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2023: Don’t take Jega’s claims lightly, PGF DG challenges APC, PDP

By Ezeocha Nzeh

The Director General of Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), Salihu Moh. Lukman has challenged the two major political parties in the country, the ruling All Progressives Congress ( APC) and major opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to take seriously the recent attack by former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) professor Attahiru Jega former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, that they have all failed Nigerians.

Jega had in a recent interviews claimed that both the PDP and APC have failed Nigerians and therefore  called on Nigerians not to ‘give their trust to the parties again.’ 

Lukman in a statement issued Monday titled, ‘Nigerian Politics and Fallacy of PDP – APC Semblance (Part one)’, said though the former INEC boss lacks evidence to classify the ruling APC as a failed political party, his statement should not be taken lightly, considering the fact that he’s not only  a respected political scientist internationally, but also a theoretician and practitioner whose commitment to Nigeria’s development cannot be faulted. 

Lukman, who argued that the responses from the  PDP through its Spokesperson, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan and the National Secretary of  APC, Sen. James Akpanudoedehe failed to disprove Prof. Jega’s declaration that PDP and APC have failed Nigerians, challenged the political parties to wake up to disproved the former INEC boss’s claims, ahead of the upcoming 2023 elections. 

He stated: “What exactly is the evidence that made Prof. Jega arrive at such a conclusion? So far, from the BBC interview, Prof. Jega did not present any specific validation of his conclusion. Both listening and reading the script of the interview, one is tempted to conclude that Prof. Jega spoke more as a politician in that interview than the thorough scholar he is.”

The Director General expressed worry about how PDP and APC contemptuously dismissed  Jega’s statement, with the PDP questioning his credential as a professor of political science, saying it was  one of the dangers of the Nigerian brand of one-dimensional politics. 

Lukman said, “Recall how sadly under the immediate past leadership of the APC, a particular person was disqualified from emerging as a candidate of the party for election based on false allegation that his academic qualification was forged. Even when the Registrar of the institution made a public statement confirming that the person graduated from that institution, the APC leadership went ahead to disqualify the person.

“Perhaps, it needs to be acknowledged that given the disposition of politicians to switch between parties, especially from PDP to APC and vice versa, is often cited as justification of semblance. In addition, there is also the question of ideology, which many have argued is absent in Nigerian politics and is another evidence of why the two parties are the same.

While it is important to acknowledge the validity of these criticism, it doesn’t however confirm that both the two parties are the same and as Prof. Jega alleged have failed Nigerians. Noting that Prof. Jega granted the BBC interview as a member of the People Redemption Party (PRP), it is important that he is assisted to go beyond the seductive appeal of one-dimensional politics by checking what the evidence are with respect to the credentials of both the APC and PDP as ruling parties. 

“Recognising also that one-dimensional politics, in the context of Nigeria, encourage politicians to resent criticisms, which is why Prof. Jega can be accused of being ignorant of ‘significant milestones’, politicians, especially from leading political parties need to also be made to appreciate that their opinion does not prove any achievement or disprove failure. To dismiss people criticising both the PDP and APC highlight the problem of intolerance, which Nigerian democracy must overcome.

Intolerance creates a big gap between politics and knowledge. The consequence is that many politicians will continue to develop inferiority complex, based on which they use very uncouth language in responding to criticisms. It will either be a case of ‘ignorance’ as Mr. Ologbondiyan and Sen.

Akpanudoedehe, will argue, ‘nauseating, malicious and nonsensical as Dr. Chris Ngige will refer to criticism of his management of industrial relations in the country or Comrade Adams Oshiomhole’s reference to people critical of his leadership approaches as ‘cowards and pigs’. Once the attitude of politicians is to resent criticism, loyal party members will be intimidated and forced to submission. Nigerian politics must be reoriented such that leaders are able to respect criticism.

“This being the case, Prof. Jega, the politician, risked being different from Prof. Jega the scholar. If Nigerian partisan politics is to benefit at all from Prof. Jega’s wealth of knowledge and experience, Prof. Jega the politician should be the same person as Prof. Jega the thorough scholar, theoretician, and practitioner of evidence based politics. Being a member of PRP, his contribution towards the development of the PRP should be evidence-based so that he 
Lukman who highlighted various achievements of the APC, especially in the areas of social investment, infrastructure and agriculture, insisted that unlike the PDP, APC led government is not a failure.

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