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Stop behaving in mode of repressive leaders, Lukman appeals to leaders

An appeal has been made to Nigerian leaders, especially President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to stop behaving in the mode of repressive ones.

 

The immediate-past National Vice Chairman, Northwest, of the ruling All Progressives Congress APC, Salihu Moh. Lukman, made the appeal in an open letter made available to journalists Friday in Abuja, titled ‘APC and Question of Liability: Open Letter to APC Leaders’.

Lukman harps that being leaders elected on the platform of the APC, as true democrats, they should allow structures of the APC to function based on which members and leaders of the APC can have a say in the policy directions of the government.

According to him, President Bola Tinubu-led APC administration and the party are increasingly becoming very unpopular although, the government is taking some measures, which include the directive to immediately release 42,000 metric tons of assorted grains from the strategic reserves to Nigerians and the decision to setup commodity boards to regulate the prices of food items in the country, the bigger challenge is the issue of guaranteeing local production in the long run.

A number of these issues he said, takes Nigeria back to the whole debate around restructuring, which is about adopting a holistic, not piecemeal, approach to reforming the Nigerian economy.

The immediate-past National Vice Chairman, Northwest, said part of the problem created today, is that instead of coming up with a comprehensive strategy with clear timelines, “we are having isolated knee jerk initiatives”.

“We must appeal to our leaders, especially President Tinubu to stop behaving in the mode of repressive leaders. Being leaders elected on the platform of the APC, as true democrats, they should allow structures of the APC to function based on which members and leaders of the APC can have a say in the policy directions of the government.

“Inability of members to influence actions of the former President Buhari’s government is responsible for whatever could be adjudged as the failure of that government. So long as the government of President Asiwaju Tinubu adopts the old framework of dictating to the party, it has made itself vulnerable to repeat all the mistakes and failings of former President Buhari.

“Given this reality, it is painful to admit that both the APC as a party and the government of President Asiwaju Tinubu are becoming increasingly unpopular with Nigerians. No one should be deceived that given the way we are becoming more and more unpopular; we are faced with the risk of rebellion by ordinary Nigerians.

“The truth is that given the fact that political opposition to APC is weak, and organizations of civil society in the country are also weak, the capacity to provide the needed leadership to the opposition against APC and President Asiwaju Tinubu may be nebulous and desperate, which could become a threat to democracy.

“To avert such danger, it is important that our leaders return to their old mode of acting as visionary politicians and initiate deeply more substantive political reforms in the country to reposition the APC and return it to its founding vision of becoming a progressive political party.

“At the same time, we need a different President Tinubu to show up who is a democrat and, above all, a progressive politician who should have a high level of tolerance when party members and citizens express disagreements with his decisions. We want a President Tinubu who will be open to engagement by party members and Nigerians.

“Once the disposition of President Tinubu is limited to accommodating only views that agree to his decisions, it simply means that all hopes are dashed. Leaders of APC must therefore refrain from acts that can only strengthen the hands of President Asiwaju Tinubu to dash the hopes of Nigerians.

“The least that should happen is that if leaders of the APC have retreated their commitments to making APC a progressive party, they should openly make that declaration. It is my prayer that this is not the case.

“However, as it is often said, the taste of the pudding is in the eating. Will President Tinubu take the needed steps to review the policy directions of his government such that comprehensive policy framework is put in place, which should include the issue of removal of subsidy and exchange rate and not piecemeal strategy?

“Will the government accept to subordinate itself to the party based on which it accepts to work with decisions of the party, or will it continue to relate with party leaders as its appointees? These are issues that will define the kind of legacy President Asiwaju Tinubu want to bequeath to Nigerians”, he added.

Lukman added that no amount of blaming past leaders will save the Tinubu administration from joining the list of bad leaders unless honest political reforms to return APC to its founding vision are undertaken.

On the recent blaming of former President Muhammadu Buhari for being responsible for Nigeria’s current state, Lukman said Senator Adams Oshiomhole, who made the criticism, needs to be reminded of some of the positions he eloquently presented to the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, regarding the issue of the removal of fuel subsidy.

He said it is on record that Comrade Oshiomhole provided the leadership to oppose the withdrawal of subsidy on petroleum products based on the demand that, before it is done, the government must guarantee local production of refined petroleum products.

“We made recommendations that covered short, medium, and long terms, which were contained in submissions we made to the Federal Government when Comrade Oshiomhole was NLC President.

“For instance, as a short-term recommendation, we proposed strategic innovative arrangements with neighbouring countries such as Cote d’Ivoire so that storage facilities in those countries with refining capacities could be hired and NNPC could supply crude, pay all the refining charges, and collect the products for use in our domestic market.

“As medium-term recommendations, issues of refiring and restreaming all Nigerian refineries were proposed. In the long run, allowing private investors to setup refineries were proposed. All these were as far back as 2000.

“At the time President Asiwaju Tinubu took over in May 2023, we were told local refineries will resume local production in December 2023. Good enough, the Dangote refinery had already been commissioned and was being projected to commence supply of refined products to Nigerians in 2024.

“There is clear national consensus that government should remove subsidy. The big challenge is aligning the removal of subsidy to correspond to clear timelines when local production of refined products can be guaranteed. Once this is not done, the problems of arbitrarily increases in the prices of refined petroleum products based on cost of importation will be the reality.

“Compounded by the policy of floating exchange rate of the Naira, it is only natural given our dependence on importation, the value of our currency will be on the decline, which will add to the inflationary pressure on the economy. As things are, these are realities that are producing unbearable circumstances for citizens.

“As a party member, my expectation is that we can work collectively to strengthen the capacity of President Asiwaju Tinubu to initiate measures to arrest the current crash in the economy. It borders on whether we want to take responsibility and decisively initiate sustainable strategy to resolve the challenges permanently”, Lukman added.

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