If anyone was in doubt about the capacity of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to take over power in 2019, the cohesion and singleness of purpose that characterised the just concluded National Convention of the Party in Port Harcourt, has cleared the doubts with emphatic certainty that it would. The entire country saw a new kind of PDP in Port Harcourt. One that had the interest of the vast majority of its members, and indeed Nigerians, over and above the pressing needs of critical stakeholders within it.
The dexterity displayed in the way and manner the party rallied itself in Port Harcourt in the split moment it faced its single most dangerous challenge to its regeneration and quest to reclaim its national governmental mandate is second to none in the history of the party.
Never in its history, has the PDP stooped to swallow its pride, court the admiration of the people of Nigeria and conquered its challenges in one fell swoop that reverberated in chilling silence and dumbfoundment within the fold of its detractors. It was daring. It was brilliant. It was necessary and the best thing to do in the circumstance. In the razzmatazz of the entire political summersaults, credit must be given to the Chairman of the PDP Convention Planning Committee, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State as well as his brother Governors in the Party for the leadership offered and continue to offer in rallying the Party together at this critical moment in its history.
The action taken by the PDP in its national convention in Port Harcourt to appoint an interim national executive committee to man the affairs of the party with a 90 day mandate to unite the party and organise a new convention to elect national leaders of the party, has endeared many Nigerians to it. This is because the action is a marked deviation from what the PDP was reputed for and signals the party’s adjustment to the new political dynamics of Nigeria. Most importantly, it projects the party as being more resilient and committed to the success of Nigeria than it is of any unpopular agenda. However, while the emerging PDP inspires confidence in Nigerians, there are more than enough reasons to show that the game is up for the APC, come 2019.
10 solid reasons are hereunder articulated to prove with a definite certainty that should the PDP sustain its current unifying momentum, it will succeed in changing the dubious change imposed by the APC on Nigerians that has left them in worse conditions than they were over 30 years ago and the country in steep recession.
Rather than bettered, the economy inherited by the APC from the PDP, reputed for being Africa’sprimus sine paribus at the time of transition, has been so severely battered by poor economic decisions that it has become an issue of amazement, how change can so rapidly extinguish productivity and reverse progress in just a space of a year.
Today, job losses have become commonplace as both the private and public sector grapple with sustaining their enterprise. Companies continue to close shops, the Naira is at its worst ever value in history, prices of commodities blaze on consistently in their astronomic adventure and the mass of Nigerians, the very people for whom government cannot afford to fail, are left to grope in the wilderness of misfortune in credit to the inability of the APC led federal government to direct the ship of state on a steady course to progress. It is such a messy situation.
Although the APC continues to blame the PDP for being responsible for its inability to deliver on its much touted campaign promises of change, no proof has so far been established, in a year of APC’s helm at the thrust of governance, of PDP’s culpability in undermining APC’s success either directly or otherwise, leaving many with the disappointing conclusion that the APC was never primed for governance; a fact enunciated in its new christening by Nigerians as ‘APC: ALL PROMISES CANCELLED’ as the promise of change has become change of promise, without apologies.
Hopes have been dashed, especially in the international community, since the APC took to power and formed its cabinet. The greatest mockery of its strong anti-corruption campaign was the inclusion of clearly compromised and indicted members of the public in its government. Some of those included were former Governors, of whom credible reports in the public domain appear to show as having bankrolled the presidential election of incumbent President Buhari with misappropriated public funds.
For many, that was the most remarkable betrayal of the trust reposed in the APC led government and also the most significant move to excuse, promote and reward corruption, thus undermining, or at best limiting, the fight against corruption to perceived detractors of the APC, most of whom are innocent PDP members dreaded for their political sagacity.
To this day, not a single investigation has commenced on any of the litany of petitions to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) leading to public outcry and the condemnation of the Commission as being biased, partisan and vindictive. The corruption of public morals, by promoting propaganda over truth and reality, cannot also be wished away as an inconsequential factor in sustaining corruption in Nigeria. In spite of the hopes in the APC to sustain the gains by the PDP in deploying institutional measures to tackle corruption, no far-reaching achievement has been attained. In fact, the perception of corruption in Nigeria has become so monumental that the Prime Minister of United Kingdom, David Cameron, opined that Nigeria is fantastically corrupt. And Our President agreed.
One of the extreme measures adopted as a policy of the APC is to run government on the basis of exclusionism. For the first time in Nigeria’s history, Nigerians are being segregated against by their own President on the grounds of who voted and didn’t vote for him. The first indication of this policy was made in the full glare of the international community during the President’s maiden visit to the United States of America after being elected. Jaws dropped. Tempers flared. Passions were inflamed and trust got betrayed in that single moment he made the statement excluding sections of Nigeria that didn’t vote for him from benefiting from his government. But it wasn’t a gaffe. It was a stoic and bland indication, although an unintended revelation, of what was to be elevated to officialdom and directive principle of state policy.
Nigeria, sadly, has now deviated from the legacy of the PDP in building cohesion among the diverse peoples within it to become a ‘we-versus-them’, North-versus-South contraption of ethnic-conscious nationalities. APC’s approach to governance clearly sustains the policy of exclusionism and apartheid. In fact, justifications have been made regarding the slant in appointments in favour of the North against the South, a region that has consistently come under attack by Federal institutions.
For instance, the 2015 general elections in Rivers State and across critical states in the South were not only widely regarded as unduly annulled by the Court of Appeal, the court-ordered rerun elections suffered more attack by the military and would have been compromised but for the resilience of Rivers people. The same strategic crackdown effort played out at the elections in Bayelsa State and across the South, where the EFCC is still being used to harass and victimise innocent PDP members.
