Book Review: Title of Book: APC and Transition Politics: Author: Salihu Moh. Lukman

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Book Review: Title of Book: APC and Transition Politics Author: Salihu Moh. Lukman: Book Reviewer: Senator Surajudeen Ajibola Basiru Ph.D., BL

Transition simply defined is the process or a period from one state or condition to another. Succession on the other hand is defined as the action or process of inheriting a title, office, property etc. In view of the definitions of the term as well as the intrigues narrated in the book it is debatable whether a more apposite title of the book should not be “APC and Succession Politics”.

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The book is a polemical narration of historical and political developments of the APC and its federal government from the Senator Adams Oshiomhole led National Working Committee up to the emergence of the new leadership of the party with the election of Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje and Senator Ajibola Basiru as the National Chairman and National Secretary of the APC. The book is unsparing in his criticisms of action and actors of the events in the book and make insightful comments and recommendation on how the APC can be strengthened and repositioned to be a genuine party of change.

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The book is the fifth publication by the author, which was produced “as part of the effort to broaden the party’s capacity to access intellectual perspectives that would guide” the development of the All Progressives Congress (APC). See page238. The earlier four publications are listed on page 238 of the book under review.

The 238-page book contains Dedication, a foreword, a preface, acknowledgement, appendix which is a copy of letter of resignation of the author from the National Working Committee of the APC dated July 26, 2023, explanatory note on the author’s resignation from the APC on, Prologue, Chapters I to XII on pages 43 to 222. There is also an epilogue on page 223 of the book. The book ends with a short autobiography of the author on page 236 of the book.

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The preface of about 10 pages is certainly not a usual one as its length could also make it a chapter of the book. The preface is more or less a summary of the preoccupation of the book, which is a summary of events and political intrigues from the dissolution of Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee to the setting up of the CCEPC led by the Governor of Yobe State up to the convention that produced Senator Adamu Abdullah led National Working Committee and the triumph of President Bola Tinubu at the National Convention of the party. The author commented on the political exigencies necessitating the choice of Senator Kashim Shettima, a Muslim from the Northeast. According to the author, even though the emergence of two Muslims as standard bearers was contested by some, the choice of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as the PDP standard bearer for the presidential poll, although with a Christian, Mr Ifeanyi Okowa, former Delta State Governor, as Running Mate could be regarded as more offensive to the principles of freedom, equality and justice, and … consolidating the unity of our people as enshrined in the preamble to the 1999 Nigerian Constitution which was what the power shift debate was about. Having emerged as the party’s leader, the author enjoined President Tinubu to provide the needed leadership for the fight against the party’s conservative bloc. The author, however, did not identify who he referred to as the conservative bloc. He further submitted that President Tinubu’s job as the party’s leader is to restore constitutional order in the APC and return the party to its founding vision of emerging as a progressive party.

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Another unusual feature of the book is acknowledgement. Of the 8 pages of acknowledgement starting from page 19, the real acknowledgement did not start until the first paragraph of page 25, running to page 26, which only has content of half the page. The bulk of the “acknowledgement” was devoted to the commentary on the reluctance of the CCEPC to organise a National Convention for the emergence of new leadership of the party, the intrigue around organisation of the 2022 National Convention of the APC as well as explanations of the roles of the author up to his emergence as the National Vice Chairman (North west) of the party and his eventual resignation from the National working Committee of the party over the choice of Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, immediate past Governor of Kano State, as the National Chairman of the party after the resignation of the duo of Senator Abdullahi Adamu and Senator Iyiola Omisore as National Chairman and National Secretary of the APC respectively.

The author submitted that his resignation from the NWC is a personal one, and notwithstanding that, he disagrees with the nomination of Dr Ganduje as the National Chairman, he is still a “loyal party member and strong supporter of President Asiwaju Tinubu and all APC governments at both Federal and State levels. He further affirmed that “all party leaders and Members must accept and support Dr. Ganduje leadership”. See pages 24 to 25.

