candidates recruit gubernatorial candidates and gubernatorial candidates recruit candidates for other lower offices from the ranks of loyalists.
Issues of participation and democracy are compromised, professional management of parties ignored, and disciplinary conduct of members and leaders undermined. The consequence is the preponderances of unethical, unfair and uncivilised practices by party leaders, and public officials. Party offices are reduced to centres of control by aspiring politicians with hardly any focus on services to members.
How is APC responding to these challenges? If anything, the reality is that the last activity of the party that differentiated APC from all the other parties was the December 10, 2014 National Convention that produced President Buhari as the Presidential candidate of the party for the 2015 election.
By every standard, that Convention and the primary election that produced President Buhari as the Presidential candidate for the 2015 election was adjudged to be transparent, fair and democratic even by fellow aspirants who lost the contest – Dr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, Alh. Atiku Abubakar, Owello Rochas Okorocha and Mr. Sam Nda Isiah.
Thereafter, almost all the negative characteristics associated with the PDP and all the other parties became dominant features of APC. Most of the leadership conflict in the party, across all the 36 states bordered on issues of who controls the structures of the party so much that political bullying is now assuming a major feature in the APC.
Anyone who criticises or makes remarks that are not in sync with what leaders want to be propagated, get bullied and at the slightest opportunity, such persons are pushed out of positions they occupy, especially if it is an elective position. With all these, hardly any contest take place. All that keeps emerging is conflict even when we are expected to have elections.
Being a progressive party would require that APC is able to redress this problem, especially given the commitment to ensure that the party is dynamic, action-oriented and ensuring that we are able to bring about improvement in politics, government and the conditions of life of the generality of our people. Why should a progressive party shy away from debating issues affecting the party?
Why should politicians who claimed to be progressives and committed to rendering services to citizens be threatened by fellow party members who only attempted to diagnose the problems of the party? Why should any party leader imagine that anyone who advocates for opening the party up to wider participation by citizens through membership recruitment and ensuring the establishment of credible and verifiable membership register is an agent of imagined political opponent? Why should any politician disparage opposition to political contests? Is politics not all about contestation? How can there be contestation without opposition?
A major gap created by the current orientation of political parties in Nigeria with perverted political behaviour, which confers prerogative of membership recruitment to political leaders is the barrier that is making it almost impossible for parties, including the APC, to serve as vehicles for citizens’ participation. Once APC continues to operate as a closed party, its progressive credentials will remain only a claim of its leaders, and anyone who challenged it will be bullied.
APC can only be progressive if it is able to encourage and promote competition within the party as a prelude to electoral contests. The absence of competition has reduced, predominantly, the business of the party not to focus on issues of managing governments based on the capacity of party members to contribute to initiatives of governments controlled by the party especially with reference to agricultural development, jobs creation, education, health, infrastructural development, poverty eradication, and rapid technological development.
Although Reuven Y. Hazen and Gideon Rahat in the book, Democracy within Parties: Candidate Selection Methods and their Political Consequences, identified that ‘selection of party candidates is basically a private affair, even if there are legal regulations’, the need to open up parties and ensure that members are able to access electoral opportunities remain a primary condition for broadening the space for citizens’ democratic participation.
Hazen and Rahat have elaborately made the point that candidate selection in political parties is ‘predominantly extralegal process by which a political party decides which of the persons legally eligible to hold an elective public office will be designated on the ballot and in election communications as its recommended and supported candidate or list of candidates.’ Being a progressive party, APC would need to take all the appropriate steps required to graduate to a situation whereby members produce leaders and not leaders producing members.
Will this be possible? One of the challenges that APC leaders should be ready to confront as identified by Hazen and Rahat is that ‘recent phenomena of increased judicial involvement in politics is likely to lead to an increase in the adjudication of internal party affairs, including candidate selection. However, such involvement is still largely limited to the question of whether parties have adhered to the rules and regulations they have decided for themselves.’
What are the measures required to compel party members and leaders to comply to internal rules? This is a big challenge especially given that complying with internal rules may result in the loss of control of party structures as a result of which leaders are not able to emerge as candidates.
The risk of losing control of the party structures on account of which leaders are not able to emerge as candidates for elections is the dilemma confronting APC leaders today. Unfortunately, the fear of the consequences of not achieving the objective of emerging as candidates or producing candidates has made the phenomena of political bullying rampant in Nigerian political parties, including APC.
