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Tinubu Running Government Of Exclusion Like Dictator — Ex-APC Vice Chair Salihu Lukman

Salihu Lukman
Salihu Lukman, former National Vice Chairman of the APC, has criticised President Bola Tinubu’s administration, accusing it of exclusionary governance and likening its approach to that of a military dictatorship.

Gatekeepers News reports that in a statement issued Saturday in Abuja, Lukman expressed concerns about the lack of consultation with Nigerians on key policy decisions and the government’s impulsive decision-making process.

Lukman said although the president has taken responsibility for the economic situation in the country, “the crucial issue is, having taken responsibility, how long would it take to get to the end of the ‘tunnel’ when will the expected ‘light’ begin to shine?”

He also highlighted the need for inclusivity in policy implementation and criticized the government’s handling of issues such as subsidy removal, exchange rate policies, and public service reforms.

Lukman emphasised the importance of engaging stakeholders and ensuring that policies are designed to improve the welfare of citizens.

According to him, the main issue worrying Nigerians, and particularly APC members, in addition to whether citizens will survive the current hardship being experienced, is also to understand the details of government initiatives to get Nigerians out of the hardship.

He said; “With APC now increasingly becoming a closed shop with virtually all its organs demobilized and the omnipotent status of the President strengthened, what is the future of the APC?

“Being an envisioned progressive party but end up producing progressive governments in reverse gear, what is the implication?

“Is it a question of leaders becoming indifferent to the electoral fortunes of the party? Does the fact of being indifferent to the electoral fortune of the party also mean being unconcerned about the future of democracy in Nigeria?

“These questions are being asked not in agreement with any conclusion of being indifferent but to attempt to rekindle the conscience of our leaders, especially President Asiwaju Tinubu.

“Without any hesitation, one can argue that at the rate we are going, our party, APC, and our leaders have shortchanged Nigerians.

“What Nigerians are having today wasn’t what was promised at all. The most disturbing reality is that given that the current economic hardship is produced during the first term of President Asiwaju Tinubu, with no end in sight, does it then mean that President Asiwaju Tinubu is not interested in second term? Certainly not.

“If he is interested in a second term, why is he managing affairs of government like a military dictator, shutting down the structures of the party and talking down on citizens like a philosopher king who has absolute knowledge of what will produce possible happiness for citizens?” he queried.

Lukman noted that both as Nigerians and as members of the APC, these are worrisome realities, which weaken confidence in the prospect of getting to the end of the ‘tunnel’ and whether any bright light will illuminate the lives of citizens.

He said; “This is partly because what is becoming very disturbing is that since the assumption of office of the President Asiwaju Tinubu, on May 29, 2023, major policy decisions are taken impulsively without clearly defined plans, at least not shared with Nigerians.

“Three good examples are the issue of removal of subsidy on petroleum products, floating the exchange rate of the Naira, and sanction against Niger Republic following the coup of July 26, 2023.

“Adding to the impulsive approach to decision making, on Monday, February 26, 2024 after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris announced the resolution of the Federal Government to implement the recommendations of Steven Oronsaye Committee report.

“With that decision, out of the 541 Federal Government parastatals, commissions and agencies that existed in 2012, 263 agencies should be reduced to 161, 38 abolished, 52 merged, and 14 returned to departments in ministries.

“To facilitate implementation within 12-week (3 months) deadline a committee comprising the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Head of the Civil Service, Attorney General of the Federation, Budget and Planning Ministers, among others has been empanelled.

“Giving further explanations about the decisions of FEC, Mrs. Hadiza Bala Usman, Special Adviser to President Asiwaju Bola Tinubu on Policy Coordination informed that the committee is to ensure necessary restructuring and legislative amendments to achieve implementation.

“Ideally, this should have been made an integral part of a policy of rebuilding the Nigerian public service to make it more efficient and productive. After implementation, what is the guarantee that the new outlook will result in reduced cost and will be efficient and productive in delivering services to Nigerians.

“As it is, the emphasis is more about trimming the size of of the civil service based on the old neoliberal agenda of World Bank and IMF. The approach, from the way it is being introduced is almost exactly the way previous administrations, especially military governments have initiated public service reforms in the country.

“Issues of engaging stakeholders aimed at guaranteeing inclusivity in policy implementation would appear to be taken for granted. Even the committee setup excludes critical stakeholders, which means stakeholders can only react to challenges of implementation with hardly any potential to influence or minimise possible negative consequences.

“Arguably, with respect to all these issues, it is as if government first announces decisions before beginning to think in terms of what needs to be done to manage the consequences that followed.

“In which case, rather than acting as a progressive government that is dynamic, action oriented towards improving the welfare conditions of citizens, President Asiwaju Tinubu’s administration is behaving more like a reactionary government. Given such reality, it is almost impossible to predict what the goal or vision of the government is.

“This was clearly the same problem we had with former President Muhammadu Buhari’s government. The incomprehensible reality is that both former President Buhari’s and current President Asiwaju Tinubu’s governments are APC governments, which got elected based on the promise of changing Nigeria.

“Part of the change that is expected is having a government that guarantees and accommodates inclusivity, based on which the outcry of citizens is factored and utilised to guide design and implementation of government policy.

“From the time of former President Buhari to the current era of President Asiwaju Tinubu, issues of inclusivity are in reverse gear.

“Rather than engaging Nigerians and getting them to own policies of government, supposedly progressive governments talked down on Nigerians and like dictators almost tell citizens to take as given every decision taken, even when faced with grave consequences, threatening survival as is presently being experienced.

“With a manifesto that was the product of robust internal consultations during the merger negotiations that produced the APC in 2013, the expectation was that, starting from the government of former President Buhari, through strong engagements of diverse interest groups in the country, the APC will begin to translate the party’s manifesto and all campaign promises into clearly defined policy decisions.

“Unfortunately, the most unexpected manifestation of lack of inclusivity in democracy is what appears to be a conscious demobilisation of the APC as a political party.”

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