The Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) secretariat came alive last December as drums were rolled out to celebrate its Director-General, Salihu Mohammed Lukman, who had turned 59.
In a statement released in Abuja on the D-day, the director, Planning and Strategy, Folorunso S. Aluko, said the entire staff of the forum joined Lukman’s family, friends, collaborators and all progressives across Nigeria and beyond to celebrate a special occasion in the life of a man described as “a dogged and uncommon contributor to the development of policies across the APC controlled states and Nigeria as a whole.”
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Aluko asked God to bless Lukman, a prolific writer, and commentator who was seen as one of the consciences of the ruling APC with all the happiness and peace that he deserved.
“The Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) Secretariat joins Comrade Salihu Lukman, Director General of PGF to celebrate his 59th birthday. Along with friends, collaborators, and all progressives across Nigeria, we celebrate this special occasion with you and your family.
We appreciate your leadership style and personal commitment to the ideals of progressivism. As the director-general of the PGF Secretariat, we celebrate your doggedness and uncommon contributions to the development of policies across the APC-controlled states and Nigeria as a whole. We also recognize your intellectual contributions to the processes of managing our party, the APC,” the statement read.
But no sooner had the footsteps of those who came to celebrate with him faded away than signs of trouble began to manifest for Lukman. Paradoxically, his utterances, especially on the proposed national convention of the AP, appeared to have provided the basis for his travails which culminated into his forced exit.
One of his verbal tirades was contained in a statement in Abuja, early January in which Lukman asked the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee not to take progressive governors for granted.
Apparently referring to the Secretary of the APC Caretaker Committee, Senator John James Akpanudoedehe, who had said the committee was consulting with critical stakeholders before the convention, Lukman reportedly said: “The CECPC should also stop claiming that it is waiting for the meeting of progressive governors before it takes all the necessary decisions to commence the process of organising the convention.
“Such a claim is not only dishonest but also taking the support of progressive governors for granted, which is why progressive governors have been reduced to punching bags of all party members regarding all the challenges facing the party.
“Progressive governors, like all party members, will not associate themselves with any act of disrespect to decisions validly taken in consultations with President Buhari.
“The CECPC must be told that all consultations about organising the convention ended with the meeting with President Buhari on November 22, 2021, and therefore the CECPC leadership should stop lying to Nigerians and APC members.”
This certainly may have been viewed as an affront on the Governor Buni-led APC caretaker committee.
As if that was not enough, Lukman in another instance, speaking ahead of the APC national convention tentatively slated for February, warned against ‘blind zoning’ of positions based on loyalty but not competence.
He handed the warning while delivering a keynote address titled ‘Rebuilding the APC of our Dreams’ at a stakeholders summit organised by the Aliyu Audu-led APC Rebirth Group in Abuja.
According to him, “blind zoning” which was put in place by the then ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) had become a monster in party administration in the country difficult to tackle because leaders “want people who are loyal to them that can guarantee their emergence as candidates at different levels.”
APC Youth Council called for Lukman’s sack
Apparently worried by his utterances, the Progressives Youth Council of the APC asked the governors to sack the forum’s director-general over alleged anti-party activities.
A communique signed by its coordinator, Prince Danelson Momoh, alongside nine others on recent developments in the APC Youth Council also gave the APC governors 72 hours to name a successor for the embattled DG.
According to them, Lukman had shown that he was a mole in the ruling party with a mission to undermine it and ultimately hand advantage to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2023.
The APC-PYC said Lukman, in recent times, sponsored a series of protests and media propaganda against the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC).
While urging the APC governors to name Lukman’s successor immediately to avoid further doom, the APC youth advised party faithful not to do any business with him.
“The Progressive Youth Council of the All Progressives Congress, PYC-APC, has been following developments within our party with a keen interest in recent months and has to a great extent identified the clog in the wheel of the progress of the only party that holds hope for Nigeria.
“The Director-General of Progressive Governors’ Forum, Dr. Salihu Moh Lukman, is the problem we have identified as being major among the challenges besetting the APC ahead of next year’s general elections.
“This development is most unfortunate bearing in mind that the Progressive Governors Forum is a forum of governors elected on the platform of the APC, which implies that whatever is coming from that forum is by necessity progressive in nature, not just for the states superintended by the APC governors but for the country at large.
“This makes it sad that the forum, under the administration of Dr. Lukman, has become synonymous with churning out of regressive ideas on an industrial scale where the APC internal issues are concerned.
“We are saddened to state that Dr. Salihu is complicit in several anti-party activities that were targeted at undermining the APC from within for the benefit of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
“We appreciate that a few APC governors, driven by inordinate ambition are in pursuit of personal agenda in the forthcoming general elections but our expectation is that a director-general that is worth his office would prevail on such persons to align with the party’s interest.
“It is to our dismay that Dr. Lukman has rather actively encouraged such governors and their associates to rebel against the party,” the statement reads.
Lukman finally threw in the towel
It was, therefore, hardly surprising when news filtered in on Monday that the Director-General of the Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF), Salihu Mohammed Lukman, has resigned as crisis rages over the All Progressives Congress (APC)’s national convention.
His resignation was said to have preceded a sharp division among the APC governors during their Sunday night meeting in Abuja during which some of them urged him to either resign or be sacked, hence he opted for the former.