By ‘Tope Fasua
They have been given too many opportunities to lead Nigeria right. But look where we are today? Since 1999 this country has been flailing about, lurching from one disaster to another mediocrity. Today, that mediocrity, underachievement and underperformance defines an otherwise great nation – Nigeria. We have spent untold trillions trying to fix electricity, roads, and other mundane issues that other countries have since taken for granted. We have not been able to produce anything from scratch as a people. Between these two parties, they wrecked the nation. Yet people who should keep quiet in remorse, having eaten the future of the children of Nigeria, regularly mount the rostrum and lecture the rest of us!
Look at education. These two parties have been raping Nigeria in an unending sick financial and mental orgy since 1999. The problems that the politicians promised to solve since 1999 when the military left, have only metastasised. From less than six million in 1999, the number of out-of-school children (mostly boys who carry bowls all over the place begging for an existence) has climbed to 13.5 million by government estimates. A governor, Mr. Ganduje, who claimed in 2017 that there were at least three million of such children in his State alone, now says they are 300,000. What has Kano done to reduce these numbers? Nothing. All over the country, we churn out graduates who have not been properly trained, but who excel only in dogma (repetition of other people’s ideas). We haven’t challenged our children to take this country over, simply because we cannot bear to see them excel. Our understanding of life is to live our own lives to the fullest, and also eat the future of our children. Whether we are talking about health, education, security, the environment or any other index that makes life livable for citizens, Nigeria has only regressed since 1999. When there was an election that paved way for an opposition party to come in at the national level in 2015, many rejoiced. But these ones have proven to be worse – in corruption, nepotism, distraction, manipulation, mediocrity, disdain for the rule of law, and what have you. So what is the use of these two political parties? What is their benefit to Nigeria since they have no plans for our future?
It is easy to focus on the present and neglect the bigger picture. It is true that the All Progressives Congress (APC) government has deliberately gone after other arms of government and destroyed some institutions in brazen displays of arrogance. The party supervened over the midnight raids of the houses of judges, the DSS invasion and violation of the courts, and the international embarrassment that was the political removal of a chief justice of the federation. It is true that they have lied over and over, deceived the people, usurped our freedoms, and sold us into slavery through their dalliances with their foreign friends. Nigeria presently owes close to $90 billion and they have vowed to take even more, and never to look inwards to see what we could do to finance and build our projects. It is true that the APC government has never bothered to work on the unity of this nation. They rode in by dividing the people, they can only sustain themselves by continuing to divide the people.
There are no nationalists on the horizon right now. No elder statesman or woman who is painting for us a vivid picture of why this country is great together, or working to ensure the justice and equity upon which peace will be established. What we have is self-obsession, then tribal and religious politics. The president sees nothing wrong in granting a presidential jet to his daughter. He travels all over the world with huge entourages at our expense, treating himself in foreign hospitals, while telling us lesser mortals to stay and die in the dysfunction that is Nigeria. He sends all his children to university abroad while asking others to put their children back in schools which he has not invested anything in. The definition of hypocrisy, and phoney-ness couldn’t be clearer. Ministers now draft their children as special advisers and assistants, and draw freely on the taxes of those of us struggling to provide value through our little businesses, to largesse because a politics of superiority and winner-takes-all is at play.
But the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) also shares a big part of the blame. In fact, that party created the foundation for the monstrosity that our politics is today. Thousands have died as the two – sorry single party – mismanaged our security situation. Their idea of security is to build it around the ‘big men’. That mismanagement is what has now made some regions to start creating their own police structures. Boko Haram alone has killed thousands of people and displaced hundreds of thousands from their homes and farms, as these two parties made money from the misery of our people. We learnt from one British mercenary the other day, how the Americans allegedly stalled the Jonathan government’s fight against Boko Haram, while they sponsored Buhari’s 2015 election. No word has come from the Villa about that, so we should assume the statement is correct. The lesson here is that the lives of Nigerians don’t matter. It is all about international wheeling and dealing. The Jonathan government itself, like Obasanjo’s before it, was installed by foreigners. In Jonathan’s case, we remember what happened when they wanted Yar’Adua out of the way by all means. Obasanjo is a foreign darling, as everybody knows. Whither the opinion and lives of Nigerians?
The operatives are the same, showing up everywhere with their suitcases of selfishness and greed. Everyone that is in APC has been in PDP and vice versa. All that matters is who is paying the bills. The operatives in these two parties have never invested anything in this country. They only take. They never formed an association, except there was a clear line of sight to national or state treasuries. Nigerians had to pay. They are a lucky, pampered bunch; most of them trained from primary school on the dime of this country, and their children and grandchildren are now on the payroll, getting the plum jobs and cornering all the scholarships. Their breads have been buttered by the gods.
