Less than two years into the second term of the Muhammdu Buhari-led administration, the 2023 presidential race has commenced within the two main political parties – All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). JOHNCHUKS ONUANYIM looks at the reasons being adduced by both parties to gain advantage over each other
For those who are not politicians, it is too early in the day for anyone to start thinking or considering the political parties or individuals that would likely win elections in 2023, but for politicians it is even late.
For these politicians, it is late because the chances of a political party formed two years to an election year winning a governorship or presidential election are slim. The reason for this assumption is not farfetched.
The political culture in Nigeria is centered on strong political parties that have been tested for years at the national and state levels. No doubt politicians found their voices in such political parties. No matter how strong a politician is, it is always difficult for him or her to win a governorship election through a smaller party.
This partly explained the reason why the governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, joined the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) when he left the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). Obaseki, possibly wouldn’t have won his reelection if he had obtained the ticket of any of the lesser parties.
For most members of the ruling and opposition parties, the belief is that preparations to win the 2023 elections should start in earnest, and this begins with sensitization of Nigerians on the failures of each other while it was in government. This, perhaps, explains the reason why the media is awash with what was done 16 years before the APC took-over power in 2015 and what is presently being done.
For the Mai Mala Buni-led APC, the opposition PDP under the headship of Prince Uche Secondus has no reason to criticize the Muhammadu Buhari administration or should it in any way consider coming back to govern Nigeria.
The leadership of the ruling party believes that the opposition party balkanized the country during the 16 years it governed and that it might take 30 years or more to repair. The ruling party said of the opposition: “PDP’s insensitive and callous political campaign against Nigeria’s security services, particularly the armed forces fighting terrorists, bandits and other criminal elements is a lingering pastime of the failed opposition party.
From the onset, the PDP’s intentions was to play politics with the grief of citizens affected by recorded security incidents “Commendably, the leadership of the National Assembly, the President and the armed forces, which the President heads as commander-in-chief are on the same page in tackling emerging security situations in the country and ensure the safety of all Nigerians. “Again, while naysayers and opposition partisans chorus their doomsday wishes for Nigeria; our dear country is nowhere close to becom-ing a failed state.
The President Muhammadu Buhari government is not oblivious to the country’s challenges and is visibly and frontally addressing them. “From the economy to security, it is easy to sum up Nigeria with some recent recorded security incidents and the economic downturn. However, this government has displayed the political will and capacity to contain any criminal/terrorist activity and return the economy to growth.
“President Buhari’s administration which sees the urgent need to have a better policing system for the country and is embarking on sweeping police reforms and supporting community policing, is definitely not governing a country close to becoming a failed state.
“Amid the COVID-19 induced economic slowdown, President Buhari’s administration which is stimulating the economy by preventing business collapse; supporting labour-intensive sectors such as agriculture; creating jobs through infrastructural investments in roads, rails, bridges; promoting manufacturing and local production at all levels to attain selfsufficiency in critical sectors of the economy, is definitely not governing a country close to becoming a failed state.
“President Buhari’s administration which is implementing one of the world’s largest and far-reaching social investment programmes targeting the very poor and other vulnerable groups, including women and persons living with disabilities through pro-poor spending, is definitely not governing a country close to becoming a failed state.
“Nigerians will recall the ignoble pastime of past administrations, which will rather bury its head in sand and spin conspiracies in the face of insecurity and engage in voodoo economics to hoodwink Nigerians, while national resources were stolen and diverted to political cronies.
Those days are gone. “While the PDP and their hirelings engage in their unfortunate and apparently orchestrated attacks on the armed forces and other security services, the APC will rather support their efforts and charge them to do more to further degrade the capacity of terrorists and other criminal elements to attack soft targets.”
Dissecting 16 years of PDP, the APC said: “Instead of burying its heads in shame and allow sleeping dogs lie, PDP’s rantings keep reminding us of the ignominious era when crude oil was sold at an average of $100 per barrel for a consecutive period of four years, which gave an excess of at least $30 per barrel above the budget benchmark and MTEF, and raking in surplus revenues – windfall, if you like – for the country; yet what did Nigeria and Nigerians have to show for that period.
