BY DELE MOMODU
Fellow Nigerians, let me say on this page what I have been saying privately to my friends in Nigeria’s ruling party, APC. I must confess that I have much more friends in APC than in any other party. It is also frustrating to me that some of my preferred Presidential candidates are not in either of the two major parties, APC and PDP. Unfortunately, for whatever reason these talented politicians shun the main stream political parties and thus reduce their electability to almost zero. The truth is that, logically, if you find APC disappointing and must try another party, you must, necessarily, end up with PDP. That is the same party many of us worked hard to sack from power just over three years ago, accusing it of atrocious and abominable sins. This is the dilemma many normal Nigerians face. How can we go back to swallow the same vomit that we spewed out only a short while ago because of the odious bile that it had become in our guts? However, these are abnormal times. And it seems that we have been presented with a situation where we must scoop up our own faeces and eat it, in order to survive as a nation. The question I keep asking myself is how did we get to this sorry impasse in so short a time? I simply have no answers. Where then do we go from here? Do we allow APC to run away with gross incompetence or gobble up our puke by allowing PDP to come back with the attendant risks of returning to those incredibly profligate days? This obviously is a Catch 22 situation. No easy answer, no simple solution.
What are people saying on the streets? There are many factions, but let me reflect on what several of them think. One. Those who want APC to continue. You may wish to call them Buharists (I was once one of them, they are gentle, mild-mannered and reasonably rational) or the Buharideens (the Buhari fanatics who will never see anything wrong with Buhari or his party no matter how terrible and horrible the facts laid before them are). But they both have some things in common, their unassailable love for Brand Buhari. The deification of Buhari was one of the first miracles of the 21st century. Many have asked, how did a man who was sacked from power in 1985 in a military coup amidst accusations of atrocious misadventures, integrity issues surrounding his aides and friends and colleagues, not to mention horrendous human rights abuses, comatose economy due to voodoonomics (voodoo economics), religious fanaticism and ethnic jingoism, bounce back to become the last saint standing? Buhari must be praised for a job well done. What has made Buhari so attractive to his die-hard acolytes are his supposed incorruptibility, simplicity, and ascetic discipline. Can you argue with them? Not necessary. You can’t win.
Two. We have the supporters of PDP who remained steadfast despite the defeat and disgrace they suffered in the hands of APC in 2015. Notwithstanding the tag of fraudulent and corrupt persons placed on them, these are principled and loyal people because they have stuck to their guns in the face of great adversity and challenges. Indeed, some of them have had cause to jump ship and head for shallow waters at the slightest hint of trouble. They have not been able to withstand the heat.
Three. There are those who migrated from both parties at different times and crisscrossed into one or the other. There is no feeling or sense of altruism in their bones.
Four. There are those who vowed never to be in either of the two leading parties. Ask them for their reason though and you immediately can see why Nigeria is in the state that it is in. The truth is that these groups of people have a great deal of complex and fear of the unknown which, makes it difficult to do those things which can make them thrive in the circles in which they find themselves.
- There are radical parties, like those that want to take Nigeria back from the slave masters. Sadly, whilst these parties are probably part of the ultimate solution for the country, they have little crossover appeal to the very people that will benefit from them if they win an election. They are brusque, brash, brazen and brutal. They do not speak the language of the people they seek to represent. They are so driven by anger that their judgment has been beclouded and impaired.
- There are those that just want to be seen or heard, and so on. But I’m under no illusion that we have more than two political parties and that these parties can retain or produce the next President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The fringe parties are just too weak and disunited for them to make any appreciable inroads into the fortunes of the two largest parties who hold sway in the political landscape of Nigeria.
Back to the main contenders. The APC believes the only way to retain power is to continue pummelling the PDP into a tight corner from which it cannot emerge, by accusing it of looting and destroying Nigeria in 16 useless years.
The strategy seems very effective, but it is beginning to wear off for certain reasons. While it is true that PDP fumbled, APC cannot make an evergreen song of that. The reason APC is in power is because of promises made that it would do a much better job than PDP. Nearly four years after, nothing drastic has changed from the time PDP was sacked. The argument that the problems caused in 16 years cannot be cleared and settled in four years is not tenable. At the current speed, and attitude, I’m convinced that APC may not be able to do much even if given an open cheque of 20 years.
