My dear respected and esteemed Party members and colleagues. It is heart-warming that, the All Progressives Congress (APC) Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) has approved the timetable/schedule of activities for the conduct of Congresses across Wards, Local Government Areas (LGAs) and State to elect Party Officials.
This is a clarion call to all Party members to participate fully in the Congresses either as an aspirant or a voter. Internal Party elections are the most common method of selecting party Officials but more often than not, this process has been undermined time past by people who deploy force, intimidation and coercion as tools to influence and enforce choices. It has led to collapse of the party system and its structures, especially in recent time as experienced during on 29th May, 2021 Local Government Primary Elections charade. The resultant effect has hindered emergence of credible candidates and given rise to internal party squabbles, litigation, exclusion of certain segment of society, notably, women and youths.
Party Congresses is the key to harmonious relationship among members of any political Party because it is the fountain-head and fundamental to the existence and practice of Party internal democracy. Simply put, the Party’s internal democracy is the kernel for freedom, justice and equal political opportunities a Party member enjoys in accordance to the Party’s Constitution with regards to political liberty such as to vie for elective post(s) and wide consultation of members to arrive at party (consensus) decisions if any.
Equal political opportunities and liberties are antidote to imposition of any kind, be it candidate or vital political party decision(s) which bears internal democracy in a political Party. Collective action is therefore necessary to enshrine individual choices. It is a powerful tool and should not be taken for granted. Congresses makes participation in the affairs of the Party more possible, probable, and powerful. Collective action and participation would serve to make the whole greater than the sum of its parts.
So, what is the strategy to drive engagement? Organize yourselves by talking to others and organize meetings, arrange to meet with members of the Party and express your willingness to participate in the Congresses and the Office you would like to seek election. Encourage members to come out to vote on Congress dates. Let them know that their votes will count this time around. The Congresses will be conducted and managed by a State Congress Committee that will be appointed by the National Secretariat of the Party.
The Caretaker Committees at the Ward, Local Government and State levels would not be the ones to conduct these Congresses. They will not be involved at all. Even those of them who may be interested in aspiring to get re-elected would have no advantage over others.
They will be subject to the same scrutiny as every other Party member who is not holding offices. I know that election process in Lagos APC has always been fraught with abused, impunity and manipulation by enforcers and Party enablers, this is the time to put a stop to it and say NEVER AGAIN in our dear State.
The strategy to employ are as follows:
1. Create an Urgency towards the forthcoming Congresses:
Let Party members understand that there is no time to procrastinate by creating urgency in your calls-to-actions, reach out to all disadvantaged members, expose the lack of capacity of the present Party Officers who got us to where we are today. Bring out their performance scorecards and ineptitudeness and the need to change them for the betterment of the Party and democracy. Members will more likely pparticipate if you expose the deficiency of the present office holders and they will feel the sense of urgency to participate.
2. Be Relevant
It can be tough to get people to feel the urgency about the forthcoming Congresses against the backdrop of the yet to be concluded Local Government Election primaries. It is however critical to connect the Congresses with issues that are top of their mind today, which is when would this impunity stops. You should link it to the frustration surrounding the Local Government primary election and the reality that, if care is not taken and a new set of Party Officers are not elected, the chances of the Party to be victorious at the forthcoming Local Government elections will be in jeopardy.
3. Solicit Earned Media
Media outlets are always searching for relevant content. Reach out to them, profile your aspiration, be visible, print posters to show that truly you want to go to election and not waiting to be anointed. Connect with more informal sources, use local bloggers and various platforms with your online posters, and what you want to contribute to make the Party work for all and create opportunities for youths and women, prepare to debate the issues at your local level. This will change the narrative from being selected by a godfather to being elected by majority of Party members. You can achieve game-changing results, without spending money on advertising.
4. Leverage social media Strategically
The key to social media success isn’t having a bunch of followers, it’s about the level of engagement with other Party members. Social media campaign require consistent effort, so make sure that you are out there campaigning and mobilizing.
Strategically dedicate the appropriate time and resources. Use social media channels to promote your initiative and get your contacts to share your content with their networks.
5. Use Your Existing Contact List of Party Members
Social Media campaigns is still one of the best tactics for reaching friends and other Party members. Drive engagement by simply tapping into your existing contact list and sending them a message. You can also leverage the email lists of your supporters to dramatically expand your reach and increase the credibility of the project. If the calls-to-action are coming from multiple sources, the campaign will seem more like a movement.
