In just a little over a month from now, the APC would have completed eight years of controlling the central political machinery of Nigeria. As the clock ticks, Nigeria is moving closer to another date with destiny. Come February 25th, millions of Nigerians will go to the poll again to elect the sixth executive president of the country.
With over 10 politicians from various political parties jostling to take the mantle of power, various opinion polls have made it crystal clear that the presidential election is a three-man race among All Progressives Congress, Peoples Democratic Party and the Labour party. Although, in 2015, the desire to test an alternative political party made Nigeria fall for the APC mantra of change without a previous dossier to measure the competence of the only seeming viable alternative to PDP, it is clear that in 2023, the status quo will have to change again.
Now we know better, we have seen the two major players manage the political destiny of the country before. As the 2023 elections beckon can Nigeria vote with her eyes on recess again? No matter how bad the ruling party may have painted the PDP, APC’s eight years of maladministration has vindicated the PDP as the best alternative for now. For many discerning political watchers and Nigerians of age, PDP is most primed to checkmate the APC culture of poor performance and if given the opportunity, will not take Nigerians for granted as the ruling APC is doing today.
The PDP candidate, Atiku Abubakar, a great democrat, astute economic manager, investor and entrepreneur of note as well as administrator of no mean repute, parades a credential that is in stark contrast to what APC has on offer. Atiku’s past foray in government represents the most golden emblem ever worn by a Nigerian vice president in the annals of Nigerian political history. He was neither a spare tyre nor a redundant occupant of high office. He had an undeniable fingerprint in what has been recorded as the unsurpassed achievements of the Obasanjo/Atiku administration of 1999-2007, which remain the brightest era of the current democratic republic. Some notable achievements of that administration such as the opening up of the telecom sector, establishment of EFCC, launching of Nigcom sat 1 and establishment of power stations, among others had him playing vital roles. The establishment of some important agencies such as NAFDAC as well as programs such Poverty Alleviation Program and National Poverty Eradication Program had Atiku’s signature over them. That was the hallmark of an era where Nigerians could buy new vehicles and appliances and generally live a respectable life; unlike the dehumanizing era of today where over 40 percent of citizens have been condemned to poverty.
Atiku’s commitment to progressivism and his unbending faithfulness to the good of Nigeria and Nigerians were notably demonstrated in his handling of the Privatisation assignment. For instance, he fought against the cabals in the then ministry of telecommunications and NITEL to liberalise the sector, leading to the attraction of foreign direct investment that birthed the Econet forerunner of today’s Airtel), MTN and Globacom. That step alone created and has been creating hundreds of thousands of jobs directly and indirectly. The revolution in the financial sector and the revitalization of the hitherto moribund Nigerian Stock Exchange, which Atiku supervised, greatly aided the viability of the Nigerian economy.
These are gains we still see today, 15 years after the Obasanjo/Atiku team left office. To this end, electorates might likely use the performance index of both the APC and the PDP via the ambit of management of the macro economy, foreign relations and security blueprint in previous administrations to determine where the presidential pendulum will swing in the coming general elections. It is an understatement to say that the APC has torn the fabric of the Nigerian economy in the last seven tearful years. No doubt, Nigeria requires a new gown to be admired in the league of viable nations. According to the Central Bank of Nigeria, the inflation rate in Nigeria has been increasing in the last 10 months. Prices of everything have sporadically gone to the rooftop. To make the situation more suicidal, the Naira is daily drifting south. Despite the heroic efforts by the Obasanjo/Atiku administration of 1999-2007 to grossly minimize the foreign debt profile of Nigeria, the incumbent APC government has plunged the nation into a bottomless pit of debt, having increased the country’s foreign debt by over 286% in seven years. While in 2015, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan handed over $10.32b foreign debts to President Mohamma du Buhari, as at the close of 2022, the debts had risen to $40.06b.
This astronomical growth of our nation’s foreign debts needs to be halted and this can only be done if the present hawks are not in charge of the Nigerian economy after the 2023 elections. According to the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics, as of 2015, the unemployment ratio in Nigeria was 9.9%. However, at the beginning of 2022, it was projected that the ratio would hit 33% by the end of the year. The big question is, where is the employment that the APC government promised Nigerians before the 2015 elections? Alas! The APC deceitfully rose to power on the anchor of integrity. It is right to say that APC has grossly failed the integrity test. There has been a flagrant disregard for the party manifesto. The party’s promised poverty alleviation scheme has snowballed into a poverty aggravation scheme. After 7 years, Nigerians are still expecting the allocation of the promised low-cost housing estates pan Nigeria that is being constructed in the air. From 2015 till now, the hearts of Nigerians have been residing in their mouths literally. Citizens live in massive trepidation occasioned by the unchecked effrontery of various bandit groups and kidnappers. Today, Nigeria under APC’s watch is hopelessly entrapped in the web of internal insecurity. The famed Nigerian Army is now a pawn on the chessboard of internal insecurity. Indeed, there was a country. And to bring that country back, Nigerians have to choose right in the coming election by allowing the tested administrator in Atiku Abubakar to mount the saddle and change the course of a depressing destiny that APC wants us to pursue. Itodo is a commentator on current affairs.