Why APC removed Adamu, Omisore — Salihu Lukman

Salihu Lukman

• Says ‘Joint accounts with states create major problem in LG administration’

Why the ruling party threw out Senator Abdullahi Adamu and Senator Iyiola Omisore as the party’s national chairman and secretary, respectively in July 2023 has been disclosed by former Vice Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Salihu Lukman.

According to him, Lukman said the party took that decision because the organs and structures of the ruling APC weren’t functional as they ought to be under the leadership of Adamu and Omisore, with a special reference to the fact that the National Advisory Council of the party has not been inaugurated since 2013.

Lukman, also a former Director General of the Progressives Governors’ Forum, made the disclosure during his appearance on a popular TV show, Inside Sources with Laolu Akande aired on Channels Television on Friday, July 19, 2024.

He, however, urged President Bola Tinubu as the party leader to ensure the organs and structures work optimally as they should, adding, “The fundamental issue which is what I expect from President Asiwaju is to ensure that the structures of our party are functional.

“My frustration after we fought to really get Abdullahi Adamu and Senator Iyiola Omisore out of the leadership of the party, it is not about getting them out; it’s taking the right steps to ensure that these structures function so that anybody who comes should be able to work based on the constitution of the party.”

According to the APC chieftain, once the party is not able to do that, we will continue to have all the problems we have today in the country.

He said, “My advocate is now more in terms of what we need to do as a nation to reform our political parties. I keep taking us back to the Uwais Committee report which recommended unbundling INEC and one of the structures to emerge from the unbundled INEC should be the Political Party Regulatory Commission because right now, none of our parties is functioning, APC inclusive, because our structures, the National Executive Committee, the last time we met was in August, we are supposed to be meeting every quarter.

“National Advisory Council which is like the Board of Trustees has not been inaugurated since 2013. Not even one meeting of the National Advisory Council. National Caucus can meet even every week, that should actually be the structure that should be advisory but it doesn’t meet.

“We have formed structures like women wing, youth wing, they are supposed to have their constitution but till today, nothing has been done,” he said.

In March 2022, Adamu emerged as APC national chairman about two years after the dissolution of the Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee (NWC) was dissolved.

Adamu, who was governor of Nasarawa State from May 1999 to May 2007. Also represented Nasarawa West Senatorial District in the National Assembly between May 2011 and April 2022.

In the buildup to the APC presidential primary in June 2022, Adamu announced then Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, as the party’s consensus candidate but the announcement was strongly rejected by a league of northern governors who preferred former Lagos State governor, Bola Tinubu.

Tinubu eventually emerged as the party’s flag bearer after he trounced Lawan, then Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, ex-Transport Minister, Rotimi Amaechi; and other powerbrokers within the APC. The ex-Lagos governor would subsequently win the February 25, 2023 presidential poll.

Two months after Tinubu was sworn in as Nigeria’s President, Adamu and Omisore faced a string of crises which forced them out of the ruling party.

Commenting on how the APC has fared thus far, Lukman said, “We had to fight to get Asiwaju to win the ticket. Now, having won the ticket, it shouldn’t be business as usual.

“For instance, if under former President Buhari, the true federalism report by the Committee led by Malam Nasir El-Rufai, I am a member of that Committee. It was honest work that was done, not even to discuss the opinions of leaders; it was to go out there and find out what people think and put them on the weight and let them begin to think in terms of the options and we put the options on the table including draft legislative bills.”

On why the report was not implemented, he said, “I argued about this in several of my writings. The conservative bloc within the APC tends to have its way. They have the sophisticated skills to ensure that what they don’t like isn’t done. They are everywhere and this is part of my frustration with the APC. I expected that we would have a lot of debates in the APC and when meetings are not taking place, no debate takes place; it’s all a question of scheming to get positions, scheming to emerge as candidates even when elections are not taking place. We can’t make progress in a democracy like that.”

Lukman said incidences of electoral manipulations have drastically reduced from where it was in 2015 but “where there are gaps is the capacity of our democracy to produce leaders that are accountable to citizens. Accountability in terms of being responsive to the needs of citizens and also being representative of the interests of citizens. There is a wide gap in this.

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“For me, it is also a reflection of how we have not prioritised the whole structure, the whole institution that should drive government after elections. And that institution is the political party.”

‘Joint accounts with states create major problem in LG administration’

With the local governments losing their place of relevance across the country, the problem with the management of a joint account as created by the constitution in local government administration is a major one to contend with owing to state governors’ highhandedness, Lukman has also said.

Akande opening the “Inside Sources” session with Lukman had premised his question on a viral video of a council boss who claimed he met zero balance in three different accounts of his LG, while no one handed over to him, then he asked his question on Inside Sources, “Is it true that the governors are emasculating local government administration in Nigeria?”

Responding, Lukman, a former National Vice chairman of the All Progressive Congress (APC), in his frank answer said “I don’t think it is something that we need to pretend about, there is clearly a very fundamental problem there.

According to him, “Part of it if you follow the debate from 1999 up to this period. The major issue is the management of what the Constitution provides as a joint account. Under that local governments are forced into the project by the state government and allocation from the federation account gets to be mismanaged.

“Frankly speaking, we tend to in terms of the cry about problems with government, concentrate so much on Federal Government and it will appear from 1999 to now that there is a lot of progress that has been made at the federal level. Of course, a lot needs to be done. A lot more progress is desired.

“But at state and local government levels there is still a lot that need to be done. I tell you, during the negotiation to form the APC, the whole inspiration to have progressive governors forum was basically informed by some commitment to ensure that there is some difference.”

However, Lukman argued that the purpose has not yet been met, as a result of which he called for collaboration between states being run by APC, saying, there was a need to come up with a strategic approach to solving the LG problems..

“In the context of that, I was about pushing the states that are controlled by APC to have a common policy approach and common strategy. I must admit not much progress has been achieved. We have made a lot of effort bringing the secretary and government to do what can be regarded as PR review.”

But in trying to solve the problems, Lukman said, “I remember from the beginning around 2014 and 2015, the model of Lagos State security trust fund became an issue and another model of how to manage the issue of education initiative from another state I can’t remember were also adopted.

“Model of prototype legislation were also developed. But because we are not able to get the party to buy it. We are not able to get the party to develop the capacity to really manage governance in such a way that they are regulated to carry policies that the party wants them to carry.”

“Those are some of the gaps. And for me look, I keep making the point the major challenge we face is not the outcry about changing leaders, the major challenge is getting our party functional,” Lukman concluded.