Anybody who is advocating for change in the orientation of how the party recruit members are adjudged to be paid agents and deserve no right to a fair hearing. Partly because those carrying out political bullying are powerful and considered to control powers of appointments in government and selection of candidates, no one wants to risk being accused of opposing their interests.
Consequently, APC is being corrupted by every passing day and therefore becoming more and more closer to PDP and in some cases even worse than PDP. Unlike PDP however, it needs to be recognised that in terms of accommodating dissent within the party, APC is more liberal, largely because President Buhari truly ‘belong to everyone and belong to no one’.
It is only because of the singular factor of President Buhari that groups of elected representatives in both the House of Representatives and the Senate could organise to produce leadership in 2015 against the wishes of the party. While this is certainly unacceptable, it may simply suggest either gap in provisions of internal rules of the APC or complete absence of rules required to regulate the conduct of elected representatives of the party.
Many have criticise the liberal disposition of President Buhari when it comes to the issue of internal party management and present it as the problem of the party. This is wrong and instead, in fact, it is the democratic strength of the APC, which is making it to stand out as the only party in the country with political contests taking place. The major issue is that instead of manifesting as political contests, we are having political conflicts. How can we ensure that what we are having in the APC is political contests and not political conflicts? This is the big task ahead of APC leaders to ensure that the party is truly a progressive party.
It was because of the very singular liberal disposition of President Buhari that made it possible for the struggle against the arbitrary conduct of the Comrade Oshiomhole-led NWC to get to the level of democratically dissolving the NWC and appointing the Mai Mala Buni Caretaker/Convention Working Committee.
But is that enough to guarantee that the APC will be opened up to the wider participation of members? Given that the most important mandate of the Mai Mala Buni Caretaker/Convention Working Committee is to organise a National Convention where new leadership will be elected, what are the steps required, which the Mai Mala Buni Committee should take to ensure that the national leadership of the party that will emerge are not nominees of potential Presidential candidates?
The best way to check whether new leaders are nominees of potential Presidential candidates could be perhaps whether they emerge from electoral contests. How fair was the contest and to what extent could the issue of credible and verifiable membership register support the process of electing the new leadership of APC at the coming national convention?
A very credible process should be recommended to sprout from membership registration/verification. This should mean that immediately following the membership registration/verification, party Congresses at ward, local governments and state levels hold to elect new leadership. This will have the advantage of ensuring that some levels of political negotiations are activated within the party to facilitate the emergence of new leaders.
It is possible that the process may still tilt in favour of some of the emerging power blocs within the party. However, if managed very well, it will be almost impossible for any single power bloc in the party to comfortably dominate the structures of the party across all the 36 states of the country and FCT. This will help to humble all the potential aspirants, especially for the 2023 Presidential election, thereby democratising power in the APC.
Because power is democratised, no one person can monopolised leadership and therefore impose himself/herself as presidential candidate of the APC. As a result, the issue of monopolising membership register such that it is the candidates that produce party members will begin to be minimised. Also, the party can bounce back and become appealing to citizens.
The other associated possibility is that the phenomenon of political bullying could be reduced since the problem of monopolising party membership is being minimised. But this will require that individual member of the party are able to assert themselves and ignore the threats of political bullies. It just means that courageous members are able to rise above the desperation of accessing political offices.
This is a hard call that could be suicidal for many party members. Beyond the courage of individual party members however, the party should consider taking all the appropriate steps to strengthen internal party rules as provided in the constitution of the party. Given all the experiences, so far, it is only logical that the Mai Mala Buni Caretaker/Convention Working Committee is able to setup a constitution review committee and present proposals for amendments to the Extraordinary National Convention.
Beyond proposals for a constitutional amendment, there is an urgent need to consider developing a proposed code of conduct for elected and appointed officials of the party as bylaws to regulate the conduct of party leaders. This is necessary in order to prevent situations whereby officials of the party will not abuse his/her office and conduct himself/herself in manners that could undermine the party’s commitment to the principles of public accountability or even get stretched to issues bordering on criminal conduct and the probable extension of strategies of political bullying to include the deployment of state law enforcement machinery and officials against fellow citizens and party members.
The Mai Mala Buni Caretaker/Convention Working Committee needs to be given every support within the party and by extension patriotic Nigerians sympathetic to the APC to be able to put APC on the part of progressive politics. As it is today, APC is the only party with the potential of promoting progressive politics based on ensuring that the party is able to put in place credible and verifiable membership register as the basis for membership and citizens’ participation.