These parties are a departure from some of the new ones, who decided to express themselves when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had already stopped financing anyone. Some of these new parties did it out of love for country, and patriotism. Some, perhaps foolishness. But we need some level of naivety to imagine out-of-the-box solutions to the problems that plague this nation. Some of the new parties believed that there is a need to have a clear departure from this ping pong going on between the APC and PDP, and sought people who had never associated with them in the past; at least those who had not become immersed in the old ways of doing things. A few experimented with crowdfunding and went into elections, hoping to at least make a dent. They couldn’t make a scratch. Yet some soldier on. The INEC recently conducted a round of verification to be sure that there are real human beings behind these parties. A number of them scaled this. The Kabiru Gaya-led Senate Committee on INEC has been making moves for a summary withdrawal of the licenses of the small/new parties, but that move is borne out of disdain, and a desire to squelch anything young, budding and promising. That some people cannot afford the big money and appurtenances of office that the likes of Gaya are sitting on today does not mean they don’t have ideas for Nigeria – or that they cannot be the solution that Nigeria has been waiting for – after all many (if not most) in Gaya’s cohort were total nobodies before Nigeria started picking their bills in one way or another.
The recent Supreme Court judgment on Imo brings to bold relief the need to do something about these two parties. The Supreme Court seemed to be acting a script and suddenly the man who came fourth in the election became first through very curious mathematics that added just enough votes to ensure he came out tops. Many people were shocked, but a number of them in the PDP felt robbed. But who is Hope Uzodinma, the new APC governor of Imo State, if not a staunch PDP member for several years, with a very curious background and a fraud case of $12 million for the dredging of Calabar ports hanging on his neck. His kin complain daily of the difficulty and delay in clearing goods from Apapa ports and accuse government of not opening up other channels, but this man happens to be one of those allegedly doing his people in. The Supreme Court, typical to the nature of blind justice, has awarded this man an election in which he came fourth, based on the evidence provided by a deputy commissioner of Police, an evidence disputed by the election umpire, and which the DCP, according to a precedence of the ‘dumping of results’, is not competent to present.
Mr. Uzodinma’s former running mate in the election, we heard, had since jumped ship to PDP when they lost, and accepted the position of a commissioner. Now he is stranded. But maybe not so soon. APC, Uzodinma’s party, won no seat in the state house of assembly, so it was interesting to see how a government which cannot provide its political bonafides by showing people elected on its party platform will govern a state. One clear option open to him is to pack loads of state money for these assembly men but he also knows they will blackmail him till he leaves, except he gets them to all switch to his party. This he has started achieving when nine assemblymen switched last week. In no time, all members of that assembly will likely become APC members.
Is this not all disgusting? Is there democratic politics in Nigeria or are we all a joke? Where is the altruism and vision for the future? See how much time we are spending on cloak-and-dagger politics and on massaging the egos of unworthy people? Where do the people feature in all of this? Is there someone who still believes in two-party politics in Nigeria and are APC and PDP two parties or one? I think the two could be merged into only one thing – money. Wherever the money flows is where the personalities herd to. If Nigeria will continue with democratic politics, it is important to start afresh. Some parties are struggling to be heard. They have tried to keep their slates clean, and their hearts chaste. They have retained the people of Nigeria at the heart of their existence. The Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP) is one of such. APC and PDP must go if Nigeria must survive. It was interesting to hear the chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, bare his mind recently that he believes the APC will simply disappear the moment President Buhari’s tenure is over. PDP is certainly not an option, after all most people in PDP have also been in APC. These parties have done enough damage. Their core operatives are shameless in their politics.
Nigeria needs a break from these two parties. They were not written into the Constitution of Nigeria and certainly not into our destinies. The two parties represent another failed phase in our democracy. They are actually not two parties, but one, which have sunk steadily into decadence and lack of internal democracy, driven only by the love of lucre, and power for the heck of it. Even executives in those parties bemoan their descent into infamy, and neglect of the common good of this nation. They need to be saved from their misery, and Nigeria from their suffocating stranglehold. Advocates of a two-party state should know that we have just one party, and even that one party needs to be scrapped. We will need two new major parties if we want to mirror the U.S.A. And other smaller options should be allowed to remain for the sake of diversity, plurality and multi-party, healthy democracy. May God help Nigeria. Luckily, we have quite a number of options. May our eyes be open, to seek and to find.
‘Tope Fasua, an economist, author, blogger, entrepreneur, and recent presidential candidate of the Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP), can be reached through email@example.com.