Friday, March 25, 2016 11:27 am
By Bola Bolawole
Last week (18 March), we listed 11 out of 17 reasons why the opposition PDP is resurgent while the ruling APC, in contrast, appears on the retreat. This reversal of fortunes is as dramatic as it is bewildering. Less than one year in office, the APC appears to have lost its shine while the PDP that many had left for dead is finding both its feet and voice. Chants of “Sai Baba” have panned out and groans of “no money”; “never had it so bad”; “never knew it would come to this” have taken over.
To recap, we listed some of the issues to include the cut-throat competition between the legacy parties that formed the APC and Buhari’s unfortunate political statements; the perceived lop-sidedness of his appointments in favour of the North\Muslim against South\Christian and the CPC wing of the APC against the other legacy parties; the subterranean subterfuges of power-brokers and godfathers that is tearing apart a party on a rescue mission and that needs all the cohesion in the world to succeed; Buhari’s antecedents as a military autocrat and the resolve of powerful strata of the society to stand up to the early signs of dictatorial tendencies; another antecedent already working against the president is his widely-perceived Islamic fundamentalist bent and the scantily-concealed efforts to drag Nigeria into the comity of Islamic nations under one ruse or another; fighting too many battles on too many fronts at one and same time and therefore biting more than he can chew; his deafening silence on the atrocities of rampaging Fulani herdsmen, who are his kith and kin; and reneging on election promises, especially the N5000 promised the unemployed, which the president went abroad to derogatively brand a “largesse”.
We said the APC government has not demonstrated a clear direction in about one year in office but has “wobbled and fumbled” like Fanny Amun’s Eagles, such that, today, it looks as “clueless and incompetent” as the Jonathan administration it swept out of office. What with unending fuel queues and worsening power supply? Was this not why Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, cried out that the government needed outside help to rescue the economy? Whether the “in-house” economic conference the government held last week, as opposed to a pan-Nigeria summit advocated by Nigerians, meets the bill remains to be seen.
The alarming free fall of the Naira is another reason why this government is no longer in the good books of many Nigerians. As the Naira falls in value, this government also falls in value. Devaluation of the Naira, whether officially or unofficially, means rising costs of goods and services and massive reduction in the purchasing power of the Naira. Because of the parlous state of the economy, many employers are retrenching workers in droves, further making worse an already bad unemployment situation. Employers who are not retrenching are finding other ingenious or bold-faced means of cutting workers’ salaries.
Some workers have perpetually been on half salary. Foodstuffs’ prices and transportation costs have gone up astronomically; house rents, school fees etc have also taken a jump. For those who have children schooling abroad; life is a nightmare. Of course, I am sure you know that when workers have not been paid, no one would think of pensioners. The self-employed are having terrible times – no jobs, no money. Manufacturers can’t sell much of the goods produced because the purchasing power is not there on the side of the buyers. The economy, as it were, is in a tail spin. And a country is as good as its economy!
Many of the people around the president are not telling him the truth; it would appear as if the man still gallivants all over the place with the messianic candour of last year, possibly unknown to him that, in the eyes of many Nigerians, he has already been demystified. If elections are held today, I am sure Buhari will not be the hot potatoes that he was last year March\April. The perception out there also is that many of the people around the president are stingy and self-centred. Someone said it could be because of the frugal nature of Buhari himself; but care must be taken to note that politics is about generosity and not tight-fistedness. You must spread the largesse – yes, largesse. There must be largesse in civilian governments; meaningful largesse, not “chop-and-clean-mouth”. As they say, chop alone, quench alone.
The complaint is rising to a din that people in government are chopping alone while those who helped them there are suffering without a helping hand coming from anywhere. This is not a military government where you can silence everyone with guns and “koboko”. Political office-holders keep telling the people to be patient; that things will soon be alright; fine, but while we all wait – or work – for things to become alright, kindly bring out some of the largesse in your own pockets and share with the people. Political office-houses usually pretend as if they are not “eating”; but Nigerians can see through the charade.
Now to Boko Haram: Buhari keeps saying that the insurgents have been decapitated; that they have been degraded and can no longer hold territories; but they keep inflicting collateral damage on the country. They still attack towns and cities; they detonate bombs every week, killing in each attack more people than are killed abroad in one year by terrorists. While we overlook the loss of lives here, we rush to issue press statements over the trifles that occur abroad.
