For PDP, a silver lining on the horizon
The very first title which crossed my mind when I was chewing around this piece, was to be borrowed from a recent television outing of my good friend and professional colleague, Okey Ikechukwu.
A notable scholar, journalist, public affairs analyst and good governance advocate, Ikechukwu on that occasion, undertook a dispassionate, pathologically brutal dissection of Nigeria’s contemporary sociopolitics. Among my other takeaways from the thread of his responses to questions in that appearance, was his new (to me) and most fitting labelling of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, (PDP).
Ikechukwu described the party as “an incompetent opposition.” This branding was in obvious reference to PDP’s failings, failures and foibles, in the face of minimum expectations of a party momentarily consigned to the outer perimeter fence of the seat of power. For me, nothing can be more apt.
I have myself been very concerned about developments in the administration of the PDP since its ouster from the State House, in 2015. Its response to the calamitous blundering and serial ineptitude of the successor All Progressives Congress, (APC), has, at the very best, been notably tepid, unpardonably inept and disappointingly unflattering. I was in the process of wholesale appropriation of Ikechukwu’s most fitting statement as a trigger for this treatise before my thoughts were tempered by certain recent developments on the nation’s political platform. Hopefully, these developments will engender the resuscitation of a presently limpid and potentially vanishing specie, the once vibrant PDP.
Struck as though by a tornado in the mass movement which characterised the clamour for regime change in the run-up to the 2015 elections, the PDP was virtually shattered to smithereens, thereafter. From the very peak, to the basement of the political pyramid, the PDP was substantially dislocated and decimated. At the end of that electoral cycle, the erstwhile ruling party was shrunken in the numbers and spread of its parliamentarians at all levels, as well as states under its control. This is not forgetting its exit from the nation’s exalted Number One office.
The APC ran a campaign whose core message was predicated on holistic change. Picking holes in the several slips and missteps of the previous government, the APC built virtual castles in the air for Nigerians. At least now we know. And they set timelines for the attainment of their agendas, for added effect. Insurgency, which festered in the North East of the country in the concluding years of the Goodluck Jonathan-led PDP administration, was to be spontaneously extirpated. The successor government would be led by a battle-tested general, with the resolve to extinguish the anomaly. The lingering power problem passed on from one administration to another, would be fixed within six months. Petrol queues will cease to be recurring features of street scenes in our cities.
The ogre of corruption and malfeasance in the body politic would be decisively decapitated. There was to be a radical reduction in the cost of governance, which was to be achieved in part, by the mitigation of political appointments. The nation’s economy would be boosted and diversified to ensure the sustenance of its profile as the largest economy in Africa. School children would be fed a free meal a day, just as the new dispensation would take millions of youths off the streets by providing them with sustainable employment. The dilapidated healthcare system will be resuscitated and developed to global standards, to stem medical tourism. Decrepit national infrastructure, notably roads, drains, culverts and bridges, will be completed, reconstructed or built afresh as the case may be. We can go on and on rehashing the high falutin goals of the loquacious APC.
To surmise that the ruling party has holistically fumbled in a most prodigious manner, will be most patronising. The APC has so very spectacularly disappointed Nigeria and Nigerians across departments and sectors, that its “exploits” are topic for discussion at conferences, seminars, retreats and workshops across the world. With specific regards to the much mouthed “three-point” agenda of the APC government, the party has humiliated itself with admirable flourish. Buhari had promised to defeat terrorism, fight corruption and fix the economy. This tripodal problems have rather, take the fight to Buhari.
From the initial consignment of security complexities to the North East of the country, virtually every geopolitical zone today, is traumatised by some manner of hitherto unknown and unheard security challenge. I recall one of the initial press interviews granted by my colleague, Femi Adesina, media adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari, in the initial days of the administration, concerning the security dragon. He had said, inter alia, on that occasion, that whatever Nigerians were experiencing by way of security flashpoints, were “the last kicks of a dying horse.” Seven years after Adesina’s proclamation, the dragon has metamorphosed into a subsisting Dracula. The proverbial horse has indeed rejuvenated, so much that it has left the trails of its hooves on the sands of the North West, North Central, South East and South West, among others.
Corruption has gained so much tirage under the superintendence of the APC, that the Human and Environmental Development Agenda, (HEDA) wrote Buhari in 2021, drawing attention to un-investigated corruption cases approximating N1 trillion, recorded since 2015. The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, (SERAP), last month, observed that federal ministries, departments and agencies, (MDAs,) in 2019 alone, could not account for N323.5 Billion that year alone. The United States in April 2021, described the scale of corruption in Nigeria under Buhari’s address as “massive, widespread and pervasive,” at all levels of government, including the judiciary and security services. Last May, the accountant general of the federation, (AGF), Ahmed Idris, was arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC), for frauds totalling N80 Billion. What a way to fight corruption.
The National Bureau of Statistics, (NBS), has only just released the inflation rate for May 2022, which is put at 17.71 per cent. Unemployment numbers for the first quarter of 2022 was a staggering 33 per cent. The National Youth Service Corps, (NYSC) has mobilised an average of 300,000 graduates every year, since 2017. Only an infinitesimal percentage of this number is retained by the organisations where they underwent the NYSC, or have secured engagement elsewhere. Several millions of educated, skilled, able and available young Nigerians, including holders of first class and second class upper degrees, are on the streets pounding blazing hot pavements in the quest for elusive placements. Nigeria, by the way, has also just been displaced as the continental leader in crude oil production, by Angola, deepening the freefall of the nation’s socioeconomy.
Sadly, the PDP, which is supposed to hold the APC to account every step of the way, seems to have slipped into perpetual sedate inertia. It took the APC a whole seven years, since 2015, to host a national convention, earlier this year, amidst palpable fears about the possible implosion of the party. Within the same period, the PDP held its national convention to elect the leadership of the party in 2017, followed up by a special convention to choose its presidential flagbearer in late 2018. The party also affected a democratic change of its leadership at the national convention in December 2021. The PDP equally beat the APC to the actualisation of its recent special presidential primary convention, among others.
To be continued tomorrow
Olusunle, PhD, poet, journalist, author and scholar, is a member of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, (NGE).