The South Eastern States appear the worst hit by the apartheid policy of the APC. The Igbos complain of being alienated from mainstream governance. A situation that has led to renewed and intensified agitations for self-determination by the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra.
ESCALATING ETHNOCENTRIC AND EXPANSIONIST TERRORISM
Until recently, Nigerians didn’t know and would never have believed that by voting for the APC, they would be faced with even more daring terrorism than was witnessed and effectively tackled during the Jonathan years, in spite of the promise by APC to end terrorism within its first month in government.
Today, the ethnocentric plague known as Fulani Herdsmen, is ravaging the breadth of the geographical enclave called Nigeria especially Christian dominated sections of the South. Scores have been killed. Many more have lost valuable property by the ravaging fundamentalist scourge. Even a national figure, Chief Olu Falae, was reportedly kidnapped by Fulani herdsmen and to this day, no emphatic measure has been taken to curb the escalating tensions generated by the dastardly activities of the herdsmen.
Insinuations are rife that the terrifying vocation of the herdsmen is beyond being about pastoral preoccupation but part of a grand expansionist plot by Northern fundamentalists to spread their hold on Nigeria to the Atlantic Ocean. Whether the insinuations are right or not remain a thing to be established. But the inability of the APC to unite Nigerians and curb the incursions of the herdsmen on the civil liberties of Nigerians appears to energise the assault on innocent Nigerian citizens, a development that wouldn’t have seen the light of day had the PDP being in power.
It is on record that all Nigerians regardless of faith, creed or origin united under one umbrella in the PDP. Those good days have to return.
In today’s Nigeria, all that a criminal or an economic saboteur needs to get off the latch of the law is to establish both his membership of the APC and his connection to a party bigwig. At the height of PDP’s acclaimed transgressions, nothing like this would have been conceived. But with change came daring bites on values. So much so that the inspector general of police will boldly take a stand against the prosecution of a criminal. Never has it been so heard of. Never!
APC members appear to be above the law in Nigeria today. They are as much untouchables as they are liabilities for national development. Thus, creating a crisis for themselves and the need to change the change they brought.
It is now common knowledge that State institutions have been compromised in Nigeria under the APC. From the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to even the Directorate of State Security (DSS), it’s been a blaze of compromised values.
INEC now conducts elections that are for the first time in the history of the country regarded as inconclusive simply because they are or would have been won by the PDP. The EFCC is so afflicted with degenerated myopia that it only sees perceived threats to the APC as being culpable for crimes it is unable to establish and for which the accused are victimised with their rights infringed and without apologies. The DSS, the Geheime Staatspolizei of the change era, only barks at and bites PDP members and but for the existence of the Supreme Court that refused to be compromised, the judiciary would have been crippled under the leadership of the APC-led government. All these happening under a government and political party that promised change.
To make matters worse, the APC chooses what court orders to obey and which to frustrate or disregard; a major deviation from the gains of the PDP that had established the rule of law as an intrinsic part of governance.
Thankfully, Nigerians now understand the language of Change.
DEARTH IN GOVERNMENTAL CAPACITY
APC has achieved nothing inspiring or substantial in a year because it lacks the capacity to do so. It has no plan to develop Nigeria and has clearly shown a lack of capacity in that regard beyond thriving in partisanship. There’s no gainsaying the fact and it has to be left as simple as it is.
It is still being doubted if the APC truly obtained its acclaimed mandate by securing a majority vote in the 2015 general elections or by cutting corners and blackmailing the members of the PDP especially of Northern origin to submission. For instance, consider the controversy that surrounded the death of Alhaji Munkaila Abdullahi, the Kano State resident electoral commissioner (REC), in a fire incident in his home along with his wife and two children a day after Kano delivered the largest number of votes to the APC with just an infinitesimal number of voided votes. The police is yet to make public its findings from the investigation of the Kano REC’s death.
Almost a year later, whether by criminal conspiracy or karma, Youths in Kano have set ablaze the residences of serving members of the National Assembly over unfulfilled campaign promises raising suspicions about the credibility of APC’s acclaimed popularity.
Besides the above, the vast majority of Nigerians especially those who were caught unawares by the change mantra and APC propaganda feel misled and raped. Most of them do not need to be courted by the PDP. They have made up their mind to change the vicious change of the APC.
The inability of the APC to match words with action and deliver on campaign promises did not only pitch it against Nigerians who feel betrayed but also resulted in global distrust for the Party and government. To this day, no concrete achievement has resulted from the frequent international visits and no one hears about the then popular and controversial shopping list of the APC. There is an apparent reluctance by the global community to commit to the APC led government and it is not for nothing. There is a complete lack of confidence in the Party.
RISK OF NIGERIA’S DISINTEGRATION
The emergence and approach to governance of the APC-led government has further divided Nigerians without any concerted or deliberate move to build national cohesion. Every region in the country is faced with either agitations for self-determination or monumental terrorism. The gaping holes of disunity are expanding daily and no strategic measure is being taken to address the issue. Most recently, militancy, which was hitherto curbed by the PDP, has again reared its head with blows to the nation’s fortune.
From all indications, the APC has lost the plot and only PDP holds the ace to save the country from being decimated. It is for this reasons and many more that Nigerians will surely entrust the country back to the hands of the PDP, which history shows has a mastery for having things flow in society.
PDP is coming back except it fails to unite. It would be most unfortunate for it to miss this opportunity to bounce back. The PDP has everything going for it right now. It must seize this moment to return Nigeria to the path of true prosperity. Nothing else would serve the nation’s interest best.
Oraye St. Franklyn, a strategic communicator and good governance advocate, writes from Port Harcourt, Rivers State. He is senior special advisor to Governor Nyesom Wike on New Media. He tweets from @RealOraye. He is also on Facebook.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.