By Ochereome Nnanna
THE All Progressives Congress, APC campaigned in 2015 with “Change” as its slogan. The party did not really ideologically elucidate what “change” meant. Instead, it crowded 81 campaign promises into its proposed governance agenda. APC supporters also placed a lot of premium on the supposed “integrity” of the presidential flag-bearer of their party, retired Major General Muhammadu Buhari, and his promise to “fight corruption”.
When Buhari assumed power, we waited for him to address the nation on the cardinal principles of his “change” agenda. None came. We waited for over one year. Rather than show us what “change” was all about, the APC Federal Government and the APC as a political party went about governance blaming past governments and yet copying almost everything they saw on ground. The anti-graft war was a poor photocopy of former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s template: grab your political enemies. The only difference was that Obasanjo sometimes even hit out at his associates and servants. Buhari only raids the camp of the government of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
Around September 2016 the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, launched what he called: “Change Begins With Me”. According to him: “Change begins with me is a national campaign that has no coloration whatsoever (IMAGINE THAT!)…the campaign principle is simple; each of us must live the change we want to see in our society”. Wow.
I thought the usual thing would be for a political party that just assumed power to proceed to fulfill its campaign promises as the United States President, the much maligned Donald J Trump, is doing to my utmost admiration. But Buhari is telling me to implement the change he promised! I thought leadership was about leading by example for the citizens to follow. Or at least, as the Great Zik, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe would have it: “showing the light for the people to find their way”. Asking me to live the change I would want to see is abdicating responsibility and betraying campaign promise. It was only in the past one year that they settled down and started addressing a semblance of governance.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari and his people were having a field day. He has thoroughly enjoyed his old age as President. The terrible experience of ill-health was a great spoiler, but since he came out of it, the enjoyment has resumed in full spate. The kind of suffering that majority of Nigerians, from the ordinary people through the middle class to sections of the upper class, have gone through in the past 30 months never reflected in the lifestyle of the current tenants of Aso Rock have lived.
Given the rumoured “Spartan” background and reputation that Buhari had been cloaked with before he became President, it is obvious that the opulence of public life we see from this distance, is that “change” began with him and his charmed circle of family, friends and “long-suffering” disciples. Some Nigerians on this side of “change” could not bear the hardship and committed suicide or wandered into slavery and death in the Sahara Desert.
As the governing political party, the APC has enjoyed 30 months of free ride with little opposition. When the former National Publicity Secretary of the dethroned People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Olisa Metuh, opened his mouth too wide, he found himself behind bars and in the dock. Since he came out on bail to face his corruption charges, Metuh has gone mute. The only blazing guns have been coming from the Governor of Ekiti State, Ayo Peter Fayose; his incendiary korofo, Lere Olayinka, and of course, Femi Fani-Kayode who refused to be cowed with arrests and dockings for corruption. Sometimes, we also get tepid interjections from Jonathan’s mouthpiece, Reno Omokri, who has surprisingly gone unmolested.
In the last 30 months, PDP, as the biggest opposition party and rival of the APC, lost its voice because of factionalisation. They fought an epic legal battle which was eventually settled by the Supreme Court. Elements in the party suspected to be working for the APC eventually lost the battle to hold down the PDP to allow the Buhari government and his political party to consolidate.
President Buhari expressed shock that PDP leaders could still summon “the guts” to boast that they would return to power in 2019. He went to Kano and declared: “Looters won’t return to power in 2019″. Let somebody close to Buhari remind him that as a player in the political field he is in no position to determine who a looter is. That is the job of the courts. He is in no position to determine who will win the 2019 or any other election. That is the job of the electorate. Anyone who intends to usurp the people’s mandate is worse than a treasury looter. Whoever loots the people’s mandate will loot anything.
In any case, when Chibuike Amaechi was the Governor of Rivers State, he boasted he would not hand over to “looters”. Well, we know how the Rivers State electorate decided the matter. That person has not been born who will stand in the way of an electorate determined to have its way. Our electorate have tasted the people’s power. It is very delicious, and they will use it again against bad leaders and poor performers. No amount of lies, propaganda, deceits, false promises, vote-buying and the use of state instruments of coercion will come between the people and their choice.
Now that the PDP has recovered its full manhood, it is game on. The APC and its Federal Government have two choices before them. It is either they work harder to justify their four-year mandate or live in a fool’s paradise that deceit and the power of incumbency will secure it for them.
The APC must give us the change they promised, to our satisfaction. If they do, we will renew their mandate. Otherwise, the door.