By Sonala Olumhense
With less than one month to Nigeria’s general election, one political party ought not to be on the ballot at all. That is the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
If dignity was of any concern to APC or if it had any sense of character or shame whatsoever, it would have called or written to the electoral commission sometime in the past two years as Nigerians began to turn their political attention toward 2023 and requested to be taken out of participation.
Because it makes no sense for APC to consider itself worthy of leadership in 2023 just as in 2015 it made the case that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was unworthy of leadership.
“In the past, political Manifestos in Nigeria were hardly different from mere platitudes and general statements to which parties could not be held accountable,” the party said at that time. “The APC Manifesto is different. We have clearly stated what we will deliver to Nigeria when elected into office. Our focus is on six priority areas: National Security, Good Governance, Human Capital Development.”
The other areas: Relief: “We believe the Nigerian people need immediate relief from the unnecessary hardship 16 years of rule by the incumbent government has imposed.”
Recovery: “We believe our competent management and leadership will ensure that Nigeria can begin to repair its diminished institutions and the processes of democratic governance.”
Reform: “We believe that the APC’s Vision for the nation will restructure governance in a way that kick-starts our political economy so that we can begin to walk the path of our better future.”
The party then offered what it called “An Honest Contract with Nigeria,” affirming the need for Nigeria to look forward rather than to the failed policies and practices of the PDP
Among others, remember, APC promised three million new jobs a year; healthcare for all; and guaranteed free education.
It would “Triple education spending over next 10 years, from the current .5% to 24.5%.” Triple? Five years later, education spending in the current budget is an abysmal 6.7%!
APC said it would: “Immediately increase the proportion of Federal spending on healthcare from 5.5% to 10%, with the aim of bringing it to 15% by 2020.” That was a blatant lie by several miles: the health sector received 4.14% in 2020, 4.7 in 2022, and 5.7 in 2023!
On corruption, APC said it would: “Create a functionally independent anti-corruption agency, with adequate and predictable funding and full prosecutorial powers and free from political interference.”
The party claimed it would: “End immunity from prosecution for sitting politicians.”
Welcoming the APC earlier, following its formation in February 2013, I had urged the party to understand that it would be held to a higher standard than the PDP because it had clearly and circumstantially proclaimed itself to be the superior.
To be seen to be programmed to serve, rather than to serve its members, I said it needed to establish and to announce clear public standards, and demonstrate that those standards were higher than partisan politics and the APC itself.
“I challenge the APC to set such standards into a code of conduct and of obligations, and publish it. This will demonstrate that the party understands the quality of the challenge that is before our nation, and that it intends to subordinate itself to it.”
Not simply did the party fail to honour any of these commitments, evidence abounds that it has taken Nigerian into deeper deterioration than the PDP ever did.
That corruption has soared is amply illustrated in every facet of official life in Nigeria today, culminating in the party primaries in 2022 that was an open advertisement for transactional politics and the emergence of Bola Tinubu as its candidate.
Mr Tinubu is now known worldwide, principally for the opaqueness of his track record, and sometimes for issues of personal character. Those include an entire library of allegations as detailed in this scandalous research project, or this one. In 2018 in Vanguard newspaper, the now-deceased Yinka Odumakin described in an unforgettable four-part profile the Tinubu that Nigerians ought to avoid.
But remember: during his 2015 campaign Buhari requested Nigerians, “Allow me prove to you that in our lifetime you and your country can be proud of this country.”
Eight years later, where is that country? Is it not stunning that a man who is at best a question mark in any discussion of leadership potential of any kind is APC’s proud presidential candidate and prospective Buhari successor?
In almost every measure, APC has made being Nigerian a source of shame and embarrassment. For every mile of infrastructure built, such as the Lagos light rail which Buhari commissioned last week, there is an Abuja light rail which he commissioned just four years ago which no longer works. For every high school teacher or government clerk prosecuted for corruption by the EFCC, there are 30 APC current and former governors and 20 Ministers it will not touch. For every new eye-service airport terminal built, such as in Lagos, several older ones are rotting in real time. For every year APC has been in control since 2015, jobs and companies have fled by the hundreds of thousands and insecurity has crisscrossed the country dozens of times over. For every airline APC promised, it shamelessly rides 10 presidential jets around the world.
This explains the turmoil that Nigeria is in. The presidency snatches off the streets the chairman of the EFCC, bundles him out of office, but never publishes the report of its kangaroo court. The APC government decides to sell off the assets it has allegedly recovered, without disclosing what they are, only to claim that they have been sold, or perhaps quietly returned to their original owners.
It is no surprise that APC wants to remain in power; it has far more to hide than the PDP did in 2015. At that time, and for that reason, it was easy for APC to hawk the propaganda of CHANGE, and for Nigerians to buy it.
It is for this same reason that Nigerians must now reject APC at the centre and around the country. Unless you truly hate yourself or you are a masochist, it is obvious that the same treatment that was applied to PDP in 2015 must now apply to APC.
By this advocacy, I do not mean that PDP should replace APC. In previous columns I have argued that they are sides of the same coin, a coin I call ‘APDPC.’ They are cynical, conniving, cynical political parties that lack honour, patriotism, or value. Anyone who seeks the advancement of Nigeria and the Nigerian ought to reject lest he catch the diseases by which they have traveled for the past 24 years.
Clearly, who you vote for is your business. But unless you wish yourself at least another generation of swimming in sewage, neither APC nor PDP can be your option in 2023.
Instead, use them as a cudgel or a curse. Save yourself.
This column welcomes rebuttals from interested government officials.