Wednesday Column By USSIJU MEDANER
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Last week, I did a systemic analysis of what transpired in Edo state culminating in the undeserved but attained victory for PDP and its candidate. It remains my opinion that APC created the slip that handed the victory to governor Obaseki and presented the winner’s medal to the opposition; an irony of self-defeat. I am still dissecting the full import of the individual and groups plays that shaped the election outing and the consequences on individuals, groups, political parties and the Nigerian state. The fact remains that the implications of what transpired in Edo state goes beyond the Obaseki victory; it is more of a self-revealing anecdote on one part for the All Progressives Congress; and a likely false hope of what is to come for the winner, now referring to the People’s Democratic Party.
I had read and had to argue repeatedly on the capacity of PDP to win the just concluded Edo election, and I remain adamant in my opinion that the party lacked the wherewithal to pull a win in an election in any state of the country other than the indigenous PDP states in the South East and South-South, exclusive of what Edo was before the Oshiomhole errors in the state and the internal rancor within the APC Governor Forum that gave off the Victory. The truth remains that the party, PDP, had become bereft of the coordination required to win a competitive election in our present political enclave. The antecedent of the party, regardless of the game of propagandas that has become the party accustomed practice, would only attract the few elites who are partakers in the party’s ignoble lot but not the masses and real population of Nigeria electorates, who throng out to vote.
In Edo state, APC did not contest against PDP, but against itself. As a governor for four years, Obaseki has gained access to the bulk of the APC party structure in the state; the bulk of the frontiers of the party are mostly engaged in his government in various capacity; and he is still the governor with all the paraphernalia of the office of a governor and the power of an incumbent. Comrade Oshiomhole only made the job easier for him when he saw to it that the party was further divided by his consistent refusal to differentiate between his need for personal revenge and the party’s utmost need for winning the election.
On the part of APC, the outcome of the election is a bitter lesson and a due recompense for the party’s negligence in the administration of its internal politics and resolution of identified conflicts among the ranks of its members in Edo state. The president coming out to clearly state he cannot be totally exonerated from the apportionment of blames for his party loss is a statement that must be understood for what it really meant. That the president allowed an atmosphere of free, fair and credible election in the state, even if it meant his party will lose the election, cannot be the reason to apportion any blame to Mr. President; by doing that, he only deserves accolades for taking the country through a path that is alien to Nigerian but which is the right and noble path.
Now to PDP, regardless of the simplicity of the fight that gave them Edo state on a platter of gold, the party must be careful as much as wary of building false hope after winning Edo state. Taking advantage of the slip in the ruling All Progressive Congress to nip the Edo state poll does not necessarily translate to mass acceptance of PDP by Edolites and the Nigerian masses. Obvious events in the party across the country since the 2019 election has not shown a party that is ready to reclaim the presidency. PDP remains as divided and uncoordinated as it was in the period that led to both the 2015 and 2019 elections and the current leadership the party remains as undecided and out-of-focus as ever. The party, as the major opposition party has failed woefully to take advantage of the opportunity to engage the ruling party to both salvage its damage reputation from the past and to build both its integrity and popularity.
By some calculation, it might seem that the ruling APC is losing the support of Nigerians and the popularity it enjoyed in the past, but the reality is that when the time to make decision of supporting a political party competitively, APC will still always stand taller than PDP; because the latter, despite the propagandas of the opposition, stands taller in the real development of several sectors of the Nigeria economy compared to the wasted sixteen years of PDP. Besides the fact that the financial atrocities committed by the former ruling party are still fresh in the minds of Nigerians and would continue to speak against the party, until Nigerians see real changes in the constitution and administration of the party.
If PDP and its supporters chose to imbibe the false hope of the Edo victory for the party translating to an increase in popularity and a prospect of winning in the future, then they would be a victim of an illusory dream. The future of PDP as much as the party’s current realities cannot be divorced from its ignoble precedents; and that much, I will attempt to remind everyone that cares to know.
To start with, apparently, almost half of the states and other elective positions PDP is currently holding at the national assembly are consequent upon various slips and cracks within APC at the state levels. In Adamawa, Bauchi, Zamfara , Rivers , Balyesa , and now Edo state, it is either the case of APC was forced to abandon its winning because of technical lapses created by uncompromising warring factions within the party preventing it to feature nominees with better chances coasting to victory or intra-party impasses forcing members to cast their votes for candidates of rival party. PDP, having lost the structure to win a competitive electioneering outing way back 2015, has been living on propagandas, scavenging, and taking advantages of cracks in the ruling party to win the few elections the party had won; the party mostly stays on the lookout for factions within the ruling party and take side to its advantages. This, very surely has come to an end, with the resolution of APC to set its house in order and prevent further and future cracks that could rob the party of deserved victories.