Curiously, the acknowledgement was followed by an appendix, which is a copy of the resignation of the author from the NwC and a 4-page narration titled “Resignation from the APC: Explanatory Note”, whereby the author offered some explanation for his resignation. In the main, the author asserted that his common explanation was that he was just tired of remaining in the fighting mode campaigning for the reform of the APC. He narrated how he was part of the struggle leading to the exit of Senator Adams Oshiomhole, only to contend with the CECPC under Governor Mai Mala Buni and the administration of Senator Adamu Abdullahi. From his explanation, what finally pushed him to resign was what he considered non-adherence to the agreed constitutional formula with the emergence of Dr Abdullah Ganduje as the National Chairman from the North west. Even though he clarified that he was not questioning President Tinubu’s authority as the party’s moral leader, he asserted that being a moral leader does not give the President the power to change subsisting zoning agreements within the party unilaterally. He nevertheless urged leaders and party members to unite and support Dr Ganduje.

It is germane to note that the author’s letter of resignation was dated July 26, 2023, and the Explanatory Note was dated July 27, 2023. The eventual emergence of Dr Umar Abdullahi Ganduje as the national chairman and Senator Ajibola Basiru was at the National Executive Committee of the party, which was held on 4 August 2023. Contrary to the proposition that the President acted to change subsisting zoning agreements within the party unilaterally, the NEC resolved to change the zoning formula at the August 4 meeting by agreeing to a resolution to zoning the National Chairman to the North West and the National Legal Adviser to the North Central while retaining other positions in the respective zones. It is imperative to state that zoning of positions is a matter of expediency, and the dynamics of politics can always dictate necessary adjustments. It is obvious that the author fired his gun before the game came out!

The prologue is titled APC, and the Challenge of Succession Politics is segmented into five subtopics: the Challenge; Associated Issues of Leadership and Membership Recruitment; Democratised APC and Political Content: Discipline of Party Leaders and Members and Conclusion- inviolability of Succession Planning. The author makes a case for succession planning but that this cannot be a stand-alone initiative. According to him, it may have to be part of “broader initiatives for expanding democratic space for membership mobilisation and participation in party activities and processes of managing governments produced by the party”.

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Chapter I of the book, pages 43 to 63, titled Caretaker and the Surreptitious Campaign, contains narration about the establishment of the Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee CECPC on June 25, 2020, with a six-month mandate within which to organise a National Convention and elect a new leadership of the party. The chapter narrated how the tenure of six months becomes almost indefinite until the National Convention of March 2022. According to the author, the leadership of the CECPC orchestrated and promoted some clandestine campaigns to allow them to organise the National Convention that will produce the party’s Presidential campaign for the 2023 general elections. Under the subtopic 2022 National Convention, the author discussed, on a comparative note, the effort to tackle insecurity under the former PDP administration and the APC under President Buhari.

He contended that the government has successfully strengthened Nigerian security personnel’s capacity across all services to respond to national security challenges in all parts of the country. He made the case for deeper introspection from citizens in tackling security challenges. He submitted that tackling the issue of security challenges, among other national issues, ought to be part of the agenda of the National Convention of the party. Rather, the campaign for postponement of the convention was being propagated using myriads of subterfuge, including raising the issue of needless further consultation. The author contended that the attraction for the campaign for postponement was predicated on the deceptive belief that any candidate who emerged, whether elected or imposed, could win the 2023 elections. The author posited that the electoral prospect for the 2023 elections was severely affected by the refusal to commence the organisation of the February 2022 National Convention. Therefore, internal party mobilisation for the emergence of candidates for the 2023 elections, particularly the Presidential Candidate, was reduced to a personality contest. It was thus the conclusion that personality contests weakened the APC and undermined the capacity of the party to link its 2023 electoral contest with the party’s achievements under former President Buhari. The author passed a damning judgment on the CECPC that it ended up giving itself the new responsibility of being the political and electoral undertaker of the APC.

Chapter II of the book, pages 64 to 87, titled “APC on the Brink”, is devoted to narration and polemical expose on the politics, intrigues and machinations at play ahead of the eventual holding of the 2022 National Convention, which is the preoccupation of chapter III of the book on pages 88 to 98 of the book. The author commenced Chapter II by deprecating acts of blind loyalty. He pointed out that an intolerant leader and a blindly loyal citizen will be vulnerable to making stupid blunders, resulting in dashed expectations. He pointed out that one of the issues that APC needed to change was the situation under the PDP, particularly under the tenure of former President Olusegun Obasanjo when Nigerian democracy was cheapened to the level of autocracy.

