By Omeiza Ajayi – Abuja
Director-General of the Progressive Governors’ Forum PGF, Salihu Moh. Lukman has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently take steps to overhaul the machinery of his government in order to strengthen its capacity to respond to governance issues.
Lukman gave the charge in an advisory issued Thursday in Abuja, adding that like other Nigerians, Governors are at the receiving end of the unfortunate twist of the #EndSARS protest.
He said if all agencies and appointees of the Federal Government were alive to their responsibilities, the current pressure on the president to act in the wake of the protests would not have arisen.
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“Although given their constitutional powers, they also have critically important responsibilities, but the Federal Government has superior responsibility to initiate a response to the current crisis. While this is not a period to resort to any blame game, it is, however, important to recognise that part of the problem weakening Federal initiatives is the inability of many, if not all the mandate ministries and agencies responsible for one form of intervention or the other to competently and effectively initiate needed responses.
“For instance, how can we have a Ministry of Police Affairs and the ministry is unable to simulate good engagement strategy with innocent young Nigerians calling for reform of the Nigeria Police? What is the advantage of democracy if a ministry cannot be able to engage the demands of citizens? Where is the Ministry of Disaster Management and Humanitarian Services in all these? Doesn’t the mandate of the ministry include initiatives to prevent disaster? Or, is disaster management limited to attending to human casualties by way of providing palliatives? Where is the Ministry of Youth in all this? How can the ministry absent itself from centres of legitimate protests of our youth for more than a week? Where is the Ministry of Defence? Where is the Ministry of Interior? Where is the National Orientation Agency?
“If all the agencies of government and political appointees managing these agencies had handled their responsibilities as is expected, this crisis would have been averted. In fact, the pressure on President Buhari’s direct intervention will not have been the case. The crisis produced by the #EndSARS protest highlight the need for the President to urgently take steps to overhaul the machinery of government if our democracy and our government are to be able to meet the expectation of citizens. It is the constitutional prerogative of the President to determine the best strategy and the details of governmental reforms aimed at overhauling the machinery of government to make them more effective in responding to the democratic needs of Nigerians”, he said.
Lukman said as loyal members of the APC and importantly as patriotic Nigerians, “we need to appeal to our leaders, in particular President Muhammadu Buhari, to kindly and urgently hasten intervention through appropriate civic engagement across every part of the country to ensure restoration of peace in the country. It is now a national imperative for all our political leaders, irrespective of partisan, ethnic, religious, gender, or any other demographic affiliation, to forge a strong national unity as a cardinal requirement for restoration of peace in the country. We are faced with an emergency situation and every political leader should recognise that, in fact, the political contest is only possible under conditions of a peaceful atmosphere.
“The last few days, since Monday, October 19, 2020, are periods of excruciating pain, and, both as Nigerians but especially as APC members, we watched helplessly how innocent, legitimate and peaceful protest of our children was allowed to be hijacked. It is said that the unfortunate poor management of the #EndSARS protest has led to the incidence of the night of Tuesday, October 20, 2020, in Lekki, which resulted in the attack of innocent protesters.
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“Perhaps, it is important to also state that the current crisis is eroding the moral credibility of our party, APC, and our political leaders. A situation where the lives of our leaders are being threatened and our party and our government demonstrate weak responses is quite depressing. What is going on in Lagos State can happen to any state and any leader in an affected state can experience the same attack, if not worse. This must not be condoned and our leaders across all parts of the country must show strong solidarity and rise in defense of our leaders and Government in Lagos State. A threat to one should be a threat to all, which is the needed reality!
“Unless we are able to develop a strong national response and restore peace in the country, APC will appear to be fast losing any moral credibility to present candidates for any election. This means winning elections in the country by APC, especially in the crisis-affected areas will just be a daydream. Part of the sad reality is also that many of our political leaders live with the delusion that, if APC’s electoral viability is weakened or destroyed, they can move to other parties. All our political leaders should appreciate that the situation, as much as it is damaging to the APC as a party, it is more politically destructive to every leader of the party.
“If care is not taken, we may as well be writing our names as a generation of political leaders into a national black book. The implication of that may not be apparent at the moment. We, therefore, need to appeal to all our leaders to please treat the current situation with the utmost urgency it requires. This is the time when our claims to selfless service as progressive politicians is being tested, our humanity, nationalism, and patriotism are being questioned. There is no doubt that our leaders are up to the task. We just need to strongly convey our appeals coming from our depressed and helpless hearts”, Lukman stated.