All around the world, political office aspirants are legitimately offered opportunities to convince the electorates about their suitability for whatever office they intend to occupy. The electorates on the other hand are expected to make choices of who among the political office-seeking persons in their constituencies to vote for based on the manifestos of such politicians as released to the public during campaigns. The politicians’ manifestos are often embedded into that of the political parties to which they belong. The political parties themselves, especially in advanced democratic societies are distinguished from each other by their ideological leanings.
To ensure decorum and respect for established democratic principles, all political activities, including campaigns by politicians in all nations are subject to the monitor, control and supervision of an electoral body which in the case of Nigeria is known as the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC. The electoral body also provides time-tables which normally stipulate the period for campaigns, registration political parties and voters, dates for election and so on.
Based on its time-table, the ban placed on presidential and National assembly campaigns were lifted by INEC on the 18th of November, 2018. As was expected, the major presidential contenders, notably Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and General Mohammadu Buhari both flagged off their campaigns on the same day.
While Atiku packaged his promises to the electorate into a document titled “My plan to make Nigeria work again”, Buhari went to town with what he called “Our March to the next level”. The proposals from the two presidential giants look fantastic on the surface. For instance, Buhari’s next level appears to be suggesting better days ahead for Nigerians even though it can also mean a further movement into darkness for those who are not impressed by the performance of the APC so far. The question on their lips is “if Buhari can rule Nigeria with so much impunities and insensitive conduct when he knows he would still need our votes for another term in office, how will his rule look like after winning the next election, knowing full well that he would never “beg” anybody for votes again in his remaining days on earth?”.
The only answer to this is UNCERTAINTY. But then, it is important to remind our president of where we were before he came to power, where we are now and the next level we expect from him or any president for that matter.
In 1983, our naira was exchanging for about N1.20 (one naira, twenty kobo) to one dollar. Buhari and his colleague then, wearing the toga of “war against indiscipline” forcefully toppled the democratically elected president of Nigeria, Alhaji Shehu Shagari. One of the reasons for the action at the time was to shore up the value of the naira against major currencies of the world. Buhari failed in this. Instead, the value of our currency dropped to about N1.50 to $1 within less than two years of the regime. Since then, the Nigerian currency has not known “peace”. Part of the reasons why Babaginda overthrew Buhari in 1985 was to save the naira from its continued loss of value.
When PDP came to power in1999, the value of the nation’s currency was about N140 (one hundred and forty naira) to a dollar. For sixteen years, the rate hovered between N140 and N180 per dollar. But in less than one year of Buhari’s rule, the exchange rate escalated to about N400 to one dollar. Today, the rate is still N364 to a dollar.
This and many more economic cruelties resulted into the folding up of many striving businesses in the country. Conglomerates like Dunlop Nigeria Plc. have since also left Nigeria.
In 2015, a bag of 50KG rice sold for about N8,500. Though the APC propaganda machinery under the headship of Alhaji Lai Mohammed has remained resolute on impressing it on Nigerians that we now have enough locally produced rice to feed Nigerians, the evidences on ground show that the rice presently sell for about N17,000 per 50Kg bag. The imported variety if found in the market still go for about N22,000 per bag. This is beyond the reach of majority of the citizens. And chances are that these prices will rise further during this year’s yuletide. SEE ALSO: CBN GOVERNOR, GODWIN EMEFIELE AND PRESIDENT BUHARI’S ECONOMIC MANAGEMENT PROWESS
During the sixteen years of PDP government (1999 – 2015), three presidents presided over the affairs of the country. They include Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Alhaji Umaru Yar’Adua, and Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. These leaders ensured as much as possible that political appointments were not lopsided in favour of one ethnic nationality, especially among members of the Security Council. Buhari has since changed this balanced pattern of office sharing among the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria. All the members of this council now except the Chief of Naval staff are Buhari’s brothers. These are the Inspector General of Police, Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Air Staff, Comptroller General of the Nigerian Customs Service, Comptroller General of the Nigerian immigration Service, Comptroller General of Nigerian Civil Defence Corps, Minister of Defence, National Security Adviser, Minister of Interior and even the Aide De Camp to the President.
Unlike in the past where law and security enforcement officers were kept out of partisan politics, all the security chiefs wore the APC tag during the take-off of Buhari’s campaign in Abuja on the 18th of November, 2018. As if this is not enough, almost all of the Service Chiefs are already retired. Yet, they still wear their uniforms as the President has used his veto power to retain them in office for reasons only known perhaps to APC.
No ruling party in Nigeria since 1979 has witnessed the kind of democratic disaster rocking the APC today. The political group lack internal democracy so much that while the party Chairman is busy threatening aggrieved members with suspension, Buhari is asking them to go to court and seek redress.
Except for few states like Delta, the legislative arms of states in Nigeria are bedeviled with crisis that if not checked can plunge the country into disorder similar to that which occoured in Western Nigeria in the 1960’s. For example, the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly has been in and out crisis since Godswill Akpabio defected to APC. This came to a climax recently when only five of Akpabio’s men in the house attempted to impeach the state governor. It took the intervention of the National Assembly for an uneasy calm to return to the state. The Anambra State house of Assembly presently has two speakers. Mr. Samuel Ortom, the governor of Benue State narrowly escaped impeachment by minority members of the State House of Assembly shortly after defecting to PDP. This is just to mention but a few of these ‘katakata’ in Nigeria.
Not too long ago, the president approved N30,000 as minimum wage for the Nigerian workers. This was after a strike action by these people. Strangely, the government has gone back to begin another round of debate about the ability of states to pay the salary. This is after the strike was called off based on government assurance of implementing the new workers’ pay. If care is not taken, another workers’ strike is bound to take place shortly. This will impact negatively on the 2019 election time-table.
Beginning with the Edo state governorship election organized by INEC in 2016, the country has not had any election judged free and fair by the international community since APC took over power from PDP. Vote buying has become the order of the day.
Having known where we were, where we are now, the onus remains on all Nigerians to let Mr. President know our desired Next Level and not necessarily his. The only way this can be done is for the electorate to do the needful with their permanent voter’s card (PVC). Otherwise, uncertainties loom in Nigeria. According to an African adage, “if a man misses the way to his destination, he cannot miss his way back to where he is coming from”.