According to the author, politics of change should produce elected leaders who should be highly tolerant and accommodate disagreements and criticisms. He, however, claimed that the APC became a captive of a few leaders whose interests are only about imposing themselves as candidates for elections, and this will reduce the APC to another party different from the original conception in 2013.

The author made the case that APC leaders must see party politics beyond being but that “it must be capable of reflecting on the challenges facing citizens to produce proposals to respond to them.

Under the subtopics titled “Caretaker or Undertaker” and “Mutiny”, in enjoining party leaders to tolerate criticisms and disagreements, the author counselled that both “party leaders and elected representatives must not expect ‘anticipatory obedience’ from both party members and Nigerians”. He deprecated the manner of handling of the organisation of the National Convention and submitted rather strongly that “The way the CECPC handled the organisation of the National Convention gave enough ground to suspect internal sabotage”.

According to the author:

“If the Comrade Oshiomhole-led NWC was alleged to be highhanded, intimidating and trampling on the democratic life of the party leaders and members, the CECPC led by His Excellency Mai Mala Buni administered poison, thereby weakening, if not terminated, every democratic practice in the party and attempted every stage for the burial rite of APC as a party. This may sound harsh, but it was the sad reality”. Page 72

He alleged that some named governors were working with the CECPC leadership for their ambition and that the CECPC Secretary, Sen. John James Akpanudoedehe, was also aspiring to emerge as the APC Akwa Ibom Governorship candidate for the 2023 elections. Therefore, the author posited that so much uncertainty created apprehension among party members and leaders that the CECPC was working to ensure that the party was manipulated to meet the aspirations of these leaders. Page 74

There was also narration about how the vote of no confidence of Mai Mala Buni at a meeting presided over by His Excellency Abubakar Sani Bello, Governor of Niger State and the eventual intervention by President Buhari, who facilitated some understanding leading to the withdrawal of the vote of no confidence of His Excellency Mai Mala. Also, the planning and preparation for the March 2022 Convention under Governor Sani Bello was reinforced.

The author also narrated the developments as regards the contending position of the emergence of new leaders of the party through consensus or contest, as well as the issue of Zoning of party position and the way that it appeared that the directives of the former President Buhari were not respected on this matter except as regards the election of Senator Adamu Abdullahi as the National Chairman. He pointed out the activities of those he called “CPC London Lobbyists” and their attempt to influence former President Buhari to anoint Hon Aliyu Adamu as Deputy National Chairman North. He wondered why the anointment of Sen. Adamu as the former President’s choice for the National Chairman in favour of Sen. Umaru Tanko Al-Makura, who is by far the most qualified former CPC leader aspiring for the position of National Chairman.

According to the author, “Often, individual politicians with these self-serving agenda have used their close relationship with former President Buhari to impose themselves on party members as election candidates”.

Chapter III was titled “March 2022 National Convention”. The subtopics under this chapter are: ‘Adoption of Unity List as Basis for Consensus’; and ‘New NWC: New Administration or Business as Usual’. The chapter gave narration of the eventual conduct of the APC National Convention on March 26, 2022, whereby a new leadership for the party was elected, mainly through consensus. As signed by all the twenty-two Progressive Governors, the unity list is set out on pages 90 to 93 of the Book. The author pointed out that in view of adopting the Unity List, part of the terms to convince other aspirants who bought the nomination forms include refunding the fee paid for the nomination forms.

Notwithstanding the Unity List, the election was conducted for the offices of National Vice Chairman (North-East) and National Women Leader. The newly elected leaders were sworn in on Sunday, March 27, 2022, and the 25 National Working Committee list is set out on page 94 of the book.

The setting up and the composition, as well as the report of the Transition Committee, set up by the NWC at its inaugural meeting, are on pages 95 to 98 of the book, but except for the suspension of all the Directors and appointment of new ones, all other issues and recommendations of the Transition Committee were not addressed throughout the tenure of Sen. Abdullahi Adamu. See page 98.

“Leadership Recruitment and Negotiation for 2023” is the topic for Chapter IV. The preoccupation of the author in this chapter is about the processes for the emergence of party candidates for the 2023 general elections. The author expects candidates to emerge from the internal contest and not imposition, most often upon the assumption of loyalty. The author’s position is that; “Leadership recruitment based on assumed loyalty is not a function of commitment to principles or values”. He also made a case for succession planning as “the absence of succession planning negatively impacted governance through policy reversals”. The author pungently contended: “The crucial task before APC leaders during the 2023 internal party primary included whether it could ensure that the leadership selection process produces trustworthy leaders both as party leaders and as candidates for the 2023 elections”. He, therefore concluded that “Nigerian democracy cannot develop unless the right conditions within parties are created for the emergence of trustworthy leaders both as party leaders and candidates for election”.

