The APC government: A mid-term assessment
The bitterly fought 2015 presidential election left many negative outcomes in its aftermath. The most glaring was a deeply divided country whose populace focussed the allegiance they hardly held to a nation they scarcely believed in its authenticity on the political parties they supported, their presidential candidates, and the candidates’ religious and other affiliations.
The next and related to this negative form of allegiance, was the division of Nigerians who engaged in public discourse into “Jonathanians” and “Buharideens,” the first being a derogatory term for fanatical supporters of former President Goodluck Jonathan who lost the election and the latter for their counterparts who rooted for President Muhammadu Buhari, the winner.
Also, to be identified with either group made you a partisan, uncompromising supporter of the related candidates’ political party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) or the All Progressives Congress (APC). And the rival side regarded you as so jaundiced in your opinion as not to be trusted to be objective in criticising its presidential candidate, his party, or praising yours or his party.
I doubt that the flagon of Nigerian public discourse has ever been laced with a more potent poison of prejudice. But there were a few who refused to drink from that deadly cup, who strove to remain objective in their contribution to national discourse.
However, even the brashness of those entrenched partisans has been tempered by the hard lessons of governance with the APC at the centre under Buhari on the one hand, and the various corruption-related revelations involving chieftains of the PDP who served under Jonathan on the other hand.
On both sides are muted “wailers” and disillusioned “hailers”, to adopt that memorable, sarcastic description of partisan critics of the APC government by Femi Adesina, President Buhari’s media aide, and the corresponding characterisation of equally partisan supporters of the APC government by no less partisan fans of the past PDP Federal Government.
Ironically, some of the manifestations under this climate of mutual antagonism between leaders, the two political parties and their supporters provide some basis for assessing the success or failure of the APC government in delivering on its major campaign promises.
Take fighting corruption, for instance. If, as we have seen with several PDP chieftains like Olisa Metuh, one is found to have stashed away funds in some bank account or private vault like the Ikoyi flat where over $43 million was reportedly discovered by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), and cannot explain the source, and ends up forfeiting it to the authorities, one, even as a “wailer”, would have to acknowledge it as a sign that the APC government is taking steps to combat corruption.
Such discoveries should be treated as the incontrovertible facts they are. And there are more of them like the hoard of cash allegedly linked to Dr. Andrew Yakubu, former Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), reportedly discovered on February 3, 2017, also by EFCC operatives, in a building in Kaduna belonging him. The amount reportedly exceeded $9,772,800. The essential fact of such discoveries should lend credence to the APC government’s claim of fighting corruption.
However, their lending that credence does not obviate the genuineness of the concerns of critics of the APC government’s anti-corruption fight for its alleged lopsidedness that makes it seem like a witch-hunt of the opposition.
They try to justify this claim by pointing out that few, if any, members of the ruling party havebeen caught in its anti-corruption dragnet compared to the opposition party, and that those members of the ruling party accused of corruption, like Rotimi Amaechi, former governor of Rivers State and now Minister of Transport, seem to have been largely ignored by the relevant authorities.
These two scenarios portray the APC government’s fight against corruption as a partial success that need to be strengthened. And this strengthening, which we hope brings better results during the remaining years of its tenure, may not only manifest as action that eliminates this impression of its lopsidedness. It may also manifest as the rigorous prosecution of those arraigned for corruption by the EFCC, so they are not perceived as having been acquitted due to the incompetence of the agency.
Also, the introduction of the whistle-blower programme by the APC government seems to have imbued its anti-corruption fight with more seriousness.The programme is meant to reward a whistle-blower with between 2.5 and five per cent of any amount of stolen funds recovered through their involvement. And the hunger it has triggered in some people to get rich at the expense of the despoilers of our public treasury is credited with some recent successes of the EFCC in tracking and uncovering stockpiles of stolen public funds.
But the programme could be crippled by fear if, in fighting back as Nuhu Ribadu the former EFCC chairman said it must, if corruption were to identify any of the whistle-blowers and move predictably against them.
And so the APC government may further strengthen its fight against corruption by improving efforts to ensure the security and anonymity of the whistle-blowers in a country where those they confide in may also be agents or beneficiaries of corruption.
And while the “hailers” would tend to ignore the murderous and widespread bloodletting around the country attributed to Fulani herdsmen under the APC government, the “wailers” would rather overlook the progress in its fight against terror as reflected in the decline of the menace of the Boko Haram insurgents. Some “wailers” would even scoff that the terror group, or a franchise of it, was set up by some vested political interests to destabilise the country in order to frustrate the re-election of the last PDP presidential candidate.
However, like the discovery of funds of inexplicable acquisition, this “conspiracy theory” does not negate the fact that the activities of the terror group have abated under the APC government, leading to an improvement in national security and giving cause to credit the government for having somewhat kept its campaign promise to improve security.
But its effort at improving security should also be seen as a partial success and one in need of improvement considering the violence unleashed on the country and its citizens by the alleged Fulani herdsmen.
The APC government also promised to solve the perennial problem of power as if with a magic wand. But we have continued to witness a dingdong struggle between improvement and decline of service in the power sector. That notwithstanding, we have reasons to be optimistic, as reflected in the attainment of our highest power generation of 5, 074.7 megawatts under the government and the commitment of its Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, to ensuring that the power distribution companies do not sustain their services as a nightmare to most Nigerians.
We should also expect this implied partial success at bettering the power situation to be improved by the APC government, which I believe would have done better in alleviating the suffering of Nigerians if it were not hamstrung by low oil revenues unlike the previous government.