Barring any x-factor – and there is always an x-factor in Nigerian politics – the journey to the 2015 elections has started in earnest. Aspirants have been emerging and candidates will soon emerge. The next round of elections, if it holds, will be the fourth since the military handed over power to civilians. A major difference between the next elections and the previous ones in this dispensation is the fact that, for the first time, there is a credible alternative platform to the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). That alternative platform is the All Progressives Congress (APC) which has a formidable team that can give the PDP a good fight.
Another major determinant of the next round of elections is the fact that an absolute majority of Nigerians are yearning for change – qualitative change, positive change, genuine change from the stagnant and static paralysis that is gripping the nation in all aspects and in all sectors. An analysis of the various presidential aspirants will be deferred for another day, but it is very gratifying to note that some quality people are emerging in the political arena, and this will definitely be good for the country.
One of the quality ones that offered themselves is Mallam Nasir el-Rufai. Yours sincerely has enormous respect for el-Rufai, former minister of the Federal Capital Territory. For his courage, analytical mind, intellectual ability, patriotism, experience, exposure, expertise and hard work, el-Rufai has been one of the few that I have kept praying and wishing for, to be given the opportunity to lead this country. It appears Nigeria’s loss is turning out to be Kaduna State’s gain. I wish him every success in the governorship election because I am very confident that, in less than four years, Kaduna State will be a model one under el-Rufai if his antecedents and precedence are anything to go by.
However, the APC must know that dislike for the archaic, failed policies of the PDP does not necessarily translate into automatic support for the APC or any other party for that matter. The APC must work and earn the support and affection of the people. They must cultivate and sustain a credible national platform capable of satisfying the yearnings and aspirations of the majority of the citizens, especially the voting populace. The APC must know that they are not immune to crisis unless they manage their differences and ambitions very well. They must remember that the PDP has the power of incumbency and the instrument of coercion which they are ready to deploy as can be seen in the recent withdrawal of the security details of Speaker Tambuwal because he decamped to the APC, an act that apparently earned the new inspector-general Abba immediate confirmation unlike his immediate predecessor Abubakar who had to wait for 11 months.
As for the PDP, if the recent congresses to elect delegates are anything to go by, the party is facing an unprecedented crisis where its own position is weakening; the interests of its various components are diverging; and its leadership is increasingly questioned and disregarded as can be seen from its senators’ threat to shut down government recently. The PDP appears not to be a cohesive single political body anymore. Recent events had caused the party and the government it brought forth to lose both momentum and much of its ability to set any agenda — transformation or anything else.
The PDP is behaving more like an exclusive club than a political party. It is anything but for the people. Otherwise, how can one explain the closing of space for potential aspirants and the exclusion of even the party’s incumbent governors from contesting? The absence of transparent internal democracy and free and fair democratic participation enabled its existing internal differences to come to the surface and bring about an unprecedented crisis at all levels of the party organs and most state branches capable of consuming the party.
To compound matters, President Jonathan is not exhibiting sufficient leadership necessary at this critical period in the nation’s history. The president does not even make national broadcasts for all the devastating, wanton destruction of lives and property across a large segment of the country, let alone visit and sympathize with the victims and armed forces personnel who directly bear the brunt of the insurgency and communal conflicts in some parts of the country. The president is not especially charismatic and he lacks the patriotic team spirit and required vision, as he is surrounded by mainly sycophants and nonentities who are only after what they can get and not the success of the president or the progress of the country.
The PDP’s clumsy approach to governance and the glaring ineptitude and corruption of the government the party has produced made it a very easy target to vilify and criticise. With total failure in the power sector, education sector, health sector, transport sector, energy sector, social sector, economic sector, foreign policy sector, security sector, defence sector and the exponential increase in the magnitude of corruption vertically and horizontally, Nigerians have turned against the ideological foundation of the PDP worldview. And 2015 will show exactly that.
For goodness’ sake, what will the PDP tell the people of the north-east this time round? That they couldn’t contain the insurgency for six years now such that the area is now back to the Stone Age – no economic activity, no schools, displaced persons moving all over the forests like hunters and gatherers of old? Of course, defence and security is the exclusive preserve of the federal government constitutionally and the situation is getting more hopeless by the day. What will they tell the people of the north-central or north-west where not a single industry was established or even resuscitated?
What will the PDP tell the people of the south west? That there is no single Yoruba worthy of being appointed into any position from No. 1 to 15 in the nation’s hierarchy? What will they tell the people of the south-east? That the roads are still bad and it was only six years after that they remembered to award contract for the Niger Bridge? What will they even tell the people of the south-south, as no industry or roads were established by the federal government since then?
Indeed, it is not in the gene of the PDP to succeed and satisfy the aspirations of the citizens. It reminds me of the Fulani saying that, however long a piece of wood remains in the river, it can never turn into a crocodile. However long the PDP remains in power, it is not in its DNA to develop the country.
– By Abba Mahmood