The management of the membership must be such that it makes it easy for records to be updated and accessed. For the party to guarantee participation, processes of leadership emergence should be transparently democratic involving the wider scope of members. Beyond electing leaders, the internal rules of the party should be strengthened to ensure that all party organs are made functional and the conduct of party leaders, including elected and appointed officials, are regulated to ensure that the project truly progressive conducts and credentials.
In the final analysis, being progressives should mean that APC leaders are taking all the measures required to ensure seamless political contests within the party as a result of which political conflicts are giving way to healthy political contests. This would suggest a reversal in the process of decline of the party. Should this become the new reality, the APC then could begin to transform itself into a mass-oriented party with an expanded membership, developing relationships with organised interest groups.
Are these going to be the issues for debate as we move towards having a national convention to elect new leaders of the APC? Or are we going to submit ourselves as party members to the antics of political bullies whose only mission is to force every party member to silence and allow structures of the party to be manipulated to produce candidates for 2023? Time will tell. The struggle to make APC a progressively democratic party must not be surrendered to forces of reaction acting as political bullies!
This position does not represent the view of any APC Governor or the Progressive Governors Forum.
Youths Confirm #EndSARS Protests Hijacked By Politicians, Anti-Nigeria Forces To Destabilize The Country
Some youth leaders, social media influencers and non-governmental organisations have confirmed that the #EndSARS protests across the country were hijacked by politicians and anti-Nigeria forces to destabilise the nation.
The group, under the auspices of March4Nigeria movement, also vowed to support the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari at a town hall meeting on Saturday in Abuja.
In a communique jointly signed by Olusegun Oloruntoba, Comrade Ibrahim Musa and Sunday Attah, its chairman, secretary and member respectively, the group said it drew its conclusion from participants who experienced significant violence and disruptions during the period.
According to the group, a circuit of internet fraudsters (Yahoo Boys), LGBTQ Community, owners of megachurches, the opposition and some international NGOs financed the protests while renowned clergymen, social media influencers and celebrities incited the populace.
Contrary to reports, however, the youths said the Federal Government was “responsive enough just as it was measured in being accommodating and tolerant of the protesters even in the face of unwarranted provocation of the state and law-abiding Nigerians”.
While urging the FG to initiate additional measures to address the terrorists’ infiltration and hijack of an initially peaceful protest, the group reaffirmed that there was no massacre anywhere in the country.
As part of its resolution, the youth appealed to the FG to actively track the implementation of the reforms agreed while also urging the #EndSARS protesters to halt the mass action.
Read full communique below:
Participants at the meeting recounted that Nigeria experienced significant violence and disruptions in October as a result of protests tagged #EndSARS by protesters. The protests originally began as demands for the dissolution of the Special Anti-Robbery (SARS) unit of the Nigeria Police Force because of the serial cases of highhandedness, brutality and human right abuses by operatives of the unit. In response to a five-point demand from the protesters, which the government agreed to meet, SARS was disbanded with other measures being announced.
They recounted that the #EndSARS was subsequently highjacked by multiple interests that then continued to randomly shift the goalposts by altering the demands while also refusing to name representatives or leaders to dialogue with the government. It was noted that the refusal to name representatives or leaders for the protests was a red flag that should have alerted the Federal Government and the rest of the world to the dark intents of those that orchestrated crisis for Nigeria.
Participants revealed how the protests were well funded across multiple cities such that protesters were being transported to locations in addition to being fed with delicious and expensive meals. Those identified to have at various times financed the protests included: a circuit of internet fraudsters (Yahoo Boys), LGBTQ Community, owners of megachurches, the opposition and some international NGOs. Incitement was done by renowned clergymen, social media influencers, opposition leaders and celebrities. The protesters became belligerent and began obstructing major roads to cause discomfort to Nigerians and sabotage the economy.
It was noted that under yet to be fully comprehended circumstances, pandemonium occasioned by reported gunshots at the Lekki Toll Plaza in Lagos state on October 20, 2020, was used as ground zero for the start of industrial-scale arson, looting and killing of innocent persons. The incident was also used to kick off a major international offensive against the country to force international sanctions.
In the aftermath of the Lekki incident, security personnel have been targeted, attacked and killed in addition to the more than N250 billion in damages while the true economic toll is projected to be in the region of N3 trillion. The protesters continued to insist that Mr President must address them while accusing the government of not being responsive.
