By Abdulwahab Oba
It is no longer a matter of conjecture that the All Progressives Congress Party (APC) led government of President Muhammadu Buhari has already spent two years in office since its inauguration. What is probably contentious is whether the party has made commendable impact in the polity, especially on the welfare of majority of Nigerians who sacrificed for the party.
With the benefit of a sound memory, one recalls that during the electioneering campaigns, the APC leadership made an art of deriding the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) leadership and its presidency, making them the butt of cruel jokes. They pointed out its inability to internalise democracy and artfully presented whatever PDP represented as a piece of rubbish deserving a quick flip to the dustbin of history.
The attritional campaigns, reflective of the then administration’s misgovernance, highlighted the growing and widespread amnesia, including the spiralling unemployment statistics, insecurity, poverty, hunger, decayed infrastructure, massive looting and hopelessness that seemed a permanent leveller for everyone outside the corridors of power. So, the APC promised to steer the nation and economy away from what they said was imminent collapse. The mantra was change and understandably, it won a few converts for the party.
Typical of a bully, savagely denying the victim every ounce of pride and making it look smaller than normal, the APC went on to present a grand list of promises, which, as it were, demonised the PDP. First, it promised that all public office holders in its government would publicly declare their assets; that it would create a state and community owned policing network, as well as, ban all public officers from travelling abroad for any form of medical intervention.
Even more, the APC said it would implement the National Gender Policy, including ensuring that women secure 35 per cent of all appointments, revival of Ajaokuta Steel Company, creation of 720, 000 jobs in all the 36 states, and a general three million jobs every year of the first four-year tenure.
There were other promises to create a social welfare scheme that would see the jobless and poor get N5,000, a daily free meal that includes fruits, in all public primary schools and building of an airport in Ekiti State. Perhaps, even more attractive were the promise to initiate a special incentive that would promote the education of the girl-child, full implementation of the National Identification Scheme to generate Data, working with the National Assembly to enact the Whistle Blower Act, as well as, balancing the economy across regions by the creation of six new Regional Economic Development Agencies (REDAs), to stir up sub-regional competitiveness.
The promises were legion. Today, two years on, if anything has changed, it is the ruthlessness of hunger and poverty. The economy, it would seem, has remained in auto mode with somewhat interjectory hopelessness at every turn. And, as opposed to high hopes, a few promises of the party to for the good of nation and people, have remained largely on paper and made a constant and steady downward drift.
Clearly, the APC, has all it takes to actualise its promises and make good its goals and objectives; the human capital resource and the will are in abundance like in no other party. The leadership are committed, determined, sincere and resolute. The good will from across the country is enormous and legendary. What is lacking is unity. The party has been stuck in the rut of endless controversies and needless bickering to the hurt of national pride and national unity. Worse as things get by the day, it is nasty politicking that has remained a regrettable reminder of a grand deception and change gone awry.
The controversies have not been in short supply either. From an unprofitable topsy-turvy relationship between presidency and the National Assembly (NASS) to stand-offs over who qualifies for political appointment or not; from alleged budget padding or, otherwise, involving the NASS, to the unending controversy from the confirmation or otherwise, of Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, from questionable and seemingly skewed corruption battles, to loots recovery records that do not reflect on the living standards of the people; the list is endless. It would seem as they say, that the APC in the two years it had held sway, has had its ten fingers in needless controversies, while Nigerians struggled to wriggle out of poverty, which has made living a prolonged and terrifying nightmare.
No thanks, instructively, to the cat and mouse relationship that has defined presidency and NASS relationship from start. With 2019, an election year at the corner, it remains to be seen what achievements the APC would take to next election. Yet, though appalling and discouraging the situation, there is no limit to the power of a reinvented leadership at party level and presidency, especially such that sees NASS as partner in nation building and the people, as essence for governance.
This underscores the inevitability of APC and presidency seeing NASS as a critical part of its policy initiatives without which it would be condemned to poor runs. Truth remains that with too many distractions, there is never going to be a definite and successful prosecution of the ongoing war against insurgency or stemming of the growing and sickening tides of kidnap cases; not even victory over the rising frustration in the land.
While controversies and disagreements often bring out the best in leadership, such can only be feasible in situations where it is constructive and borne out of genuine desire to create and make positive impacts on the lives of the people. As common in civilized climes, dialogue and commonsense should prevail over burgeoning ego and dirty politics and where doubt persists, the courts should be explored.
With hopelessness growing in the land, Presidency and NASS should call time on the apparent animosity existing between them and see each other as partners in progress. Nigerians want positive changes that redound and this can only happen in an atmosphere of peace and genuine desperation by both Presidency and NASS to walk the positive change talk. To do otherwise certainly would evoke dire consequences as the nation looks forward to the 2019 general election.