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Published On: Mon, May 21st, 2018

President Buhari and the APC do not deserve second term

By Emma Nwosu

Let the truth be told. President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC) do not deserve a second term in government! All well-meaning Nigerians, from the North as well as the South, including former Heads of State and respected elder statesmen, have said it. Only predators and charlatans who pretend or cannot figure what is happening think otherwise. The principal test is the security of life and property, Rule of Law, the unity of the country and the prosperity of the people, all of which are now on the brink, as in 1967 when insincerity precipitated an unnecessary Civil War. We have seen the trajectory. Given more time, Buhari and the APC would sink Nigeria – perhaps, unknowingly!

National Chairman, Arewa Pastors Non-Denominational Initiative For Peace, (APNDIFP)

Even Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who fashioned the APC vehicle and victory, has come to the same distressful conclusion when you read between the lines. Whereas Mr. President and his deputy were still roaming in their world of ‘performance’ and argumentum ad hominem (“Jonathan this, PDP that”) Tinubu (perhaps, the smartest Nigerian politician of his generation) at his 66th birthday celebrations and colloquium in Lagos on March 29, 2018, largely acknowledged that the APC government had not delivered. He only believed that, with determination, it could still do so! Forget the unavoidable flak against the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) designed to flow with his felicitating APC audience, but note his cute submission: “we believe and are strongly determined that we can change Nigeria for good and we believe that we are still going to do it . . .” Still going to do it, after three years (out of four) of obduracy, propaganda, and non-performance? There is nothing on the horizon to support that hope!

In particular, with all due respect, President Muhammadu Buhari, at whose table the buck stops, does not seem to have what it takes to lead Nigeria at this time – both in the affective (feeling) domain and in the domain of technicalities – contrary to the claims of patriotism, incorruptibility and conversion (from the sectional dictator of 1984 – 1985 to a cosmopolitan democrat) by his promoters. The only thing you can see clearly is the desperate consolidation of the hegemony of his region and religion over Nigeria.

All the loci of power – from the Armed Forces and the Police to other critical departments and agencies of state – have been consolidated in kinsmen and people of his home region and religion, as if to hold others captive, in the negation of the substance of Federal Character. This is made worse by the intimidation of the Southern regions (South-East, South-South, and South-West) by remonstrative shows-of-force (Python Dance and Crocodile Smile, e. t. c) by the Nigerian Army, in peacetime, as if they were vassals.

By the pretext of so-called ‘Hate Speech’, there is an upcoming law against Freedom of Speech and the media (the only variables still outside the net) akin to Decree 4 of 1984, under which government would have its way without a whimper by the citizen anymore, which is anti-people and anti-democracy.

Herdsmen and their militias consolidating and spreading genocide all around the country (intent on decimating Christians and communities opposed to random grazing of cattle) are neither disarmed nor earnestly prosecuted, not to talk of declaring them terrorists as should be and as the world has. Instead, genocide is downplayed as communal clashes and the proposed solution is the establishment of grazing reserves and cattle colonies (which would become emirates, in the long run, going by precedents) in both cattle and non-cattle states, all over the country! It is the unarmed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) that is declared (and crushed) as a terrorist organization, despite worldwide protest. Kidnaps and other violent crimes keep escalating. Yet, defenceless citizens are being disarmed, rendering them more vulnerable. This conquest paradigm, in this day and age, would precipitate the disintegration of Nigeria.

In any case, let the government tabulate what it has accomplished against what General Buhari and the APC, knowingly, pledged to voters for the 2015 elections. Most of the pledges are still work-in-progress. Many have been abandoned or repudiated. None has been duly accomplished, contrary to claims.

APC: leaders opt for a national convention to select party leadership.

Even the touted increase in agricultural output would be more attributable to the internationally acclaimed reforms (now maturing) by the Ministry of Agriculture in the previous government than to the activities of this government. The same goes for whatever has been recorded in the regeneration of railways, highways, and power. Most annoyingly, instead of taking responsibility and reversing negative tendencies, it has all been a dwelling on oil price decline and the well-known profligacy and rascality of the PDP government that they were elected to correct! It is like jumping from frying pan into the fire!

For example, the pump price of petrol they pledged to reduce by more than 50 percent has, instead, been raised, from N87 per litre to N145 per litre, with a subsidy to the importer still ongoing, by whatever guise. Likewise, the Naira that would be ‘reset’ to parity with the United States’ Dollar (USD) has been devalued by about 100 percent. More Nigerians have been distressed and pauperized than ever.

They pledged to terminate Boko Haram in a jiffy, but, after three years, the insurgents still kill and kidnap at will, to the extent that 110 maidens were easily whisked away from a school in Dapchi, Yobe State recently – notwithstanding a similar incident at Chibok, Borno State, in April 2014. One Billion USD is being staked afresh on the campaign at the same time with talks of amnesty for the insurgents. The opacity of the campaign is made worse by claims that the Dapchi school incident was stage-managed.