The book, also in chapter IV, examined the intrigues around an attempt to impose presidential candidates and possibly the scheme of President Tinubu from the internal democratic contest of the party. The writer alleged that some associates “of former President Buhari attempted every manipulative strategy to instigate the imposition of a Presidential candidate” and that many manipulative strategies were deployed for the purpose of imposition of candidates.

The author narrated efforts to bring Mr. Godwin Emefiele, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and former President Goodluck Jonathan to the presidential contest in the APC.

Chapter V is on “Campaign for 2023”. The chapter started by highlighting the opposition’s grand strategy to whitewash former President Buhari’s APC-led federal government as a failure while commending the former Vice-President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo. The author was quick to point out the danger of this. According to the author, “It was simply very damaging to former Vice President Osinbajo for anyone to seek to project him as a good person while former President Buhari and the government he served were bad” page 112 The author made a case for the issue-based campaign which according to him should not be hypothetical because our democracy with more than twenty years is gradually stabilising. He pointed out that the APC put itself in a difficult position of campaigning based on propaganda with the resulting effect of dismissing challenges facing the country and rationalising every action of its government. He further reasoned that how initiatives implemented under the APC compared to the PDP 16-year rule were assessed as part of the campaign for 2023 should have been the issue. He further submitted that “preparations for the 2023 campaigns should have been based on strategic initiatives to win the confidence of Nigerians, which should have made APC leaders proactive in providing information to citizens about the progress being made and the challenges”. Pages 112 to 118.

Under the subtopic “Campaign for Succession”, the author pointed out the implication of the statement made by former President Buhari during the consultative meeting with the Progressive Governors on Tuesday, May 31, 2022, that President Buhari wanted to exercise the privilege of determining who succeeds him as the candidate of the APC for the 2023 Presidential election. However, the author believes that the “temptation for leaders to choose their successors is democratically risky and very costly”. Page 120

Therefore, APC leaders must influence former President Buhari to allow party members to exercise democratic rights to elect the party’s presidential candidate. Page 122

Chapter VI, “Emergence of Presidential Candidate and 2023 Campaign”, has three sections (See pages 123 to 139. One is the “Last Minute Battle against Imposition of Presidential Candidate”, two is “Negotiation for Running Mate”, and three is “Fallacious Politics of the 2023 Presidential Campaign”. The author narrated the attempt, on June 6, 2022, by the immediate past Chairman of the APC, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, to make Senator Ahmad Lawan the consensus presidential candidate of the APC and how this was resisted by most members of the NWC with a press conference addressed by Alh. Suleiman Mohammed Argungu, the National Organising Secretary. After a meeting of the NWC with the Progressive Governors, which was boycotted by Senator Adamu Abdullahi, it was resolved that delegates at the National Convention would elect the Presidential candidate of the party. This decision was later affirmed at the meeting of the NWC and some Progressive Governors with former President Buhari.

The Convention was held on June 7 and 8 at the Eagle Square Abuja. The list of the 23 screened aspirants is on pages 125 to 126 of the book, out of which 9 of the aspirants announced their withdrawal, and therefore, 14 aspirants contested the APC Presidential Aspirants. The names of the 9 aspirants that withdrew from the race and the results of the Presidential primary are on page 126 of the book Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu won with 1 271 votes, with the runner-up, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi getting 316 votes, and the former Vice President getting 235 votes to come third.

On the negotiation for running mates, the author noted that religious and ethnic factors had been used in equal measure to hold Nigerians at a standstill and that it is imperative that the religious and ethnic background of leaders ought to be subordinated to the experiential attributes of persons being considered for leadership. Asiwaju Bola Tinubu eventually settled for Senator Kashim Shettima as his Running Mate.

