By Dele Sobowale
“A political party deserves the approbation of [Nigeria] only as it represents the ideals, the aspirations and the hopes of [Nigerians]. If it is anything else, it is merely a conspiracy to seize power – “US President Dwight Eisenhower, 1890-1969.
In 2013, just as the association of strange bed fellows – CAN, CPC, ANPP and renegade PDP members – start to gather together, the question was first raised in an article titled IS APC THE ANSWER?
“Alliances are held together by fear not by love” – Harold Macmillan, British Prime Minister. (VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS p 9).
Until the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, registered the alliance of political associations which had come together under the banner of All Progressives Congress, APC, to me, there was nothing to discuss about the matter. APC is now a reality, so there are loads of issues to consider. The first, and most important, has already been addressed by Harold Macmillan. The former British Prime Minister, on February 3, 1960, in a speech to the South African Parliament, had pronounced as follows:
“The most striking of all impressions I have formed since I left London a month ago is of the strength of African national consciousness….The wind of change is blowing through the continent [underlining mine]. Whether we like it or not, the growth of national consciousness is a political fact”. That was eight months before Nigeria became independent. Most commentators remember the part about “wind of change” but few know the venue and the context in which it was made. His views of political coalitions, or alliances, were just as unique and sensible as his views about politicians in general. He was also once reported to have said: “If people want a sense of purpose they should get it from their archbishop [or Chief Imam]. They should certainly not get it from their politicians”. I cannot agree more. The last person to trust absolutely is a politician; a bunch of them, in my view make up the devil’s workshop – irrespective of political party or alliance; mainly because groups are generally more immoral than individuals.”
Four years and four months after the Buhari administration started its tenure, most Nigerians who have not packed away their brains in a box, can objectively assess the All Progressives Congress, APC, and the government which had ruled (or is it ruined?) them since May 29, 2015 and answer that question.
Most people would recall, CHANGE was the central slogan of the party. What most people failed to notice was the fact that the slogan was totally devoid of content. Granted, there was a party manifesto. But, few people in any country, including card-carrying members of a party, can recite the elements of the manifesto. The conduct of APC governors in various states are so dissimilar, nobody can believe that they represent the same political party. The manifesto was never supposed to be believed and there is no reason to interrogate it. But, there is a lot of objective evidence on which we can appraise the APC and the Buhari administration in order to determine if indeed the political association is a party in the sense that US President Eisenhower described them.
The first question is: What are the ideals and aspirations of the Federal Government of Nigeria and have they gone about achieving them? The second question is: What has been achieved in four years and four months and how much closer are we to the sort of Nigeria we expected on May 29, 2015?
One searches in vain for a coherent set of statements of intentions and actual achievements. One question I have asked several hundred people randomly selected in over twenty-two states of Nigeria is: Are you better off today than on May 29, 2015? The answer has overwhelmingly been “NO”. The reasons are not hard to discover. They can be measured by the reversals of fortune on five key pillars of a good nation under this government. They are: Security, economy, power, transport and respect for the fundamental human rights of Nigerians.
“Even God cannot change the past” – Agathon, 447 (?) – 401 BC.
Before the Buhari praise singers waste their time with propaganda, they need to be told that you don’t refute facts with twaddle. One of the reasons black people are the least developed is because we don’t reason logically. We refuse to allow fact to lead us. Instead we are guided by emotions, ethnicity, religion, party affiliation etc. In short we succumb to sentiments. Our leaders are aware of this. That has made it easy for them to lead us in the same way two herdsmen drive hundreds of brainless cows all over the map. In reality, most of our leaders are little better than the masses they misrule.
On May 29, 2015, President-elect Buhari announced that Nigeria, with a population of 90 million people, was generating and distributing only about 4,000MW of power per day while South Africa, with less than a quarter of our population, was providing over 50,000MW. The President – elect then declared that situation “unacceptable.” That was good news then. Four years after, and specifically this month October 2019, and the power distributed had averaged less than 3700MW per day. Meanwhile, Nigeria’s population grew by about 10 million. Obviously, the per capita power supply has declined in four years. It was not surprising therefore that an embarrassed President on May 29, 2019 made no mention of power supply in his second inauguration address to the nation. That is failure number one.
