The present intra-party conflicts in the two dominant political parties – the All Progressives Congress(APC) and the main opposition, the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP)- though not unusual in the contestation for power, has become a constant feature in our politics.The disruptive effects have an incalculable damage to our democracy. With a ruling party that has clearly underperformed, and an opposition party that seems unable to take advantage of the collateral damage caused by the APC and the dynamics of contemporary politics, it’s not unkind to say that Nigerians are in a “one chance bus”, trapped in a hole.Therefore, for our political parties to make the needed impact on the nation’s politics, they need to operate from the standpoint of political ideologies. Unfortunately, they lack that oxygen of conviction. Deconstructing the intraparty conflicts in APC and PDP, one thing is clear : the lights have been turned on, and we can now see the shadows from the shades.The question is : Why is Nigeria jinxed with poor leaders and selfish politicians who lack ideology ? Let’s begin with APC and conclude the discourse next week, with the trouble with PDP.
It makes sense to start this discourse with the office of the president. Historians tell us that modern Presidents have the ability to command national attention. They are the only public leaders with the ability to select issues for public discussion, and at the same time establish terms of discussion. They equally respond to events of great public concern. Therefore, the importance of that office means that whatever a President says or does is considered big news.
In that regard, President Muhammadu Buhari, recently opened a conversation in the lessons in power, leadership and legacy when APC governors who paid him Sallah homage at his country home in Daura, Katsina state, last month. What happened in Daura was what historian Daniel Boorstin called a “pseudo event”. It’s using the office of the presidency to command attention and mandatory coverage. The President expressed hope that history will be kind to him and APC . The comments by the president was like begging for a place in history. He implored historians and intellectuals to be factual in keeping the records of his administration, especially in guiding the electorate to make right choices of leadership for the country. Truth is, every leader, every political party in power, is always conscious, if not apprehensive, about the judgment of history. To follow the president’s reasoning, we must understand the intensity of his concern for the verdict of history.
The desire to leave a legacy is often with every leader, every political party in power. Has the president and his party been able to accomplish what they promised Nigerians? For Nigerians, the all-important question remains: Are you better off today under the APC administration than you were six years ago? Over 11,420 Nigerians have been reported killed in six years by insurgents. Is Nigeria today progressively better or worse with APC in power ? I believe these questions weigh heavily on the president’s mind. In the end, it’s the judgement of history that every president fears the most.
Judgment of history takes a little longer time to come, but historians and intellectuals don’t take that luxury of time to pass their verdict. Right now, it’s certain they will be harsh on APC as the party it has been the ‘misfortune’ of Nigeria to have at this time in her history. Some of the questions many a president often ask include : How will I like to be remembered, as a preserver of my nation’s peace and unity? Or as the man who has enforced the law with equity and fairness to all, or as a president who presided over the division of the country? Surely, there is always a good place in history for any political party or President that wants to succeed.
Ultimately, every President is judged by the many things he and his party initiated and accomplished. These include legislations, programmes/policies that affect the lives of the peoples and the country. In that sense, a President is like a shepherd who knows what stirs the hearts of the people and make better choices that work in their overall interests. These include the economy, security, anti-corruption, the rule of law, equity and fairness. Which of these has the president and APC achieved to the admiration of the citizens.
That’s why the challenges that a country faces and the concerns of the citizens are often millstones around the president’s neck, and his party, and how he solves them, determines how, in the end, history will judge him. Again, that’s why presidents are not judged like other men. It’s because leadership makes all the difference. Excuses diminish the office of the president. In the words of American journalist Edward Murrow, “difficulty is one excuse that history never accepts”. Almost every time, when confronted with to defend its abysmal record of performance, APC slouches to playing the blame game as if it was elected to do nothing. That’s not how to govern a nation.
History will record Buhari as the President who though raised a powerful voice against poverty in the land, however, under his leadership, Nigeria became the “poverty capital of the world”. Never in my adult life have I seen a majority of a naturally endowed country groaning under such extreme poverty. Not even during the civil war did we see Nigerians rummaging through refuse bins fo food. As Daily Sun Special report of August 3, 2021 stated, hunger in the land has worsened. The Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar 111, also lamented the unprecedented food crisis in Nigeria. Today, Nigeria is ranked 2nd poorest nation in food affordability. The World Bank report on Nigeria in 2020 noted that over 25 million Nigerians went to bed on a particular day without food. Will this government listen? Very unlikely. A caring government must take the citizens along. If it must push them, it should not be too hard. Nigerians have been overstretched, their patience is growing too thin. As Senator Shehu Sani took a swipe at APC last week, it’s an irony that those who “benefited from fair elections yesterday, don’t like fair election today, they benefited from free speech, now they now stand against media freedom by banning twitter. They criticized as opposition, now in government, they don’t want to be criticized. Simply put, APC is afflicted by hubris.
Former President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan captures vividly APC deceit in his memoir, titled: “My Transition Hours”, when he said, “If you embark on digging a hole for your enemy, you better make it shallow, because you might end up in the hole yourself”. Investors have fled the country as a result of insecurity and other economic uncertainties. Alhaji Lai Mohammed, where are you? You see, hypocrites lose their footing the very moment they blame others for the standards they cannot keep. How quick this has come to haunt APC is evident for all to see.
History will also record APC as the party in power when insecurity assumed an unprecedented level that Kidnapping is now a lucrative business. The state of the economy is worse than anytime since the present democratic dispensation started . Same as unemployment, national debt, and inflation. These are not legacies any president or party wants history to be remembered for. For sure, whoever succeeds Buhari in 2023 will have a lot of mess to clean up.
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