It was also found out that the mob was not mindless as previously thought. A fugitive terrorist and leader of the proscribed terrorist group, Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu actively coordinated the attacks on businesses while the leaders of the hit squads reported back to him.
This orgy of arson took place even though the protesters were never able to substantiate their claim of a massacre. After a night of misplaced and misdirected outrage, the nation woke up the following day to not find any corpse even when the protesters had alleged that 78 persons were killed; Lagos state governor Babajide Sanwoolu confirmed there were no casualties from the pandemonium; one of the instigators, Enough is Enough (EiE), recanted its earlier claim that CCTV cameras were sabotaged before the incident as it admitted what was removed from the plaza were plate number cameras that the operator removed for safekeeping upon learning that protesters were going to vandalize the place; the billboard that was turned off as a matter of business decision and not on the directive of the state as protesters had alleged; the entire claim of Lekki Toll Plaza massacre was a hoax choreographed by one Obianuju Catherine Udeh (DJ Switch).
The global outrage was heightened by the deployment of fake news that included sharing of pictures from movies and presenting them as causalities from the protests, publication of pictures of accident causalities and claiming they died in the protests, re-circulation of old media and claiming the incidents portrayed in them happened in the protests. Local and international media have fallen for these fake news items, especially on their online and social media platforms, without having the courtesy to apologize and make corrections when they found out that they misled their audiences. Furthermore, there has been a deliberate blackout on reporting the atrocities of the protesters as they loot and commit arson – where there is any report they are conveniently explained away as hoodlums that infiltrated the protests.
Several nations: The United States, United Kingdom, France, Canada, the European Union and other countries have condemned Nigeria without getting the correct details of what transpired. The United Nations, African Union, International Criminal Court (ICC), Amnesty International and other organizations have similarly erred. US politicians, Joe Bidden, Hilary Clinton, members of US Congress, members of the UK Parliament, foreign celebrities amongst others have made interventions without the benefit of facts. The ignorance on the part of the above-identified was exacerbated by the international media organizations, like the CNN, which threw away journalistic ethics to act as channels for purveying fake news.
President Muhammadu Buhari has addressed the nation as a father. He has demonstrated that the government is saddened by the losses arising from the protests even as he confirmed that the demands of the protesters were already being met before the protests were hijacked by criminals. His speech assured that Nigeria will weather the storm. The many youth initiatives of his administration he revealed deserve to be supported and promoted.
After exhaustive deliberations on the observations made, participants noted that:
The protests were hijacked by hoodlums, which appears to be the original plans of the organizers, who had refused to identify leaders or representatives to dialogue with the government.
The protests were exploited by cyber terrorists, bandits and clout chaser on the internet, who leveraged the anonymity provided by online platforms to incite unsuspecting youth to attack their own country.
The President Muhammadu Buhari led Federal Government was responsive enough just as it was measured in being accommodating and tolerant of the protesters even in the face of unwarranted provocation of the state and law-abiding Nigerians.
There was no massacre anywhere in Nigeria; a massacre would have been there for everyone to see as opposed to the situation where the protesters resorted to revisionism in their desperation to make their claim pass integrity test in the face of lacking evidence.
Federal Government needs to initiate additional measures to address the terrorists’ infiltration and hijack of an initially peaceful protest with a few to identifying and dismantling the IPOB cells that were used to trigger mayhem in Lagos state.
Participants at the #March4Nigeria Town Hall Meeting resolved that:
#March4Nigeria will actively track the implementation of the reforms agreed by the Federal Government and will make suggestions for modifications and expansions as may be necessary with an insistence that there must be timelines and milestones to ensure that the process is not stalled.
All protests relating to #EndSARS are suspended going forward while the youth embrace constructive engagements with the government to give time for the implementation of reforms. To ensure transparency, details of engagements with government will be shared real-time using the advantage of virtual platforms.
#March4Nigeria calls on the international community and all the international media that reported hoaxes about the #EndSARS protests to fact check and publish retractions to their misleading reports.
#March4Nigeria demands that the United States, United Kingdom, France, Canada, the European Union the United Nations, African Union, International Criminal Court (ICC), Amnesty International, Joe Bidden, Hilary Clinton, members of US Congress, members of the UK Parliament and foreign celebrities that had recriminated Nigeria should withdraw their misguided statements and stick to facts in the future.
#March4Nigeria will set up a support system to provide counselling, emotional support and treatment for #EndSARS protesters who may be suffering psychological disconnection from reality and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in the wake of their failed attempt to sabotage Nigeria; DJ Switch will be prioritized for support owing to the tendencies she is exhibiting, which makes it necessary to recommend that she and others like her be placed on suicide watch.
