Since 2015, under the leadership of President Buhari, the APC controlled federal government has rolled out several initiatives to deliver on its campaign promises targeted at strengthening Nigeria’s public service institutions. Quite some significant progresses have been achieved. A major gap being exploited by the opposition against the APC and the federal government is that official communication both from the APC and the federal government is passive and reactive. Efforts to engage Nigerians to secure citizens’ ownership of policy initiatives are quite low. Consequently, the opposition is succeeding to take good advantage of this reality to unfairly portray both the APC and President Buhari in bad light.
Partly because of the domineering influence of the negative publicity by opposition politicians against the APC, unfortunate activities of armed bandits, insurgents and criminal elements in the country are mischievously presented as confirmation of failure of APC led federal government. False narrative against APC and President Buhari are promoted, suggesting that criminal activities of bandits only started when APC took control of the federal government in 2015. In addition, APC is being alleged to have failed in ending Boko Haram insurgency.
Any objective analyst would recall that activities of Boko Haram insurgents as at 2015, apart from controlling most parts of the Northeast, have spread to parts of Northwest and North-central, notably, Kano, Kaduna, FCT, Niger, Kogi and Nasarawa. In both the Northwest and North-central, problems of cattle rustling were rampant. Kidnapping was also there in many parts of the South-south and Southeast. To worsen matters, there was the 2014 corruption case of $2.1 billion meant for arms procurement, which was diverted by PDP led administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
It is true that problem of cattle rustling in the Northwest and North-xentral has graduated to banditry and it is assuming a war situation. However, it should be also recognised that the fight against Boko Haram has made significant progress. Unlike before 2015 when most parts of the Northeast were under the control of insurgents, this is no longer the case. No doubt both in the case of fighting banditry and Boko Haram, there are challenges, which the APC led government of President Buhari is responding to.
Any comparative assessment of APC and PDP management of Nigeria’s security challenges which fail to recognise these realities is only being dishonest. Nigerians must pose the question: If APC and President Buhari have failed as being claimed, what is the opposition specifically proposing as solutions to the problems of insecurity? Or, if as the PDP is claiming that during their 16-year tenure recorded significant milestones, what were the details?
While it is important that Nigerians apply every necessary pressure on government and the APC to expeditiously address the problem of insecurity in the country, efforts must also be made to prevent a situation whereby desperate politicians seek to take advantage of Nigeria’s security challenges based on false propaganda. In all promises APC made in 2015, there are initiatives being implement by the federal government, which include developing Nigeria’s infrastructure, in rail, roads, ports and power all of which are ongoing; achieving agricultural self-sufficiency; entrenching technology in government processes and service delivery; creating the first truly national social safety net in the history of Nigeria; among many others.
Part the challenge of excessive politicisation is that it also threatens internal unity of APC members and leaders. For instance, excessive politicisation is influencing decision of some APC leaders to push negotiation for the emergence of the party’s presidential candidate for 2023 elections outside the structures of the APC. This is now threatening the unity of leaders of APC. Around the whole question of power shift, some leaders of the APC have gone outside the structures of the party to mobilise support for the party to zone its presidential candidate for 2023 to the southern part of the country. In a worrisome way, loose partnership is being contracted with a section of leaders from other opposition political parties, notably PDP.
It is belittling for APC leaders who are statutory members of all the relevant structures of the party that are competent to take final decision on the matter to go outside the structures of the party and forge partnership with PDP leaders to compel a decision, one way or the other, on the matter. It simply means loss of confidence on the structures of the party, which in this matter couldn’t have been the case. It is therefore important that a strong appeal is made to all APC leaders to develop more confidence to negotiate every matter, including the issue of power shift, within the structures of APC.
The current trend, which appears to create divisions among APC leaders must be halted. Question of unity among APC leaders is a fundamental precondition for being able to continue to win the support of Nigerians, which is what can guarantee any electoral victory. In fact, the confidence of PDP and their supporters is only stronger in campaigning against APC and the Buhari’s led federal government, using false narrative of failure, because unity among the ranks of APC leaders and members is increasingly being broken. Even the reality of reactive and passive communication of APC led government initiatives is further becoming a dominant attribute because unity among APC leaders is getting weaker.
Perhaps, also in relation to the question of unity of leaders within the party, all governments produced by the party should be able to strengthen internal relations. Internal consultative processes should be functionally made stronger such that disputes between governments are well managed, negotiated and any possible agreement respected. The recent partnership between Lagos and Rivers States in relation to the legal dispute on Value Added Tax against the federal government is to say the least very disturbing. All party members and leaders should without prejudice to the grievances of Lagos State government appeal to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to initiate processes of direct engagement with the federal government to resolve all issues.
The APC Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee need to take up the issue of uniting all APC leaders and ensure that relevant structures of the party are being used to facilitate negotiation on all emerging issues, including the question of power shift. All leaders of the party should be reminded that the fundamental issue of changing Nigeria will remain a dream so long as leaders failed to work for the development of the structures of the party. Building a party is beyond winning election, important as it is. Building the party is specifically about ensuring that structures of the party are competent and capable of facilitating negotiations among members and leaders on every issue. Every negotiation should produce an agreement which must be respected by every leader and member.
At this point, it is also important to appeal to the APC Caretaker Committee to conclude the work being done to amend the constitution of the party. Strengthening processes of disciplinary hearing and enforcement of decisions should be prioritised. Capacity of the party to regulate the conduct of members and leaders should be strengthened. Being a party envisioned to bring about change, regulating the conduct of party members and leaders will be an important catalysing factor to change Nigerian politics and produce the new Nigeria of our dream. The quality of any democracy is defined by the strength of political parties. Once political parties are irrelevant to the processes of regulating conducts of leaders, leaders are not united, disciplined and respect one another, democracy will be meaningless unresponsive and non-representative, and cannot meet the expectations of citizens.