WHEN some Nigerian politicians mooted the idea of forming a coalition of political parties that will wrestle power from the then behemoth, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), that had boasted that it will rule the country for 60 years but later extended it to 100 years, many political pundits dismissed it with a wave of the hand. The formation of All Progressives Congress (APC) from estranged but rebellious PDP members, ACN, CPP, ANPP and a faction of APGA was regarded by the ruling behemoth as a gathering of strange bedfellows that would fizzle out with time.
The Jonathan government did not take those behind the APC very seriously. Many in PDP and majority of Nigerians did not give the new party a chance of survival. They did not entertain the thought that APC will crush PDP in the 2015 general elections. Contrary to their belief and wish, the so-called party of strange bedfellows decimated the PDP with a landslide victory at the polls that Jonathan had no option but to concede defeat even before the final result was announced.
By conceding defeat, a feat uncommon in Nigeria’s politics, Jonathan wrote his name in gold not only in Nigeria but in Africa and the entire world. But since taking over power on May 29, 2015, the APC-led central government has been everything but cohesive. The cracks in its walls are so visible that even the blind can see them. While the party campaigned in fine poetry, it is unfortunately governing in disjointed and inelegant prose.
Its campaign of Eldorado to Nigerians was sweet melody to the ears. The party promised Nigerians heaven on earth and life more abundant and a land flowing with the proverbial milk and honey. One year down the line, Nigerians saw nothing sweet but empty and impotent promises. Instead, the APC was busy blaming the PDP for its inability to fulfill its promises to Nigerians. It spent a whole one year blaming Jonathan’s government that it took it almost eight months to form its lopsided cabinet.
The government was seen as being too slow. It fritted its one-year honeymoon in blame game and chasing of the shadows of past government. And when President Muhammadu Buhari unveiled its cabinet after wasting much time, the team was not seen by Nigerians as a good representative of the nation’s first eleven. Many Nigerians had wondered why it took the president eternity to form a team most Nigerians regarded as very ordinary. That can explain why the regime’s one year in office was seen by many Nigerians as uneventful.
Within one year, the government could not convincingly point at some of its numerous promises it fulfilled. Rather, it resorted to disowning some of them. Instead of enjoyment, Nigerians saw hardship starring them in their faces. The exchange rate skyrocketed. Inflation was high. Unemployment rate rose and job losses increased. The insurgency gained sustained momentum before it was ‘technically’ defeated, the Chibok schoolgirls were nowhere to be found except a few that the sect released momentarily.
The murderous Fulani herdsmen had a field day while armed robbery and kidnapping took the centre stage. The Niger Delta militants came with full force to avenge their maltreatment by the government. The situation was not helped by the crash in the price of crude oil, Nigeria’s main revenue earner, at international market. Suffice it to say that all was not well for Nigerians in APC one year in office. Nigerians had never witnessed such hardship before. Now that the regime will soon be two years in office, we are not yet near the Promised Land.
As its second anniversary in office gets closer, there are no signs that things will get better. Nigerians are no longer the happiest people on earth. We are now hungry and angry. That is why, at the slightest provocation, we maim and kill each other as witnessed in Hausa/Yoruba clash in Ile-Ife recently. The APC itself is drifting apart. The infighting and wrangling in the party is quite obvious. The APC broom is no longer together. It is now in tatters.
The image of the party now is truly that of an amalgam of strange bedfellows. These fellows were hurriedly put together to extract power from the unsuspecting PDP. They were unsure of winning power. Having won power based on high level propaganda, they are finding it extremely difficult to work together. Despite having majority of legislators in the Senate and the House of Representatives, the APC is finding it difficult to rule the country. The party is at war with itself.
Its budget is not easily passed. The executive and the legislature are fighting dirty over unimportant issues while governance suffers irredeemably. Senate President, Bukola Saraki’s travails is part of APC internal warfare. The non-confirmation of EFCC boss, Ibrahim Magu, the Col. Hameed Ali’s uniform drama, the stand down of 22 RECs nominees, Dino Melaye’s certificate brouhaha and alleged hounding of some senators by EFCC, are all part of the wars within APC.
The APC has been overtly criticized by Nigerians and the opposition for its dismal performance so far. Those within the APC have equally criticized the government for derailing. The First Lady, Aisha Buhari’s scathing criticism of the husband’s government is one of such internal self-censorship but it appears that the party did not listen to her. What Aisha said was not radically different from what the opposition has said about the government.
The party’s leadership crisis has manifested in so many fronts that notable people that formed and bankrolled the party into power have been sidelined, short-changed, neglected and marginalized. Some cabals have allegedly hijacked the party. That is why the content of the recent leaked memo of Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, which attracted undue attacks from some APC members, should not be dismissed outright. The El-Rufai of that memo is patriotic and not necessarily ambitious as accused.
El-Rufai was constructive in his criticism of Buhari’s administration. We say this because he is an insider. Although El-Rufai may be wrong in his handling of the recent Southern Kaduna crisis, he is right on point in his critical memo to the president. If APC wants to survive as a party, it must listen attentively to El-Rufai and act fast on the memo before it is too late. The APC must sit up now and fulfill its electoral promises.
It has almost spent two years of its mandate, it has only two years to reinvent and redeem itself. A house divided cannot stand. The contemporary Nigerian political tragedy is that APC is divided while the opposition PDP is in disarray. Let APC handle with extreme caution the ongoing executive-legislative face-off.