#EndSARS Protests: Patriotic Elders Rally Support For Buhari, Say Nigeria Must Come First Before Other Interests
The Patriotic Elders Council (PEC) have thrown their weight behind President Muhammadu Buhari, noting that the country comes first before other interests.
The group’s backing, contained in a statement signed by Alhaji Ari Gwaska on Friday, follows public reactions that trailed the EndSARS protests across the country.
Recall that some governors had expressed maximum support for President Buhari amidst pressure from Nigerians and the international community.
The Northern States Governors’ Forum called on all Nigerians to resist what they described as enemies of the nation by supporting the president
And according to PEC, the arson, crime and violent dimension that accompanied the mass action is “condemnable, absurd and unacceptable to every sane and sensible Nigerian”.
The group said, ” there is no need to set the country on fire because the interests of a few elites are endangered or in jeopardy”.
The PEC further said elder statesmen such as former President Olusegun Obasanjo cheering the youths towards the path of destruction will face judgement someday.
The patriotic elders noted that youths are the emblem of the strength of any country and a symbol of its heritage.
The group, however, urged them to maintain total loyalty to Nigeria; protect and defend their only country as it is their only worthy asset.
Read the full statement below:
The ugly dimension of the on-going #EndSARS protests in some parts of the country over the unlawful acts of the Nigeria Police unit, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) should disturb every patriotic Nigerian. We acknowledge the intricate abuses and unprofessional conducts of SARS over the years, precipitating the protests.
The Patriotic Elders Council (PEC) also immensely appreciates the endurance of Nigerians, particularly youths who constitute the bulk of our agile population, worse hit by the unlawful acts of Police brutality and extrajudicial killings as signposted by SARS operatives. Nigerians deserve empathy and the anger is justified. We align with President Muhammadu Buhari and the youths that there is every need to address the abnormalities, restructure and reform the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) entirely.
By it, in the last few days, President Buhari has taken active steps in this direction in the wake of the #EndSARS to assuage the protesters and Nigerians in respect to the demands placed before the government. These include the immediate disbandment of SARS, the dismissal and commencement of prosecution of suspected erring SARS operatives and a directive to State Governors to constitute Judicial Panels of Inquiry for aggrieved Nigerians to make submissions of the rights abuses by SARS officials, with a promise to restructure and reform the NPF immediately.
However, despite these measures, the #EndSARS protests have refused to abate and unfortunately have become violent and bloody, especially in some Southern states. The killings, arsons, destructions, breach of the public peace, law and order, the brigandage and carnages have posed a serious threat to national cohesion and security.
The metamorphosis of the #EndSARS protests into areas alien and incompatible with the original reasons instigating the protests signifies a bad omen. It shows some vested political interests are sponsoring and fueling the mayhem in the country for devious reasons to achieve ulterior motives.
Nigeria generally has been volatile in the period preceding the 2019 general elections, and we all know, some non-state actors secretly plotted to inflict heavy violence and bloodshed on Nigerians. But God averted the doomsday and President Buhari acted proactively to maintain public peace, safety and security throughout the conduct of the elections.
We are conscious of the fact that some political actors defeated in the general elections have nursed a permanent grudge against the victors. It is also undeniable that several underground failed plots have been orchestrated by some political undertakers to make Nigeria ungovernable. It is stating the obvious.
Therefore, the transmutation of #EndSARS protests into violence and bloodshed, in apparent abuse of democratic liberties is gleaned from this prism. And the refusal of the protesters to listen to the voice of reason, in preference for killings and destructions of public and private assets of Nigerians have a strong cord to the existing disenchantments by unjustifiably disgruntled elements in the country.
There is no need to set the country on fire because the interests of a few elites are endangered or in jeopardy. The happenings in the country now are condemnable, absurd and unacceptable to every sane and sensible Nigerian. The fire we have ignited in the country and on ourselves cannot be left for government alone to extinguish. It is our collective responsibility to calm frayed nerves, right the perceived wrongs and ensure peace and security returns to our country.
This is not the right time to sit on the fence, make public inflammatory and inciting statements to embolden the protesters, hoodlums, hooligans and criminal elements to cause more harm and destructions. It smacks of beating the drums of war which will do no one any good. At such trying times, people look unto leaders, serving or past for direction and solace.
