APC: Two years after
A chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Prof. Pat Utomi, may have rightly assessed his party recently when he launched a spiral attack on it, describing the ruling party as a failure, which requires total reformation.
Similarly, a faction of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had equally described APC as an embodiment of deceit and impostor, stressing that the party was now synonymous with failed election campaign promises, serial lies, incompetent economic managers, selective anti-corruption fighter, architect of excruciating hardship and policy summersault.
According to Utomi; “I’m a member of the APC; I’m one of the real founding members of the APC. It’s not been what we thought it would be; let’s be very honest, the party has under-performed, the party’s structure has been poor. But we shall reform it from within by God’s grace and make it work better. We have to wish on God’s grace and hope that things work differently. Anything that works, that will make a difference, I will do,” he said.
The duo may have spoken the minds of many Nigerians. Yet, in the considerations of many, the assessment may be far from the realities. This is so because internal wrangling, financial crisis, loss of confidence, lack of input in governance, clash of inordinate interests by the party members among many others have contributed in reducing the ruling party to a shadow of itself.
Individually and collectively, opinions and perceptions may vary in assessing the party which made a triumphant entry into the Nigeria political landscape with a bang, but the events of the last two years seem to have incontrovertibly confirm that the APC may have after all become a party built on faulty structures by a largely assemblage of strange bird political fellows.
The harsh economic and socio-political realities currently engulfing the country, alleged biased appointments into federal government vacant positions, failed election campaign promises and many more were enough indices to prove that the ruling party may have only prepared for the election victory not governance and power.
Like tsunami, APC, a product of merger of hitherto strong opposition parties, triumphantly gained wide acceptability from Nigerians with some promises of Eldorado after suffering series of disappointments and impunity of the then ruling party, the PDP.
Riding on the crest of that wide acceptability, the ruling party had in its mission statements, encapsulated in the 81 election campaign promises, told many Nigerians exactly the gospel they want to hear, which matched the aspirations of many citizens and non-citizens alike.
With strong foundation laid on the change mantra, the APC’s well-articulated election campaign promises were mouth-watering and attractive. From provisions of basic amenities to solving the teething intractable problems in the oil and gas sector, healthcare, employment, social and physical security, corruption, restructuring to true federalism, ethnic consciousness, among many others, the APC won the 2015 general elections through strong political gospel.
Aligning with the change mantra, APC had told its apostles that it has the magic wand to exterminate corruption in Nigeria, convincing them that the only reason there was huge unemployment, persistent epileptic power supply, hardship, crimes and criminalities was because the past administration was clueless.
The party promised that if elected, it would turn “stone into bread,” make light shine across the country, make water run on dried taps, provide three millions jobs annually, give the 25 million unemployed youths N5000 monthly stipends, increase the allowances of serving corps members and provide allowances to the discharged but unemployed corps members for one year while in the skills and entrepreneurial development programme.
The party promised to ensure that the exchange rate remains at one dollar to one naira, rescue Chibok School girls within six months, end Boko Haram madness within three months, ban all government officials from seeking medical care abroad, build an airport in Ekiti state and ensure state and community policing.
It further mesmerized Nigerians with sweet promises that pump price of fuel would be reduced to N40 per litre, that Nigerian school children would be fed once every school day, that workers and pensioners would receive their pay on or before 25th of every month and above all, that the cankerworm called corruption would be fought to a standstill among other promises.
Not done, the party promised to balance the economy across regions by creating six new Regional Economic Development Agencies (REDAs) to act as champions of sub-regional competitiveness. It also promised to put in place a N300 billion regional growth fund (average of N50 billion in each geo-political region) to be managed by the REDAs and construct 3,000km of superhighway including service trunks.
The party told Nigerians that it would ensure that at least one functioning airport was available in each of the 36 states and ultimately amend the Constitution to remove immunity from prosecution for elected officers in criminal case.
Interestingly, in every facet of the economic, social and economic lives, positive and negative changes have been very visible on the faces and actions of Nigerians.
However, the questions begging for answers are whether the change mantra has in anyway reflected in the fortunes, modus operandi, actions and inactions of the ruling party, and whether the party made any visible input in the policies and programmes of the federal government it begets through dint of hard work and effective manipulation of “seen and unseen forces.”
For those that may argue in the contrary, sacred incontrovertible facts are on ground to show that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government did not only abandon and forgot the layer (APC) of the golden egg but also left it in the cold in the scheme of things, thus making it difficult for the ruling party to push for the actualisation of the laudable party manifesto, programmes and campaign promises, made to Nigerians during the electioneering.
