By Carl Umegboro
Africa’s most populous nation, Nigeria will next year complete uninterrupted twenty years of democratic governments. The Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) formed in 1998 by merger of numerous groups after the annulment of June 12-election by General Ibrahim Babangida’s military junta, controlled power at the center uninterruptedly for sixteen years from 1999 albeit under three respective presidents; Chief Olusegun Obasanjo – late Umaru Yar’Adua – Goodluck Jonathan. Unfortunately, the administrations had same records in common; monumental fraud, fantastically-corrupt system, administrative deficiencies and autocratic tendencies, though Yar’Adua’s administration was short-lived, thus a decisive clamour for change.
In 2014, to actualize a change of government against admitted maladroitness then, some radical forces fused which led to the ‘broom revolution’; hence, All Progressives Congress (APC) was birthed with litany of promises. And by a resilient electoral wind in 2015, Muhammadu Buhari won as APC’s first government thereby swept out PDP from power. Since then, APC navigates the nation as ruling party. Incidentally, whilst some give the government credit including international community, opposition punctures it simultaneously from all sides.
However, as Nigeria runs a quadrennial system, the present administration is winding up on May 29, 2019 either for a second term or stepping aside. The ruling party, APC, most likely with President Buhari as its flag-bearer will contend with other parties. To strengthen their capacity, PDP has rallied around other parties including Obasanjo’s ADC for a merger, hence the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) towards presenting a consensus candidate against APC.
Recently, some distressed APC members in the National Assembly, strategically, first tagged themselves as rAPC – some interpreted ‘recalcitrant-APC’, some as ‘rejected-APC’ and another set, ‘reformed-APC’. They copiously made threats of defection and finally did lately. Incidentally, whilst they issued threats, other ambitious bigwigs wished their threats come through, and energetically work towards securing their positions. Among their grievances were the president’s non-preferential treatments to lawmakers in the fight against corruption and purported abuse of laws particularly express purchase a fighter-jet to aid security in the country, among others.
Without a doubt, a good merger will boost the numerical strength of the opposition for a tough battle to unseat the present Aso Rock number-one occupant. Nonetheless, the overriding factor is the presidential candidate vis-à-vis profile and political-will that the union will produce. To oust the present government by the same groups with egotistic mindsets that drained the country for almost two decades into economic recession will not be an easy one putting into account some laudable policies President Buhari administration put in motion especially diversification of the economy and the ongoing fight against corruption.
The APC-led federal government may not have done too well in the last three years and the reasons are not far-fetched. The administration was inaugurated amidst collapsed economy; stony-broke that the previous government finally resorted to loans for workers’ salaries. The treasury was drained that appointment of ministers was halted for 6 months while completion of ongoing projects let alone awarding new contracts wasn’t practicable. Pensioners’ pays had become no-go areas and same replicated across various state governments except Lagos, Anambra and few others. Visibly, things abysmally fell apart. The World Bank icon, Ngozi Okonjo-Iwealla then as supervising minister of the economy, couldn’t hold onto it but shouted at the top of her voice on the looming dangers. Unfortunately, she was surmounted by cabals in the government.
Presently, having prudently exited the recession, 2018 budget for the first time since Buhari’s assumption of office rekindled hopes of Nigerians with myriad of capital projects spread across all the geopolitical zones in the country. Unfortunately, despite the timely presentation, precisely on November 7, 2017, it danced around and round at the National Assembly until May 27 it was passed with some questionable increments by lawmakers. Evidently, the system is adding values. For example, JAMB recently remitted N7.8billion unlike before and similar reports across other agencies. Again, most states in the federation have migrated to producers – an index of economic progression irrespective of high cost of living at the moment. By economic theory, market forces will on its own pull down the prices in no distant time by persistent productivity. Thus, all things being equal, the present administration improved the system.
Resultantly, the onerous challenge facing the merged CUPP is the leadership material that can beat Buhari’s scorecard which redeems the nation’s hitherto impaired image. The merger’s dominant party, PDP is disreputable in the minds of Nigerians over its previous monumental havocs on the economy. Another remarkable feat of Buhari’s administration is the political will to bring to an end the ‘Ghana-must-go’ money bags that hitherto characterized the legislative arm during PDP’s era.
Irrefutably, prior to this administration, no legislative duties ever took place in the National Assembly without inducements; screening of appointees, confirmation of appointments or budgets defense. It became a norm for MDAs (ministries, department and agencies). Thus, with the same dramatis personae as the coalition’s arrowheads with prejudiced tendencies, majority will reasonably zero the alliance. It goes beyond merger but the actors alongside their values. It is insufficient to merge for power but essentially, goals to accomplish and mischiefs to remedy. If not, it is to say the least, a collection of the fifth columnists.
Umegboro is a public affairs analyst and Associate of The Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (United Kingdom). 07057101974-sms only
By Carl Umegboro