To this end, we find the public statements credited to former President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and other elder statemen reckless, inciting and wayward. We are particularly piqued at Obasanjo’s irreligious fabrication of lies against President Buhari by accusing it of neglecting the youths, which has led to the agitations. Buhari is a youth-friendly President and there is abundant evidence everywhere in the various subsisting national youth empowerment schemes in the country.
Nothing can be so dishonest as that claim by a former Nigerian leader like Obasanjo. If Nigeria has found itself at the crossroads now because of massive youth unemployment and frustrations, Obasanjo is a major culprit. When he served, the ex-President dubiously sold all public companies, industries and national assets to himself and cronies. He callously squandered Nigeria’s treasures and mortgaged the future. It is uncharitable for the same leader to berate President Buhari who is struggling very hard to re-fix Nigeria and repair the destructions he caused while in office. To now incite protesting youths with such reckless and callous comments is an indication of a mockery of the same compatriots he feigns to speak for their interest. Obasanjo has the reputation of a spoiler and destroyer, but tacitly seeking to bolster youths to compromise national security is very unpatriotic and senseless.
Elder statesmen like Obasanjo and his likes, who are delightfully cheering the youths towards the path of destruction will face God’s judgement someday. And we believe the verdict would be harsh and history can never forgive them.
The incensed elders calling for war should have a rethink. And youths persuaded and goaded into destructive acts against their country and people should remember, they have no other country than Nigeria. PEC makes bold to reiterate that no nation survives a civil war twice. Nigerian youths must rise above the instincts of self-destruction.
PEC calls on protesting youths to sheathe the sword and embrace dialogue at all levels. We are pleading with our children to quit the streets. Youths are the emblem of the strength of any country and a symbol of its heritage.
Therefore, Nigerian youths must maintain total loyalty to Nigeria; protect and defend their only country. It is their only worthy asset. War can never be a substitute for peace or any magnitude of frustration. Those who are out to destroy Nigeria will be put to shame.
CSG, Yoruba Youths Back Arewa Youths on National Unity, Peaceful Co-Existence
The apex Yoruba youth group, Yoruba Council of Youths Worldwide alongside the Coalition of Southern Group (CSG) have expressed support for the proposal by the Arewa Youths Consultative Forum (AYCF) to strengthen the national peaceful dialogue and unity.
In a statement signed Friday in Abuja by the President of Yoruba youths, Aare Oladotun Hassan, said there is need to urgently and collectively address the varying degrees of issues of mutual interests.
“While reiterating the issue of insecurity is most important matter on the table, while we see the hydraheaded challenges of FSARS, with much emphasis for its scrapping in the Southern Nigeria, based on recorded excessive highhandedness, serial extra judicial killings and wanton corruption, we must as well consider its positive vantages too in fighting the dreaded scourge of terrorism, banditry, cultism and other violent crimes in Nigeria.
“Hence, the need for a deliberate call for a National Security Dialogue on State of the nation, for we cannot afford to go back to the locusts days of street armed robbery and violent crimes.
“While withdeep heart of grieve, we commiserate with the families and friends of the heroes and martyrs of the struggle of #LekkiEnsarsMasacre.
“It goes to say that we seek out explanation from the Inspector General of Police, Chief of Army Staff and Chief of Defence Staff to jointly explain who authorized the monumental disaster of of 20-10-2020.
“With deep regret and disappointment, we eqaully condemn the lies of ‘No Casualty of loss of lives” from Governor Babajide Sanwolu of Lagos State, it indeed shows proven lack of empathy and understanding of the magnitudes of the offense against humanity.
“This is crystal clear genocide committed against harmless and peaceful protesters.
“It is high time we workout a best solution approach towards resolving the growing tide of violence and arsons, particularly within Southern regions, hence the need to join our voices with the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) for fundamental demands for police reforms and adequate funding.”
While expressing displeasure over what is described as misguided looting of shops and other ugly activities, the group said: “We are displeased with the invasion and removal of starf of office of Oba of Lagos and burning of the palace of Oba Elemoro in Ibeju Lekki by hoodlums who took advantage of the Endsars protest to wreck monumental havocs and irreparable attacks on our High courts, local government secretariats, police stations and Area ‘J’ Commands, mass destructions of government infrastructures across the country built with tax payers money.
“We therefore take a joint stand with our Northern friends onthe end insecurity campaign, as a matter of necessity, indeed we did all to avert this double jeopardy but yet the inevitable occurred.”
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