My favourite analogy is that of someone suffering from chronic ulcer who goes to his Doctor. The usual practice is to quickly check the condition of the patient, check his blood pressure, sugar level, and stabilise him, if need be, before prescribing remedies and administering drugs. A Doctor should never make his condition worse than when he arrived the hospital. In Buhari’s case, he took about six months to assemble a medical team. He took several more months to diagnose the ailments of the patient. Since then, the medical team has never stopped talking about the condition under which the patient was received at the ward. The patient keeps trying to tell the doctors that he is dying in the midst of this unending tirade by the Doctors about the things he did to bring the aliments upon himself. He tries to tell the Doctors that now he has been informed countless times about his deathwish lifestyle, all that he now requires is treatment. However, his pleas and entreaties fall upon deaf ears. The discordant noises being made by the medical team is all that they and the patient hear! By now the medical team should have known what to do to bring the patient’s condition under control, but their obsession with how he was the cause of his medical misfortune makes it impossible for them to offer any prognosis, much less commence the therapy. This is the tragedy of the APC strategy. No one is ever in doubt that Nigeria was in critical condition when it was rushed to the APC intensive care. The PDP Doctors were accused of cluelessness, gross incompetence and grand larceny. No one expected the APC to make matters worse. But, this is what it seems that they have done. One example is the excuse that Nigeria would have collapsed totally if PDP was not sacked but this is mere hypothesis. The Naira was much stronger, but it has collapsed since APC took over and no one knows if and when it would ever recover or whether it will even get worse.
Those who oppose APC have been promoting the following narratives. One. There is no marked difference between APC and PDP. Many of those who were in PDP are now in APC and not one of them has been rejected or sent packing for past misdemeanours. Two. It is uncharitable for APC to say PDP achieved nothing in the 16 years that Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan reigned. If nothing else, they laid the framework and backbone upon which the achievements of the Buhari government are built. 3. If PDP was peopled by devils, who are the saints in APC to which the PDP devils have migrated and welcomed with warm embrace? 4. If PDP did nothing, how come APC is today commissioning so many projects said to have been abandoned by the previous government? 5. APC promised to abolish the fuel subsidy, but it has since increased the subsidy astronomically without any plausible explanation. APC promised to fix refineries, but petroleum products are still being imported heavily and the common man is groaning. APC has increased pump prices and is still paying much more on subsidies. 6. APC promised to cancel medical tourism but the Chief Culprit has been the President himself who has lived abroad intermittently. 7. APC promised not to devalue the Naira yet the Nigerian currency has nose-dived in a kamikaze fall. Its future is uncertain!
The APC on the other hand has its own version of attack against PDP. One. PDP is a party of looters and criminals who ruined Nigeria in 16 years. Two. Anyone who supports PDP is a looter who’s not happy that Buhari has stopped corruption. 3. Most of the companies that collapsed thrived on corruption. 4. APC prefers to complete projects abandoned by PDP, the reason it is yet to start new projects. 5. APC is blocking thieves from looting. 6. No one can accuse Buhari of looting. 7. Buhari is building a new Nigeria.
My prediction is that the popular song and refrain of “looting, looting, looting” may backfire if APC continues to chant the same song repeatedly. Nigerians want action plans and real action time. They would have left PDP in power if they thought the party was doing fine. Two, Atiku Abubakar should not be underrated. I see a lot of similarities in the process that brought Buhari to power. People were simply fed up with Jonathan and his government and this led to a groundswell of opposition against him. It seems Buhari has attracted a worse opprobrium to himself and his government and is following the same path of perdition from which Jonathan never recovered or returned. It is my prayer and fervent hope that Buhari can see the huge chasm ahead and make the necessary adjustments and corrections so that he does not fall and plunge headlong into that similar gaping hole from which he may never surface!
My beloved, that popular APC song is getting stale and boring…