Nothing at all! “Going by the cankerworm of revelations after the descent of PDP, the Central Bank of Nigeria’s vault was thrown open and virtually abandoning professionalism; where individuals drove in to cart away raw cash as political patronages and without recourse to paperwork and inflationary consequences.
“We need to remind all patriotic Nigerians, once again of the missing $20 billion from the coffers of government as reported by the then country’s number one banker (Sanusi Lamido Sanusi). Monies (billions of naira meant for arms importation) were reportedly discovered in private jets belonging to allies of the then government in faraway South Africa, by the South African authorities, yet no questions were asked and no answers were given by the Nigerian government.
“There were indeed, reasonable grounds for a cover up. Over $16billion, as was the yet rotten revelation from public hearings, that was shared amongst friends in the name of power sector reforms by the PDP government, yet nothing to show for it.
This much was established by the Elumelu Committee’s report. “Billions of dollars reportedly budgeted for the importation of arms to fight terrorism, particularly the Boko Haram, ended up in private accounts of politicians and their cronies which was infestation of the Dasukigate scandal. PDP wasted billions of dollars on marabouts, clergies and traditional rulers to purchase clout and support for its ill-fated political aspirations.
“Projects to the tune of billions of naira were completely abandoned after funds were budgeted accordingly, yet diverted to chase private ambitions. Might became right in all elections during the PDP era – even in the Governor’s Forum election; 16 became greater than 19. Salaries of public servants were being owed serially and in most cases as was evident from the series of loans taken to pay salaries in the midst of the oil boom. How Sad!”
However, the PDP would not take the picture painted of it by the ruling APC as it insisted that the ruling party is built on lies and falsehood. According to the PDP leadership, none of the promises made the APC had been met in the last five years. PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, has consistently called out the APC government on bad governance. He recently said that the ruling APC would face inquiry for alleged N15 trillion loot, among others.
His words: “Manipulation of the Buhari administration and importing of terrorists and bandits for the 2019 general election, who are now on rampage, killing innocent Nigerians, particularly in the northern part of our nation are another misdeed too grievous to be ignored by the Nigerian people.
“Plots by the current APC leadership to blackmail and ridicule President Buhari by pushing out fake performance claims, like those contained in the press statement by its caretaker committee on January 5, which was designed to rubbish Mr. President, highlight his failures and deflect attention from the atrocities of the APC. “Such fake narratives will not help the APC as our party has details of their nefarious leaders, including governors, ministers, certain aides of Mr. President, as well as APC fronts in agencies of government, and would not hesitate to make such public at the fullness of time.
“APC leaders are having sleepless nights because the dragnet would soon catch up with all of them involved in the reported stealing of N1.1 trillion worth of crude using 18 unregistered vessels; the looting of over N2 trillion in hazy oil subsidy regime, including a criminal under-recovery for unnamed West African countries, as well as illegal tax per litre of petrol running into trillions of naira.”
The claims by opposition party allegations, notwithstanding, the ruling party said it has given governance to the country and expressed the belief that it would still be voted into power come 2023.
The party has given it scorecards to include the Treasury Single Account (TSA); aligning the budget Cycle with the January- December budget window to allow for better delivery of benefits to Nigerians; the ease of doing business initiatives as implemented by PEBEC; resuscitation 326km abandoned Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri rail line and the 156.5km Lagos-Ibadan double track standard rail line.
Also mentioned in the kitty of its achievements are the 3050 MW Mambilla Power Project, conceptualised over 30 years ago but now receiving concrete attention; the Siemens Presidential Power Initiative; the metering solutions and the solar home systems; the Social Intervention Programmes,; the various stimulus packages encapsulated in the Economic Sustainability Plans; Non-interference in the functions of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC); signing into law by Mr. President in May 2020, of “the Executive Order No. 10 of 2020 for the implementation of Financial autonomy of State legislatures and judiciaries and the petroleum industry reforms, particularly the deregulation of the oil and gas downstream sector.