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Identify, engage protesting groups’ leaders, APC chieftain tells party

EndSARS demonstrators in Port Harcourt

Director General of the Progressives Governors Forum (PGF) and a chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) Salihu Moh. Lukman, has advised the leadership of his party to urgently set up a strategic committee to recruit identified leaders of interest groups, including the leaders of the protest movement as part of efforts to end the ongoing agitation.

The PGF boss said APC must resist the lazy approach to present the protest as being influenced by political opponents.

In a statement he signed Sunday in Abuja, Lukman said the current ongoing youth protest across the country, calling for the disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigeria Police otherwise popularly known as #EndSARS protest, highlight some levels of citizens frustration, especially by the young people in relation to engaging initiatives of government aimed at resolving societal problems.

“As a party of change, APC is blessed with many energetic young people. Part of what must be done for APC to be able to reposition itself and attract the new strong energy of our young people is to ensure that the current process of rebuilding the APC is tailored to recruit our young people. In particular, a special strategic committtee to recruit identified leaders of interest groups, including the leaders of the protest movement by young people should be considered ahead of the membership registration exercise that is about to commence. Part of the medium to long term plans should be to try and develop new approaches to political leadership recruitment, which at the moment is unplanned.

“The days ahead will be decisive in determining whether our leaders can take steps to affirm the credentials of APC as a party committed to social change. The ability of our leaders to develop sophisticated structures and strategy, which can earn the trust and confidence of our protesting young people is facing a big challenge.

“All committed members of the party should rally round our leaders to support them to put in place the needed framework to resolve all the problems facing our young people and accordingly bring to an end to the #EndSARS protest. This should strengthen the process of orienting the politics of our party towards social change, which will confirm our progressive credentials.

“It is such a difficult reality. Yet, government and our party must do everything possible to resolve the problems and end the protest.”

The PGF boss also appealed to the protesting youths: “especially the underground leaders to see beyond the protest by taking the necessary steps to win landmark political concessions, which should include access to opportunities for leadership responsibilities by young people.

“Part of what this generation of young leaders must avoid is the unfortunate repeat of the mistake of our 1990s generation of activists when with all the political opportunities after a difficult prodemocracy struggle, in 1998/1999 we failed to take advantage of political transition and participate in politics.

“Not even appeals to our leaders by no less a person than revered Nelson Mandela when on two accessions as President of Republic of South Africa he sent former President Thabo Mbeki, the as Vice President of South Africa with the appeal to Nigerian prodemocracy activists to engage the transition process as part of the diplomatic mission to facilitate military disengagement from Nigerian politics. Mr. Olisa Agbakoba, Mr. Femi Falana, Mrs. Ayo Obe among many others are alive to confirm or refute the efforts by Mandela to convince Nigerian activists to take advantage of the 1998/1999 transition to be part of the emerging political leadership of this Fourth Republic. The rest as is often said is now history. After the difficult struggle to end military rule in the country, at a defining moment when we should mainstream ourselves as part of the political leadership of the country, we came up with theories of ‘democracy without democrats’ and disparaging our political class as ‘Abacha politicians’.

“If our protesting youth failed to convert the current protest to opportunity for access to political leadership responsibility, the resourcefulness of our youth as exhibited during this protest will be wasted. In fact, if there is anything capable of guaranteeing that the legal framework of “Not Too Young To Run” will lead to more political participation of young people, it is the current protest. But that is only possible if the negotiation around the current protest by our young people is broadened to issues of political participation. How can our leaders and APC achieve this? It is important that we are able to convince our leaders to recognise that opening the space for young people to actively participate in politics is necessary and compellingly in the overall interest of our democratic development as a nation.”

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