In the section on fallacious politics of the 2023 Presidential Campaign, the author commented that many so-called Obidient supporters promoted outright falsehood and politics of hate against other candidates and their supporters and that this was “unfortunately self-defeatist”. Page 133. The writer described both Mr. Peter Obi and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as political merchants moving from one party to another for the realisation of personal ambition and that of all the leading presidential candidates, it was only Asiwaju Bola Tinubu who never left his party to any party. Pages 134 to I35.

“Contending Issues for the 2023 Campaigns” is the preoccupation of chapter VII. The author posited that Nigerians became occupied in a game of wit which overlooked the obvious limitations and shortcomings of the chosen candidate and that once electoral contests are reduced to a game of wit, “prospects for democratic development risk being inhibited”. Page 140. The chapter examined the crisis occasioned by introducing and enforcing deliberate cash squeeze as the general election was approaching. It was believed that the policy was introduced and implemented by a cabal opposed to the emergence of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. See pages 146 to 151.

On this the author submitted that: “For APC as a party, and Nigeria, as a nation, one of the lessons that the reality of the cash squeeze policy imposes was the need to develop Nigerian political parties and make them capable of regulating the conduct of elected functionaries”. Page 149.

Chapter VII is on sundry issues around the victory of the APC and matters arising therefrom. The author submitted that foul cries by candidates who lost the election reflect the internal dynamics of party politics in the country and that, in many respects, the Labour Party’s rise to electoral prominence in the 2023 elections was mainly through harvesting the grievances from both the PDP and APC. The writer counselled APC leaders and associates of Asiwaju Tinubu to accept the trust of Nigerians invested in President Tinubu and the party with a high measure of humility and that this requires considerable attention and focus on the development of the APC. He advised President Tinubu to broaden his relationship with all party leaders and mainstream it to nurture the institutional development of party organs. He concluded by stating that an Asiwaju Tinubu- led Federal Government needed to orient itself to avoid the mistakes of former President Buhari’s administration while building on its strength.

In Chapter IX, the author x-rayed the ‘State of APC and Post-Election Challenges.’ He identified several challenges bedeviling the party, prominent among which is the problem of making the party’s organs functional. The failure of the organs at all levels, including the NWC, to operate according to the party’s constitution leaves the party to the whims and caprices of National Chairman. Indeed, he was right in stating that once the “party’s constitution was no longer the guide for managing the party’s affairs, leaders discretionary decisions took over.” He pointedly asserted that this contribute to financial recklessness by the Adamu/Omisore without approval by the NWC, mismanaging the rancour- free emergence of leadership for the National Assembly, and indiscipline (anti- party activities) by party members.

The Challenge of Governance in Nigerian Democracy was the focus of discussion in Chapter X. He situated President Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Agenda within APC’s manifesto of frontally tackling the issue of how to ‘unite to radically reform, modernise and move our nation forward.’ He advocated for engage ment in policy negotiation before announcement and implementation.

This is to avoid rejection by organised labour and the public, which in the past has resulted in policy rejection, and policy somersault. APC as a party, he insisted, must initiate policies and programmes based on the provisions of its manifesto.

Chapters XI and XII addressed the ‘Challenges of Rebuilding the APC’ and ‘APC
and the Way Forward’ respectively, which contained measures to retool the party on the party of progressive politics for Nigeria’s peace, development, and well- being. On this score, he stated:

“Returning the APC to its founding vision is about developing the structures of the party to competently have all the requisite power and relationship with elected representatives of the party to serve our dear country Nigeria based on the provisions of the party’s manifesto and President Tinubu’s Renewed Hope agenda. As a party, the APC must wake up and respond positively to the expectations of Nigerians and begin to douse citizens’ frustrations, producing so much anger and making citizens vulnerable to the manipulative antics of political opportunists during election contests. Page 210.

Furthermore, the 7 recommendations on pages 210-211 will not only ensure good governance but will internalise democracy in the administration of the party based on the dictates of APC’s Constitution and not on personal whims.

The book is written in lucid English. It is highly polemical and provide insight into perspective of the author on national issue like security, relationship of party and government and other social groups. On the final note I concur with following statement of Chief Bisi Akande, CFR when he concluded in the foreword to the book:

“…permit me the privilege of recommending this book to the reading public. It would make an interesting reading as a literature in political history and as part of the means of achieving our aspirations in party-building. And if our aim is to build the party of our dreams through constructive debates and discussions, such efforts as this must be encouraged in all spheres of party affairs.”

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