By Ochereome Nnanna
THE People’s Democratic Party, PDP, ruled Nigeria for sixteen years. It is the largest party ever to have ruled Nigeria and tagged itself as “the largest party in Africa”. At the height of its glory PDP controlled 26 states after the 2007 general elections. The party had become so big that at a point it decided to deregister some unwanted members. Its leaders arrogantly boasted they would rule Nigeria for 60 years. However, by 2015, the party had lost so much political weight that it was dethroned by an upstart patchwork of broom-wielding opposition coalition called the All Progressives Congress, APC.
PDP’s “weight-gain formula” was mainly anchored on inclusion. After the military was eased out from politics in 1999, President Olusegun Obasanjo brought some leaders of the opposition All People’s Party (APP, later the All Nigerian People’s Party, ANPP) and Alliance for Democracy, AD, into his government. Inclusion later turned into predation. PDP started infiltrating the ANPP and AD. PDP moles became national chairmen of the ANPP, which was one of the reasons that a former ANPP presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari, left and formed his Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, the core legacy coalition partner of the ruling APC.
By 2011 when Dr. Goodluck Jonathan won the presidential election, PDP had lost interest in manipulating opposition parties. Some critics have accused Jonathan of “oversleeping” while the opposition gathered steam under him and by the time he woke up in panic, it was too late.
During the years of PDP’s power and glory, the leadership of the ANPP, CPC and the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, stoically languished in the opposition. But when a large rump of PDP rebels joined and helped them capture power APC seemed to swear never to return to the opposition wilderness any time soon. There is nothing wrong or illegitimate with this. This is politics, and everyone involved in it wants power for as long as they can sustain their hold of it. It would appear that the minimum period the APC has mapped for itself to rule Nigeria is sixteen years, same as the period the PDP ruled the roost. The ubiquitous reference to “sixteen years of PDP rot” (perhaps as the time APC would need to “reverse the rot”) appears to validate this.
The APC leadership cannot seem to understand why anyone would want another change after only four years. This is clear political vanity. PDP wanted 60 years, they got 16 because Nigerians became tired of them. APC is eyeing a minimum of 16 years. They may not even get eight years because Nigerians are already tired of them. The Nigerian public have already seen the nakedness of the emperor.
Just like the PDP did during the Obasanjo years (as is typical of military mindset) the APC Federal Government under Buhari immediately took control of all the strategic Federal Executive Bodies, including those that are supposed to be “independent” such as the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and the anti-graft agencies, especially the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
The main state agencies that control the nation’s finances were in the bag, and so, gone were the days when state governors were depended upon to bring money for campaigns. Buhari shuffled the leadership of the electoral umpire and put his family members in charge, unlike Jonathan who responded to public yearnings and appointed an INEC Chairman he did not know who hailed from the only region that had the capacity (and the naked ambition) to snatch power from him, the core North.
Now, Buhari and his party’s tracks can be covered by people within the electoral umpire who have personal stakes in his remaining in power. The anti-graft agencies (especially the EFCC) were similarly pocketed to drive the APC agenda of decimating the ranks of the opposition as a party of “corrupt looters” while treating old and new APC members as “reformed saints”. Similar attempts to pocket the National Assembly and the Judiciary failed woefully.
There is a specific agenda to use propaganda and lies to make the PDP unattractive because the party still has a formidable network of old loyalists, some of who are sheltering for the moment inside the APC. The recent publication of “looters lists” by the Federal Government which contains only current PDP leaders and former government officials (including those who have never been arraigned in any court) while excluding known accused persons in the APC undergoing trial for corruption, says it all.
The APC Federal Government and many of its top stalwarts are very proactive in constantly feeding the public with naked lies, blame games and hollow propaganda to make themselves look good while heaping the woes of the country on the PDP. Buhari did not bat an eyelid when he said he inherited “nothing” from past administration. His VP, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, repeated the same falsehood, yet Transport Minister, Hon Chibuike Amaechi, who was a major warrior in the battle to remove Jonathan from power openly confessed: “we met the Abuja – Kaduna railway project 80 per cent completed”. That is just one instance out of a legion.
Presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu even blamed the PDP for sneaking pension fugitive, Abdulrasheed Maina, back to office! One day soon, the most ridiculous lies told under three years of Buhari leadership will be displayed.
Let me end this article by advising politicians who want long tenancy in the corridors of power. Lying and manipulation of the opposition can only get you so much and no more. Serve well, and the public will appreciate you with a long service award. Whether you award yourself 60 or 16 years, it is the Nigerian people who ultimately decide. Happily, they have discovered the formula for regime change.
Those who lie won’t live long.