By Grace Udofia
The Director General of the Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF), an umbrella body for Governors of Nigeria’s ruling party the All Progressives Congress (APC), Salihu Lukman has accused organised labour and Civil Society Organizations(CSOs) of misleading Nigerians with their destructive criticism of the government.
In a statement made available to newsmen on Tuesday in Abuja, Lukman lamented that these organizations that used to be knowledge-driven, based on which they have strong connections with academic institutions, are now bereft of knowledgeable viewpoints.
According to him generally, ‘situations of disorientation’ in the country has created problems whereby the character of Nigerian civil society, including the labour movement has radically changed.
He said, “at least up to the late 1990s, most of these organizations were very active in policy engagements through campaigning for alternative policy frameworks. When they criticise government policy, they do not only explain reasons for such criticisms, but also propose alternatives. This is hardly the case today.
“The main approaches of the work of civil society are mainly to abuse and condemn whatever government is doing with hardly any recommendation for alternatives.
“If anyone is looking for evidence of how ‘sublime values’ have retreated form Nigerian public life, just look at the character of today’s Nigerian civil society and labour movement and compare them with what used to obtain in the pass.
“Beyond civil society organizations and labour movement, the sad reality is also that quality of scholarship in our academic institutions is, to say the least, below standards.
“We have professors, researchers and lecturers who cannot engage in any useful enquiry about the challenges facing the country. Many so-called Professors, researchers and lecturers, rather than working to provide new insights about challenges facing the country and to that extent propose alternative responses, join the ‘complaining and wailing’ community.
“They speak in languages that are offensive to government and political leaders with unsubstantiated allegations.
“Part of what has been lost is the fact that categories of leaders of non-governmental organizations who used to have strong values that envisioned a prosperous country have disappeared. Instead, we have many leaders of non-governmental organization who see nothing good in Nigeria and its political leadership.
“They promote campaigns for hatred against the country and its leadership. The culture of political intimidation using protests and strikes have become rampant. Most demands by non-governmental organizations come with threats of strikes and protests in the first instance. In the context of mobilization to produce change in Nigeria therefore, what will be required to change the orientation of leaders of non-governmental organizations in the country for instance?”.
Lukman who is also known to be a vocal critic of his party leadership, urged members of his party, to take responsibility and acknowledge that challenges facing the country require a strong mobilisation campaign as a fundamental requirement for bringing about change in the country.
He added that “being members of APC, how can we engage our leaders differently without joining the ‘complaining and wailing’ group of Nigerians? If, like other Nigerians, APC members join the ‘complaining and wailing’ community, which is largely the case, how can we take responsibility to ensure that the commitment of our party and our leaders to change Nigeria is achieved?
“To be different, APC members should be able to appeal to the party’s leaders to urgently develop a strong mobilization campaign that can connect citizens with all the initiatives of government.
“As part of such mobilization campaign, raising public awareness about the initiatives’ government is taking should be a priority. The second thing is also to be able to provide feedback to government about the effectiveness of initiatives taken by APC governments’ so far.
“To what extent are government initiatives responding to challenges? How are government initiatives’ being able to envision new realities or at least give new insights to old realities? What are the expected roles of citizens in their different fields of endevours to achieve envisioned realities? In particular, how is government mobilisation programme succeeding in securing the buy-in of especially non-governmental leaders to initiate supportive actions to resolve challenges?
“If APC and its governments are being alleged to be a failure, what is the specific alternative being presented by the opposition to APC? The narrative of failure of APC and its governments must be corrected based on a strong mobilisation programme.
“Nigerians just need to ‘focus on finding solutions and less on wailing or blaming’. Nigerians must be protected from ‘self-styled saviours’ both politicians and other desperate categories, whose mission can only be self-serving. A stich in time saves nine”.