Daily Sun’s investigations revealed that the party almost crumbled under the heavy yoke of financial crisis, internal wrangling for leadership supremacy, and inordinate ambitions by members, treachery and lack of confidence on the national leadership among many others.
Under the watch of the APC government, herdsmen attacks have become almost a regular occurrence, electricity supply has worsened, businesses and industries have collapsed, and FOREX crisis has almost become insoluble. In fact, while it has been deluge of woes and lamentations, the ruling party has continued with the blame game of putting every problem on the doorstep of the immediate past administration.
The crack resulting from the crisis rocking the APC, which started during the selection of the leadership of National Assembly, widened after the conduct of the party primaries to pick the party flag bearers in the Edo and Ondo states governorship elections. Clash of interests, shenanigan, and treachery, horse-trading and primordial sentiments eclipsed and relegated collective interest and internal democracy to the background.
In the last two years, the APC failed in the conduct of party primaries in the states. The inability to manage the ill feelings, the rancour and misgivings of the chieftains of the party after the party primaries was the party’s greatest undoing.
Rightly or wrongly, the party’s national leadership stepped on many toes in the management of the controversies. The leadership was blackmailed and accused of compromising their integrity. Their decision did not only widen the divide in the party but also pitched them against many APC leaders with entrenched interest.
The National Working Committee (NWC) could not come out unscratched from the conduct of the Ondo state governorship primary, which resulted in the party’s national leader, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu taking the national chairman to the party, Chief Odigie-Oyegun to the cleaners.
Speaking to newsmen recently after the meeting between the NWC and the Progressives Governors’ Forum, the governor of Kaduna state, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, had admitted that stakeholders actually starved the party of funds.
Daily Sun gathered that for two years, APC operated as a party collapsing under heavy financial weight without any workable means of generating funds to oil the party machinery.
The financial crunch became more worrisome when the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) disconnected the party secretariat over unpaid bills running into millions of naira, thus paralysing its activities.
It took the intervention of members of staff to raise little amount of money to fix the faulty standby generating set to supply power to the headquarters of the ruling party to avoid further embarrassment.
Although oblivious of the consequences of not organising a mid-term convention, the ruling party seems to be very helpless in bringing stakeholders to the convention to evaluate to performance of the party. Lack of funds and the recurring health challenges of President Buhari and internal wrangling have combined to make the party’s convention an impossible task.
APC can still hold its head high
Despite the odds against the party, it would however be a great disservice to dismiss the party and its government as a complete failure, considering the achievements it has recorded in the past two years in some areas.
Although APC as a party may have failed in its inability to resolve crisis rocking the party in every part of the country, the intense war against corruption which yielded positive results, is worthy of a pass mark, some analysts say.
Listing the achievements so far recorded under the current administration, the party’s national scribe, Mai Mala Buni, recently argued that the nation was well on the path to quick economic recovery.
“The President Muhammadu Buhari administration has embarked on well- thought out economic agenda, policy actions, appropriate fiscal governance, and socio-political reforms to revamp the economy and tackle the nation’s current challenges in the short to long term.
“Under the new flexible foreign exchange policy introduced by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), we now have a single market-determined exchange rate which enables suppliers of foreign currencies to bring in their money and take the same out at market-determined rates.
“The President Buhari-led administration is aggressively formulating and implementing policies aimed at diversifying Nigeria’s economy from oil to other sectors such as agriculture, mining and manufacturing.
“The administration has also proactively tackled increased attacks on oil facilities in the Niger Delta region which led to disruptions in crude production. The President’s diplomatic shuttle yielded positive effects on the country’s economic policies. As a result, several agreements concluded during the visits are positively impacting on key sectors of the Nigerian economy including power, solid minerals, agriculture, housing and rail transportation.
“The fight against corruption remains a top priority for the President Buhari APC-led administration. In spite of desperate attempts by some partisans to discredit anti-corruption efforts in some quarters, the war against corruption is being won and has been well-received and supported. The generality of Nigerians agree that the days of impunity are over.
“Through the full implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) by the President Buhari APC-led administration, revenue leakages have been greatly plugged.
“The new petroleum products supply and pricing framework which eliminated corruption-tainted subsidy payments has among others greatly solved fuel scarcity by ensuring availability of the products at all locations in the country.
“It has reduced hoarding, smuggling and diversion substantially and stabilise price at the actual product price; encouraged investments in both Refineries and Retails; provided government more revenue to address social and infrastructural needs of the country.
“In line with the critical infrastructural focus of the President Buhari administration, an unprecedented over 30 percent of 2017 budgetary provision has been committed to capital projects. As the administration works assiduously to build a new and solid foundation, credible image and pull the country out of the present hardships, the APC appeals for patience and cooperation from Nigerians,” he quipped.