On May 29, 2015, the nation was faced with only one security threat – Boko Haram, BH, whose atrocities were confined to the Northeast. Lack of security under President Jonathan was one of the majour campaigns of the APC and one of the things that would change under Buhari as President. Gullible Nigerians bought the idea. Everybody just assumed that an old General still had “fire in the belly” and BH would soon be wiped out. That BH is still very much around, capturing towns and villages, over-running army barracks and killing soldiers should tell us all they need to know about the APC government’s inability to fulfil promises. But, there are more indictments of the FG on security.
On May 29, 2015, herdsmen were not among the globally recognised terrorists. Today, they are among the leading terrorist groups as most Nigerians nationwide can testify. Bandits were not ordering the governors of Katsina and Zamfara to come and meet them to negotiate ransom to be paid in order for criminals to withdraw from the states. Kidnapping had not become the nation’s fastest growing “business” sector. On May 29, 2019, all these CHANGES had taken place in Nigeria. The obvious question is: What happened to the General’s “fire in the belly”? When asked if they feel safer today than in 2015, Nigerians answer was unanimous: “NO”.
“Love and business and family and religion and art and patriotism are nothing but shadow of words when a man is starving”—
- Henry, 1862-1910. VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS. P 232.
On May 29, 2015, Nigeria was not the poverty capital of the world. India was the global champion in misery. By 2018, Nigeria had not only grabbed the title, we are poised to increase the gap between us and India. While India adds jobs and lifts millions out of poverty, Nigeria destroys employment opportunities with disgraceful infrastructure (getting worse daily), poor power supply and no water. Nigerian leaders must be the only leaders who have not heard that “Water is Life”. Nigerians have been getting steadily poorer since 2015. A glance at the APC manifesto revealed the promise to create jobs. Is making Fellow Citizens better one of the CHANGES promised?
“When faith is lost, when honour dies the man [or woman] is dead”—
John G Whittier, 1807-1892. VBQ p 94.
Please don’t laugh. The new Minister of Agriculture recently announced that Nigerians have enough food. That shows the calibre of individuals Buhari appoints to his cabinet. Since Ministers must queue up in the office of the Chief of Staff, and foreign travels have been curbed, perhaps the Minister can come with me on a short tour of Nigeria’s six zones to observe, first hand, indescribable hunger and poverty. God Almighty will forgive the man. But, he fits into the Buhari team which forced me to ask once, CAN NOBODY ON THIS GOVERNMENT TELL THE TRUTH ON IMPORTANT MATTERS?
Granted, we have been told times without number, “Every government is run by liars and nothing they say should be believed” by I.F. Stone, the Buhari administration has in three years established a record for “inexactitudes” uttered by everyone of its top officials as might never be broken by any other hereafter. And, on no occasion do they resort to untrue statements than when an independent body had issued an unflattering report on the state of Nigeria under the All Progressives Congress, APC.
Somehow, though, I had thought that the intellectuals and “Men of God” among them would rise above the low level of the rest. National Publicity Secretaries of Nigerian political parties are selected for their ability to pronounce falsehoods with a straight face. Some even become Ministers of Information!!! Professors and clergymen were expected to exhibit certain high standards. But, what does Nigerian politics not diminish? Increasingly, one is beginning to reach the conclusion that in this country today, “You cannot adopt politics as a profession and remain honest.”
Buhari must have a lot of walking-dead people as Ministers. Seldom do I use the term Honourable Minister to address them. They just often don’t deserve it. The new Minister needs to be reminded that we received such utterances before – from his immediate past predecessor. Most people would recall how we were told that Nigeria was set to join the league of global yam exporters like Ghana. Our hopes were raised. Yam farmers would soon be earning dollars. It was a cruel hoax. The first consignment sent abroad ended up on the dump site – unfit for human consumption.
Is there something about the Ministry of Agriculture that it receives only comedians as Ministers? Food is serious business – for God’s sake.
CAN YOU SPOT THE DIFFERENCE?
“In 2018, our revenue performed at the level of 58 per cent. Half year 2019, our performance moved up slightly to 58 per cent” –
Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning. PUNCH, October 18, 2019.
The youngest member of UniJankara was asked to spot any move up between 2018 and 2019 revenue performance. Can any of our readers spot any difference? Wonders never cease with the Buhari administration and the APC government in Abuja.
Is APC still the answer? “Fish rots from the head”.