By misguided utterances and strategies, the economy had been plunged into recession, with the aftermath of a dramatic rise in unemployment, inflation, emigration and all versions of macroeconomic instability and social tension. It was not a matter of oil price decline but that of capacity. The oil price decline had been contained by others. Nigerians are now commonly enslaved and jailed all around the world. Some die in the high seas and in the desert, running away from the increasingly scorching hardship at home. But for divine recovery of oil price, the recession would have degenerated to depression.

Meanwhile, within barely two and half years (June 2015 – December 2017) the APC  government has borrowed more than 10 trillion, compared to PDP government’s six trillion in 16 years. As at December 31, 2017, Nigeria’s public debt stock stood at 22 trillion compared to 12 trillion as at March 2015. With debt service to revenue ratio exceeding 30 percent and recurrent expenditure still exceeding 70 percent of the budget by this year, the nation is tendentiously being rushed into another debt trap! The low Debt to GDP ratio being bandied to justify this borrowing binge does not apply to an unproductive economy like ours. Moreover, the proposed investments seem over-priced, compared with what other African nations pay. The padded-cost syndrome, ab initio, jeopardizes repayment and return-on-investment projections. 

Side by side with voracious borrowing, we are told about savings and better management of funds, yet, notwithstanding both accounts, distress increasingly pounds the land. And there is no tangible evidence of the behaviour modification imperative in financial distress. Both the executive and the legislative arms of government still cling to outrageous and predatory remuneration, overhead and lifestyle which counterparts, even in the United States (the largest economy in the world, in which the Gross Domestic Product, GDP, of the typical city would be greater than that of Nigeria as a whole) cannot contemplate! President Buhari has retained the large Presidential fleet he had condemned and has spent more time and money on the overseas healthcare he questioned than former Presidents’ since 1999 combined!

The war against corruption has been virtually limited to opponents of Mr. President and his government and, in particular, politicians who have refused to cross over to the APC. It is no longer universal and has, thereby, derailed. Nigeria now ranks worse on all global corruption perception indices. Nepotism (the mother of all corruption) prevails. The magnitude of ongoing corruption (financial and otherwise) will be known when another party takes over the government. Every current government pretends to be the saint.

As it stands, the propaganda that we would have been worse off had the PDP been returned in 2015 is merely speculative and not empirically justifiable, whereas, current deterioration in the economic and socio-political conditions of the people (the conclusive test of government) is there for everyone to see!

If there are no hidden agenda and it is just age and health that are weighing against Mr. President, with a cabal capitalizing on his distress to mess things up in his stead (as some have argued) then, as well-meaning Nigerians have been urging, he should have dislodged the cabal, declined a second term and provided a level field for all, if truly patriotic – having served and immensely benefitted from Nigeria for almost 60 years. Instead of the path of reason, he has declared for the second term without any redress, making a lot of people suspect that he must be pursuing some ominous hidden agenda to the conclusion.

Should that be the case, with all strategic agencies of state already cornered to his feet and with the bill against free speech and the media in progress, the writing on the wall is that the 2019 elections could hardly be free and fair and that Nigeria would suffer full-blown dictatorship and onslaught – in the bid to surmount mounting opposition – if he is returned to power against the odds. This is a natural sequence.

To avert the impending doom, the people of Nigeria must take ownership of the 2019 general elections. To start with, they must rise against the so-called Hate Speech Bill contrived to crush Freedom of Speech and opposition. If at all there is ‘hate speech’, the first thrust should be to address the cause. ‘Hate speech’ was not our culture and could not be spontaneous but reactive. You do not flog a child and then seize him for crying. That is domestic violence of the highest order. Anti-people bills must be declined!

Second, given that our supine public institutions always cue and dance to the body language of those in power, everything about the elections (from continuous voter registration, to accreditation of voters, voting procedure, relaying of result and logistics of personnel and materials, e. t. c) ought to be closely monitored by the people, the mass media and the parties which seem hypnotized while time flies.

Third, the odds would still be against a disparate opposition. Highly motivated professionals and political parties need to rally into one formidable mass-movement with the youths and civil society organizations – to promote better candidates, mobilize and educate prospective voters to register and to vote wisely and to mobilize international support and structures to ensure that votes will count. With the putative voting population of serenaded North-West and North-East, together with the leverage of incumbency and the Armed Forces and the Police, in addition to expertise in propaganda and baiting, the APC could bulldoze or truncate the 2019 elections if not popularly checkmated, the way things are going.

After three years (out of four) there is nothing more President Buhari and the APC can offer than baits and propaganda. They should not be allowed to maroon us further in the desert with the monologue of PDP’s rascality when there is every opportunity to do better. They should not bait us again with pledges or hoodwink us with belated palliatives. If sincere, why not, first, disarm herdsmen and bring the sponsors of their arms and militancy to book? Why not ranch cattle in states of origin rather than spread settlements that would become emirates, in the long run, going by precedents, throughout the country, for examples? But, it is up to the people to rally and save the future or to remain pliable unto perdition.

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