Colonial mentality! And misplaced priorities!! Life is life; more so, for a Nigerian government, the lives of Nigerians should have a premium higher than those of foreigners. That is the standard behaviour in international relations. Each attack by Boko Haram is a reminder that we are not yet out of the woods. Of course, I am sure you know that the Chibok girls have not been found, least of all rescued. One reason why Nigerians voted Buhari is that they thought he had the magic wand to crack the Boko Haram nut and bring back the girls. If it turns out he does not, many Nigerians shall be sorely disappointed.
Corruption and the fight against it is one issue that has, at one and same time; united as well as divided Nigerians. To be sure, everyone supports that we fight corruption; but Nigerians are sharply divided over whether Buhari is honest and sincere in the way he is fighting corruption and whether he is fair to all. The argument is that only the Jonathan PDP government is being put under the searchlight. Clear cases of corruption against pre-Jonathan leaders as well as important members of the new ruling party and government have been ignored. Discerning members of the public are not comfortable with this. Not that anyone is saying that those being pursued may not be guilty or that the guilty should not face the music; but if the crime was committed across board, then, the punishment should also go round. As of now, the punishment is not going round; hence the opaqueness surrounding the Buhari war against corruption.
Since the looting was democratised, then, the punishment should also be democratised! Only the president and vice-president were bold enough to declare their assets publicly; the other influential party men and government officials have chickened out. Cowards! More than that, this could be evidence that they have something to hide; there could be skeletons in their cupboards. When this is placed side-by-side the fact that allegations of corruption were pointedly levelled at some important members of the Buhari administration, but who have now been shielded from prosecution and have instead been rewarded with plum political offices, a big hole is thus punched into the Buhari anti-graft effort.
After 16 years in power, PDP has deep roots, massive tentacles, and branches. It has made furrows everywhere. You delude yourself to think such a behemoth can be felled with just one strike. PDP has very many experienced and tested masters of the garb. It takes more than winning just an election against such a party to permanently and irreversibly cripple it. To achieve that, APC will have to win election after election against PDP – but, I am afraid, not the way they are going at the moment.
Like the elephant, Nigerians have long memory. We have been reminded that Buhari is the master of selective punishment. His first coming as military dictator attests to that, when ousted President Shehu Shagari was placed under the comfort of house arrest but Vice President Alex Ekwueme was carted away into prison detention, among such other acts of partiality.
The above 15 reasons why PDP is resurgent are gifts from the APC. Buhari and the ruling party keep committing unforced errors, as tennis pundits would say. But the PDP has also helped itself. The party has, to the surprise of many, responded fast to its change in fortunes. Olisa Metuh, its spokesperson, must have surprised even himself the way he rose to the challenge of being the opposition spokesperson. He performed so admirably; making Lai Mohammed look ordinarily. That was before the ONSA merry-go-round knocked him off.
Since he was arrested and specially marked out for humiliating treatment, Metuh has mellowed. Thank God for nature, which abhors vacuum; Gov. Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti state has stepped in to fill the void created by Metuh’s demystification. “Fayose kan; APC\Buhari kan” as the Yoruba would say. The Ekiti enfant terrible is the proverbial “oko iya nwon” He has been extremely effective. He does not pull punches; does not know “this is not decent for me to say” He is the typical “roof-rofo” fighter. Unfortunately for Buhari\APC, they keep gifting Fayose ammunition with which he rubbishes them. Fayose has done marvellously well, even if malevolently, helping to keep Buhari\APC on their toes.
Finally, “ko ki n tan l’ara omo Oba k’o ma ku dansaki” is a Yoruba proverb that says no matter how weather-beaten royalty is; you still find evidence that here was royalty once upon a time. After 16 years in power, PDP has deep roots, massive tentacles, and branches. It has made furrows everywhere. You delude yourself to think such a behemoth can be felled with just one strike. PDP has very many experienced and tested masters of the garb. It takes more than winning just an election against such a party to permanently and irreversibly cripple it. To achieve that, APC will have to win election after election against PDP – but, I am afraid, not the way they are going at the moment.
This is the second part of the piece (http://staging.thenewsnigeria.com.ng/2016/03/17-reasons-for-pdps-resurgence-1/) we published on 18 March 2016.
Bolanle Bolawole can be reached on [email protected] and 0705 2 63 1058