A social critic, Peter Kolade, reflects on the general elections and adduces reasons for the quest for change at the centre.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has said that it is the biggest political party in Africa and that it will rule Nigeria for 50 years. Other leaders boasted 100 years. Why not? From the first general election in this democratic dispensation in 1999 to the last one in 2011, PDP won all the presidential elections, won most governorship seats, has been controlling the two arms of the National Assembly and has held sway in many House of Assembly than any other political party. However, the on-going climate of change has begun to alter the political landscape. So those statistics may be rooted on shaky grounds now.
The ruling party owes itsawesome strength to its dominance of the political arena while fragments of the opposition were speaking in discordant notes. The All People’sParty, APP that fielded Buhari in the 2003 presidential election, the All Nigeria People’s Party, ANPP that chose him as its presidential candidate in the 2007 election and the Congress for Progressives Change, CPC that made him its presidential flag bearer in 2011 were all parties that did not control enough spread to pose serious challenge to PDP. And so Olusegun Obasanjo, UmaruYar’Adua and now Goodluck Jonathan just left Buhari in the lurch and won the presidential races in quick succession. Even the Alliance for Democracy, AD, later known as ACN and the rest could only scratch the surface and left PDP in virtual absolute control of machinery of Federal government and many state governments.
So, under such circumstances, why should anyone except PDP to be modest when its handlers were engaged in perpetual dance at the seats of political power in Nigeria. As someone crudely puts it “If na you nko?” meaning if you had found yourself in such a position, what would you have done?
The problem with that kind of overconfidence is that the PDP became complacent. Its slogan, PDP! POWER!! became so resonant that nobody knew if the other parties had a slogan to match that one. It is even worse that while the likes of Obasanjowho was brisk but sometimes brash and Umaru Musa Yar’Adua who appeared to be trustworthy and even declared his assets publicly, created a semblance of governance, Goodluck Jonathan fell in love with the paraphernalia of the office of President. He has been evasive while his wife Dame Patience was vocal and quite visible sometimes to the extent of being the alternate president of Nigeria but for the constitution that did not really assign her any role in government. For the duo, power has been ‘sweet’ and they have spent the last six years or so just enjoying it.
There has been public outrage about pandemic corruption in government with culprits of corruption walking around with so much air of freedom. Monumental contracts were awarded for infrastructural development all over the country. Only the President can tell the nation how often he visited the sites of those projects and whether or not he is satisfied with the progress of work. Certainly official briefs prepared for him on the contracts would always belly the facts while his ministers would like to tell him what he wants to hear.
Like Babatunde Fashola, the governor of Lagos State recently asked: “Where are the 25,000 kilometres of roads that President Goodluck Jonathan said that his government had constructed across the country?”Honestly, if such achievement has been recorded, it is doubtful if the major highways in the country would still have ordinary potholes.
Impunity reigned and the confidence of the people in their government waned The many attrocities of PDP’s domination of governance in Nigeria will fill volumes of books.
However, there came a time when many of the opposition parties decided to fuse under a single banner. Incidentally BamangaTukur was the Chairman of PDP at that time. He dismissed the fusion of ANPP, CPC, APGA, ACN and others as “ordinary gang up that won’t affect the electoral fortunes of PDP.” Many political soothsayers, fortune tellers, practising marabouts and analysts of Nigeria’s political scene found a common tent to gather and dismiss the All Progressives Alliance, APC as a none starter. It was jocularity predicted that the alliance would crumble as early as it was formed.
For nearly two years, a group that called itself Transformation Agent of Nigeria reeled out scripts dressed with audio visuals and told Nigerians that Goodluck Jonathan was transforming Nigeria. While the propaganda went on in a frenzy APC spent time consolidating itself. As the saying goes, nobody can delay the sunset. So time was ticking away until the 2015 general election stared everyone in the face.
All the predictions about the disintegration of the opposition have not come to pass. The achievements that Jonathan said he had recorded cannot justify the amount of resources that had been ‘poured’ on them. Many projects have not left the drawing board; yet a good number have been abandoned and what is more the ones going on are at best work in slow progress. No wonder the glib presentations that the President gives to explain his non-really-enviable scorecards whenever he engages the media!
The other day, a group of people was watching the news on one of the TV channels and the President came on air to say that the nation was winning the war against terror. The chorus that greeted his remarks was: “We have heard that before.”
It is the lacklustre image of the President and his inability to deliver on the promises he made to the electorate in 2011 that have become his nemesis. That is what has also tossed up APC as a viable alternative now and General MuhammaduBuhari, the man with the pedigree that can turn the nation back from the cliff hanger which is where the country is now. In addition, PDP is going into this election as a weakened imperial army.A good number of its ‘generals’ are now in APC and there are others who are still in the party but working against the party. Add that to a despondent electorate and you will know why the clamour for change is being echoed everywhere now.
It is hoped that PDP that is ill-prepared for defeat will allow the will of the people to determine the outcome of the election and the party should take solace in the fact that 16 years in power is a period long in enough for one party to reign supreme. If change is inevitable now, so be it. Parties come, parties go, Nigeria should remain intact. That will lend credence to our democracy!