6. Try Different Calls-to-Action
Your campaign is competing against the short attention spans of your potential participants. You need to use the right language to promote public participation depending on the context. Different groups will respond to different language, so test multiple options and see what works for each target audience.
7. Leverage Community Groups
Community groups and neighbourhood leaders have wide networks. Reach out to them to help champion your campaign. They’ll be able to share information about you and your aspiration with their contacts that are members of the Party to boost your engagement and reach groups in your community you might not have been able to otherwise. This will also lend your invitation to participate more weight, as an invitation that comes from a trusted group carries extra weight.
8. Raise the Bar High
Concrete goals lead to real results. Not only are specific goals the key to strategic planning, but they also serve as a useful motivational tool for you and your team. Be willing to participate in debates and push towards that goal.
Participation in how we elect Party Officers will enhance development and service delivery, make governance more effective, accountable and deepen democracy particularly in a diverse and plural environment like Lagos. Mobile news use and participation in elections has now become a potent tool to bridge the democratic divide. The role played by mobile news in public participation and political process by individual based on demographics, socio-economic indicators and mobile media activity is now increasingly been associated with election campaigns, electoral participation and public participation. Mobile election news use is a significant positive predictor of the odds of having voted and whether individuals used their mobile devices to make contributions during the campaign.
The root of the decadence being experienced in our political adventure dates back to 2003 when the Alliance for Democracy (AD) was killed by those who were bent on seizing political leadership and appropriate it for personal use. The nationalists, founders of the Alliance of Democracy made one fundamental error in their struggle to democratize. They did not critically examine those they entrusted with the Party’s mandate and sovereignty; they were unfortunately overwhelmed in the political emancipation of that period.
Consequently, the incidence created room for manipulation by unscrupulous tyrants and despot pretending to be politicians. The mistake of that period turned politics to mercantiling and wheeling and dealing thereby creating a political system and acts of governance as presently constituted which does not encourage mass participation of people. It is discretely skewed to be continuously godfather dominated and elite driven.
Hence, the lack of confidence in political leaders by members, it has led to mistrust, this ugly scenario has implications for popular participation and governance. It is so sad that we are only professing democracy, but not possessing in the real sense genuine democracy. It is so glaring that Lagos State with its sophistication, today is not democratic, so many things are happening which have clearly indicated the glaring level of impunity and lack of respect for the rule of law and conventions.
I agree that one of the challenges to participation in Party elections is the evil of thuggery and political hooliganism that has caused some member to accept a fait accompli and not to be supportive of the political process. There is a low level of political participation and disinterest in our Party due to this. In essence, political processes are in place, but the people are absent, thus a situation of democracy without the people is gradually becoming entrenched in our dear Party.
The challenges of members participation in the Party’s internal electoral process are also due to fear, ignorance and low level of education, members distrust of their leaders, the role that money plays in political patronage, increasing leadership authoritarianism, the rising unemployment and inequality levels. But all of these can only be changed when we all participate fully, resolutely and determinedly.
What Is to Be Done?
Participation in the Party’s electoral process will engender internal democracy and good governance. Members can then be involved in the process of decision making, it will help to generate superior solutions as a result of wider deliberation and the existence of multiple strategies to solving problems. Participation by credible, capable and popular members elected to run affairs of the Party will provide opportunity for members to have firsthand knowledge of what those elected to govern do and hold them accountable.
It will help to enforce the implementation of Party programme and manifesto. It will also serve as an index in measuring the success of elected governments at the local and State levels. Capable elected Officers of the Party will strengthen and empower local government service delivery and increase accountability and participation.
Another tool which can strengthen Party’s electoral process participation is the increased participation of women. Women constitute a significant segment of our Party’s population and play various roles. Women constitute 49.36 percent of member’s population. In essence, the more women participate, the greater the likelihood of curbing the emergence of tyrannical leadership and promoting participation in the political process. Party elites are merely interested in just occupying posts and enjoying the paraphernalia of office. They are not accountable; yet, the hallmark of good leadership is transparency, tolerance of opposing opinions and accountability.
When women and youths take part in the political process, the so called leaders will be made to realize the fact that they are accountable to Party members and democratic structures. This will go a long way to bring about accountability in government. Participation by members in the Party process, will challenge so called political elites and demand from them transparency and accountability. Therefore, those who are politically active could take up political offices and those who are politically less active can at least participate by voting during Party’s internal elections. In a nutshell, active members and the not so active can feel that sense of belonging that they are part and parcel of one big political family that will work for all including other citizens who are not members of the Party. Therefore, no one feels left out of the political process and democratic development.
