By John Ali
The All Progressive Congress (APC) has a pressing challenge on its hands that it may not fully appreciate yet. This challenge has nothing to do with the now controversial scheduling of the party’s National Convention nor is it about the contentions on how key national party and elective positions should be zoned. The conundrum is what APC will do with the erstwhile Director General of the Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF), Salihu Moh. Lukman, who was recently disgraced out of office when it emerged that certain governors in the north were using him to undermine the APC.
Going by his latest diatribes, Lukman has apparently spiralled into depression. The only other logical explanation for his outbursts is that he got himself hooked on some cheap cocktail of drugs that is proving destructive to his mental capacity, one that may well cause problems for the APC unless it does something to urgently rehabilitate the former DG of PGF, who now brands himself as a Freelance APC Campaigner, even though such anomalous designation is not known to the party.
His outburst that prompted this response was titled “APC Convention: Mutiny by Yahoo Yahoo Politicians,” which normally should not merit a response owing to its inanities. But from a different perspective, the piece would one day be quoted by the opposition People Democratic Party (PDP) or any other political party that Lukman sells his soul to. It is thus necessary to give context to the issues raised in the referenced piece so that history is not left distorted owing to a failure to answer a fool according to his words.
First, it is totally irresponsible for Lukman to refer to APC leaders as “Yahoo Yahoo Politicians”. He is by extension demarketing the entire party. These are people he rolled with daily before his treachery was discovered and properly addressed. If they are Yahoo Yahoo Politicians as he now calls them then he is himself one by association. He could have resigned his then position upon the constitution of the APC’s Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC), but he stayed on and only discovered that the Committee is mutinous when it refused to do the selfish bidding of some northern governors to whom he is beholden.
Secondly, the premise of Lukman’s tirade was that some governors are working on their agenda to become president, vice-president, or secure ticket for a second term in office. The poser here is: when has it become a crime to aspire to what one is qualified for? Interestingly, the people on whose behalf Lukman is running a fool’s errand have the very same interests. He is inferring that his clients-principals have the right to aspire to these offices while other Nigerians must be criminalized for aspiring even when they are qualified. Contrary to the impression created in his write-up, his clients are the ones desperate to become president or vice-president to the detriment of the party and certainly to the peril of Nigeria.
Furthermore, there is an urgent need for Lukman and his puppet masters to note that the Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF) is not on the same pedestal as the CECPC. APC as a political party is envisaged in the Constitution of Nigeria and CECPC as a committee it legitimately constituted derives from the party’s own constitution, which gives it legitimacy that makes its actions known to law. PGF on the other hand is not known to law; it is at best an interest group that has no means of attaching itself to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, a village association for butchers is likely better anchored in the law than PGF. This makes it perplexing that Lukman has a gripe that PGF is being snubbed by CECPC. The APC committee was not constituted to take orders from PGF, which has by the way exhausted the goodwill people had for it as a non-statutory body that arrogated the roles and took on Supreme Court role to be the final arbiter in its own case.
Equally interesting in the possibility that Lukman might be struggling with multiple personality disorder. Only last week he accused the Chairman of CECPC, Governor Mai Mala Buni of not being approachable and being hostile to interaction. But in his latest piece he accused the same Buni of relating only with “His Excellency Yahaya Bello of Kogi State, His Excellency Hope Uzodinma of Imo State and His Excellency Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State” which implies that Buni is in touch with the north, south-east and south-west. That is quite some geographical spread unless Lukman does not know what he is talking about. It is tragic that the disgraced former DG of PGF decided to rubbish the CECPC as a political Ponzi scheme because the Secretary, Sen. John James Akpanudoedehe, is not at loggerheads with the chairman. This speaks to how he is so traumatized psychologically that he expects the whole world to be in crisis to suit his mood.
Not to be overlooked are the symptoms of hallucination exhibited in Lukman’s tirade. He sees shadows behind every furniture in the room such that he now engages in a toxic mix of conspiracy theory that has hints of a heavy dose of hallucination. In one breath he accused Buni of hobnobbing His Excellency Yahaya Bello of Kogi State, His Excellency Hope Uzodinma of Imo State and His Excellency Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State “based on the plot to retain His Excellency Mai Mala Buni (as substantive APC chairman) and next thing he claimed the quartet are after the same thing? If the four gentlemen are interested in the same position how then can they be friends? If Dapo Abiodun is interested in a second term ticket as claimed, how did he become mixed up in chasing a presidential ticket. It is not an easy task having an insight into the mind of a troubled person.
Lukman went on to describe the running of the party’s affairs as tales by moonlight, which is unfortunate because a man who sees politics as tales by moonlight has no business being even a gate minder at the national headquarters of a political party. Yet this one wants to be the one calling the shot in the very establishment he sees as farce. The delusion that drives Lukman is sever, otherwise when did deferring to the wishes of stakeholders become dishonesty? The distortion of perception disturbing him must have come from the relativity of where Lukman stands – with emperor-governors for whom democracy is a meal ticket. He claimed that some governors are opposed to zoning because they know that their aspirations in the 2023 elections would be over if certain party positions are zoned to their geo-political zones. If any governors are opposed to zoning and they made it known Lukman should have been specific in mentioning name so that one would not conclude that he is hearing voices.
All doubts that this man is dealing with a severe case of emotional dissonance are laid to reast when one considers that he still ludicrously talking of the convention being five days away when stakeholders are resolute on shifting the date to buy time for undoing the damages done by his principals. He was even questioning why the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) must be considered in requesting a date change. INEC’s presence as observer at a political party’s convention is a matter of the law and if the electoral body has other fish to fry by way of a bye-election it must attend to there is nothing anyone can do about that. But the disgraced DG of PGF would rather have it differently as he would prefer to hold a convention that would be invalidated by INEC’s absence, which would be consistent with the objective he has in mind of destroying the APC.
Additionally, it would be interesting to know what standard Lukman applied to arrive at the conclusion that Mai Mala Buni, Yahaya Bello, Hope Uzodinma, Dapo Abiodun, Uzor Kalu and some few others are dishonest people must be punished. His clients, even as fellow state governors as the aforementioned, rate nowhere near these men when integrity is the subject of discourse. It is up to these men to take Lukman to task for impugning their integrity. But he may yet be correct because there has been a mess and APC must punish offenders. It is those that have pitched the party against itself that must be sanctioned and not CECPC – Buni and Akpanudoedehe. The good work that the CECPC team did is what kept the APC from derailing on the scale that the PDP derailed. Lukman should rather explain the destabilisation role he is playing for the PDP and the party being put together by former President Obasanjo and the interface he has maintained for his principals with these two entities.
This is because, there is every need to come out strong against dishonest politicians within the party’s fold. But the first task is unveiling who these dishonest politicians are. A strategy for achieving this is for the APC to move against the hirelings that can lead to the big fish they are running errands for and Lukman is one hireling that has exposed himself. The party should start with him.
In conclusion, Lukman is correct that every genuine APC member and leader must join hands to rescue the party from Lukman and those he represents. His clients, the governors he is running errands for are the real Yahoo Yahoo Plus Politicians who want to continue sucking other people’s sweat and blood. In the interim, PGF should be magnanimous enough to foot the bill for Lukman to have a mental competency test. After all, their decision to sack him as the DG PGF was the trigger for his ongoing psychosis.
Ali is a freelance progressive based in Lagos.