Secondly, Nigerians are not shortsighted, for a party that governed for 16 years and oversaw the eruption of some of its greatest security and economic challenges this country has ever experienced including militancy in the Niger Delta; birth of Boko Haram terrorism in the North-East and the failure to arrest the insurgency when it was easily possible until the country becomes engulfed by the sect, and sectarian tensions in the North-Central; the redefinition of and unbridled corruption; and the destruction of the nation’ potential for economic and social advancement. Nigerians have full understanding of the nature, ideology, corruption disposition, and not the least is PDP’s lack of consideration for the welfare of Nigerians which were the hallmark of its administration from 1999 till 2015.
Nigerians remain conversant with the level of crisis that rocked the then ruling party until it became a shadow of itself; we all remember how the 16 years of PDP presented the most unstable and crisis-ridden party with low-internal cohesion in the Fourth Republic. That was a party that was managed by no less than 11 national party chairmen all of whom left office in controversial circumstances between 1999 and 2015. So, it rightly becomes that PDP has no locus standi to berate the ruling APC for the few and incomparable impasses that seem to rock the latter. Compared to what PDP was, APC is a far better alternative then, as much as it is now and would be into the future.
While PDP held sway in Nigeria, leadership problems were not the only challenge it had. It also suffered from absence of coherent ideological principles that could have focused its government and guided its members in public offices. Under the party, virtually all indices of national socio-political and economic development sharply declined; poverty level rose, so was insecurity, sectional tension, corruption, and bad governance which came to its lowest under Jonathan administration as Nigeria almost became a pariah state. This is without making mention of the total collapse of the nation’s infrastructure without genuine commitment to revive it; whether it is the road, bridge, rail, health, education or whatever.
The explanation for the PDP bastardisation of the Nigeria economy and the security situation of the country was solely located in the type of principles which the party espoused under its rule. Asides the fact that the party had no clear-cut direction for government policies and administration, it is also exposed as a catch-all party that stretch its principles and policies to accommodate conflicting interests which gravitate towards neoliberal capitalist ideology albeit in a distorted form; so much that the organisational disposition and behavior of the party, obviously, placed more concern on placating party elites and patrons by accommodating their excessiveness all through without consideration for the country and Nigerians.
Another factor that set out PDP as an error this nation cannot afford to repeat was the blatant readiness of the party to distort Nigerian democracy and win elections by all means possible. We all remember the 2003 and the 2007 general elections that were held in the country under the leadership of the party; we remember how election results were released while collation and counting of ballots were still underway; we remember how late President Umaru Yar’adua emerged. We remember, very well, the Ekiti election that brought in Fayose for his second term in office; we remember quite well, how the voice of the people became completely lost in the determination of who governed them and those that represent them; and How PDP writes results in their sitting rooms and turn INEC to its puppet.
As far as I am concerned and I am sure many Nigerians share my sentiment; but, PDP must be of the opinion that Nigerians have short memories else they would not have been so bold trying to make a return attempt to rule this country again. But what is happening today is, PDP taking advantage of the poverty they indirectly inflicted on the people by their 16 years of misrule, and the party’s well-oiled wheel of propaganda. It has thrown shame to the wind and thinks Nigeria will in any time in the nearest future forget what the party represented and throng out to support them. Regardless of what might be obtainable today, and irrespective of the accidental victories of the party in few states where the ruling APC has committed blunders, Nigerians will always in the future stand individually and collectively to prevent the return of the unrepentant master treasury looters anywhere near the Nigerian treasury.
Since PDP thinks all Nigerians suffer shared loss of memory, I will take it upon myself, as a help, to joggle the latter’s memory back to reality. The atrocities of PDP against Nigerians and Nigeria’s commonwealth over the 16 years of its inglorious rule are enormous and cannot be easily exhausted nor forgotten in a hurry; but I will attempt to remind us of a few of such gross disregard for decorum and sanctity of government during the reign of PDP. So, for the benefit of those who may have forgotten or those who were not aware, these facts were what define the entire 16 years of PDP; usurping the commonwealth of Nigeria and the legacy they handed over to the present Administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Before 2015, those who masterminded the coordination of the economy at different times for the PDP government, inclusive of former Central Bank Governors, Prof Charles Soludo and Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, both under PDP, Dr Oby Ezekwesili, Godswill Akpabio, the former Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy under Jonathan, Dr Okonjo Iweala, Peter Obi, the then Governor of Anambra State, all in the period lasting till 2015, lamented at different fora about what is to become of the economy of the country with PDP administration of impunity – even though they were all part of the regime. Ranging from intentional gross mismanagement of national resources, unchecked corruption that brings up the names of the likes of the former minister of petroleum, Deziani Alison Madueke, former National Security Adviser to the President, Col Dasuki Sambo and a list of others that we cannot forget in a hurry. Nigeria was generating monies that were not remitted to the Federation Account; monies that were conveniently ending in the private accounts of individuals who altogether agreed with the former president PDP produced that ‘stealing is not corruption,’ while the state of national infrastructure and general development was diminished by the day.