Members’ participation in the Party’s internal electoral process itself constitutes a human right which must be respected by the All Progressives Congress (APC). In the same vein, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that was released by the United Nations in 1948 also included Civil and Political Rights as basic rights of the people. In essence the people must have a say in who governs them.
It is clear that Nigeria, being a signatory member of the United Nations (UN) must abide by the convention of the world body to protect, preserve and respect this right, thus making public participation a relevant and cardinal issue to Nigeria as a country, therefore, APC is not an exception. Indeed, Human Rights Under the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended encapsulates the rights of the citizens as contained in Chapter (II) and (IV). Chapter II is titled, “Fundamental Objectives and directive Principles of State Policy”. The ‘rights’ contained therein are known as Social-economic rights.
However, these rights are not enforceable in Nigeria by provision of section 6 (6)(c) of the constitution. But going forward, the Fundamental Rights contained in Chapter IV of the constitution are enforceable rights of citizens of the country. it is now a settled position of our law that the provisions in Chapter IV of the Constitution are enforceable not only against the State and its apparatus but also artificial persons as the political Parties.
In an event of the violation of these rights, Section 46(1) of the same chapter of the constitution empowers the victim to seek redress in a High Court. It states, “Any person who alleges that any of the provisions of this Chapter has been, is being or likely to be contravened in any State in relation to him may apply to a High Court in that State for redress.”
The recognition of this basic human right by Political Parties provide a golden opportunity for members to participate freely without let or hinderance in the internal democratic process of their Party and Congresses, therefore, members of the APC should make every effort necessary to participate.
Finally, in order to reduce the challenges to participation in the Congresses and make it difficult for unscrupulous politicians to buy the popular vote and manipulate them for their selfish ends, members must rise up to say CAPITAL NO to imposition perpetuated at the last Local Government primary elections.
Indeed, members must not fall to the shenanigan called peace and reconciliation Committee. It not other than a way to make members complicit with their imposition. Let them answer the following questions publicly before any peace and reconciliation:
Why did they sell expression of interest and nomination forms, when they know very well that, they intend to return first term elected Chairmen, Vice Chairmen and Councillors?
Why were membership register unavailable at over 90% of the primary election locations?
Why have they not released results of the primary election process?
How did they arrived at the list selected, when infact, election did not take place in over 90% of the locations?
Why would they subject cheated participants to appeal a decision that was not release or published?
Members, particularly those that were cheated should boycott the treachery. There cannot and should not be peace and reconciliation without truth, equity and justice. The exercise, as usual cannot birth any fruitful or positive end result, rather it is to further put salt upon injuries. If not, why would any right thinking person includes those who participated in the charade as members of any peace and reconciliation? Afterall, those coming to equity must come with clean hands, who amongst those that will preach peace and reconciliation is not partisan or not a tool in the hand of their paymaster.
Furthermore, corruption has eaten deep into the fabric of our Party at the State and the peace and reconciliation stunt is another exercise in that regard, it must be checked and challenged. Don’t be deceived, the charade will not stand any test at the law court and events of the next few weeks will be a pointer to that. A failure to stop them from taking you as fools will further entrench them in their ways and means, it will result in undesirable elements becoming entrenched and will further limit the space for popular and democratic participation.
The present level of unemployment particularly by the youth must be quickly addressed if the dream of a flawless political process is to be achieved. A fair proportion of our youths have been constituted into a ready-made tool in the hands of these unscrupulous politicians. Our youths are used as the political thugs to rig elections, snatch ballot boxes and create all forms of political violence.
In a nutshell therefore, the time has come to use your numbers to change the narrative. Choose your peers collaboratively with women to take control of the Party and begin to create a new and better trajectory for a new Party that can live up to its full potentials. Don’t allow yourself to be used again for any nefarious errands.
This is your moment. Rise up and Shine, take over the mantle and gauntlet. Advertise yourself, advocate for election rather than selection, else they will repeat Saturday 29th May 2021 over you again. Take advantage of the membership engagement, Social Media platforms and handles to propagate your aspirations. I wish you all the best!!!!!
You will agree with me that our MUMU DON DO!
Eko O ni baje O!!!!!!!!!!
Ogboni Fouad Oki
Wednesday, 30 June, 2021, email@example.com 08033207681