When we remember the Dasuki goodwill – some call him father christmas, others, ATM master – as he distributed the commonwealth of our nation among their cronies and Mrs Diezzani who went with our national money to become a citizen of Dominican Republic, we would realised that PDP left behind only what they cannot carry or unable to lay their hands on from Nigeria as they looted Nigeria into RECESSION and know that they deserve to not be given the opportunity to access the commonwealth of this nation again.
On the part of the ruling APC, it is high time it realised the damage it is doing to itself by being utterly complacent as regard blowing its own trumpet. One thing that has been very obvious in the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Administration of APC is the unprecedented massive infrastructural development as well as social reengineering of the fabrics of Nigeria since 2015, regardless of the incessant occurrences of repeating insecurity and economic imbalances. The development in physical infrastructure such as roads, bridges, rail development, and energy are well spread across the country and are remarkable and undeniable. Pragmatic changes and innovations in social and economic interventions by the government are equally remarkable. Unfortunately for the party, a large population of Nigerians either do not see these developments, or are not aware of them, or as you may have guessed, are being fed with narratives that discredit the administration from taking due credits for the achievements – inclusive of genuine efforts in the fight against insecurity in the nation and a positive change from the magnitude of insecurities we used to have in the recent past; yet the manufactured opinion of some citizens currently is that the government is doing nothing to keep them safe.
The present Administration and APC have been totally complacent as regards to communication with the citizens. The party lacks a stable system and network through which it relates its progresses, achievements and challenges to the citizens; but rather, gives rooms for the opposition to relate untruth and disinformation about the present Administration and APC, discrediting its efforts with no significant response from the latter. The party must wake up and exert itself to begin to take credits for the good works it is doing for the nation since it came to power in 2015. So, the party will need to set up a system to collate the Administration’s achievements by sectors, fact check the achievements, analyse the benefits of the achievements to Nigeria and Nigerians, and give the citizens opportunity to relate with the Administration with regards to its achievements and shortcomings in a way that represent a win-win for the Administration and APC.
Thirdly, the ruling party must recognise that if the opposition thrives on propagandas, there would not be much wrong in serving them a little dose of their own medicine, albeit with real and proven facts. There remain reasons why PDP and its anchors by now should be answering to the Nigerian people for the crimes they committed against the commonwealth of the nation while in power and as well as in the build up to the 2019 elections. A crime is a crime and the hallmark of sensible society is equality before the law; regardless of who has committed a criminal offence, the silence of the law to prosecute and bring an offender to justice is an error against the state and its people.
After the 2019 elections, Alh Atiku Abubakar and PDP openly confessed to having unauthorised access to the INEC server with evidence of data they took off the server. The crux of the issue; hacking the computer server of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), is an act of terrorism. Simple. The provisions of the Cybercrime Act 2015 recognise INEC sever as one of the Critical National Information Infrastructure (CNII). Of course, the INEC server contains sensitive information about the elections which comes within the definition of CNII and obviously, unauthorised access to the sever amounted to a crime as well as the fact that hacking or employing any person to hack into the Nigeria’s server, in this case, that of an election umpire with the intent to interfer with the electronically transmitted data to INEC Server satisfies the definition of “acts of terrorism.” For the benefit of the public, the Cybercrime (Prohibition, Prevention, etc.) Act, 2015, Part II (3) declares that “Any person, who without authorisation, intentionally accesses in whole or in part, a computer system or network for fraudulent purposes and obtain data that are vital to security, commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term of not more than 5 years or to a fine of not more than N5, 000,000.00 or to both fine and imprisonment.”
It is necessary not as a political tool but also in the interest of the country that the government commence the process of bringing the perpetrators of that self-confessed act to book. This is the right time for the All Progressives Congress (APC) Administration to commence the process of bringing PDP to book by petitioning the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) and the Department of State Service (DSS) to both look into the illegality and unauthorised access to INEC server which the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) boastfully claimed to have accessed.
In both the interim and final analysis, Edo election cannot be a defining factor for the PDP assumption of regaining popularity nor of a demeaning strength of the ruling APC; yet, the failure of the latter to address its internal structure and alter the emerging permutations could give wing to the unexpected and change the direction of Nigeria’s national politicking if not adequately addressed.
GOD BLES THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA!