In the run up to the 2019 elections it increasingly appears as if the two main contenders the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC) are different sides of the same coin. The almost daily carpet-crossing and backstabbing is bewildering and there is really no discussion of any policy framework which the political “decampees” agree or disagree with. It appears to be all about personal interests and have nothing to do with principles or policies.
There is very little discussion as to which political party can provide the best solutions to problems of power supply, unemployment, underemployment, insecurity, low productivity, economic distress, and a lack of relevant technological skills amongst the working populace. Rather than focus on promoting their solutions to these issues, APC stalwarts appear to have adopted a campaign strategy of casting aspersions on the character of PDP presidential candidate former Vice-President Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. They claim amongst others that his wealth brings his credibility into question, as if being poor is some kind of virtue or sign of humility and compassion towards others.
Back during the 2015 Presidential campaign impartial commentators and opinion writers took serious umbrage at the campaign of calumny waged against the then APC candidate Muhammadu Buhari. PDP spokespersons pilloried his academic and military qualifications and seriously questioned his suitability for office. They were quite correctly admonished that the election was not about the character of the opposition candidate. If such campaigning was condemned in 2015, so it should be in 2019.
Consistency is one of the hallmarks of principled behaviour. Elections do not guarantee good governance because nobody can forecast how people will behave once they assume office. The only power democracy confers upon voters is the power to remove bad governments. The PDP lost the election because they were unable to defend their poor record in office. A situation in which a mere four years after their defeat an uncontrite and unreformed PDP are even being considered as an alternative to the present administration is an indictment of APC’s performance. Nigerian voters are maturing and don’t really need to be reminded that the majority of political leaders including both Atiku and Buhari have skeletons in their cupboards.
Far more relevant to 2019 are the promises APC made in the run up to the 2015 election most of which remain unfulfilled. The mantra that corruption is fighting back simply doesn’t hold water. What is expected of the ruling party is an explanation of their limitations and failures and re-affirmation of their commitment to entrenching change. Even though Nigerian political culture still isn’t fully matured, Nigerians as a people aren’t unreasonable. Vote buying and rigging aside, next year’s election will be decided on which political party has the vision, strategy and political will to galvanise the majority of Nigerians to get things done, make things happen, and give the nation hope.
One problem the APC faces is that they rode to power on the back of a change mantra, and change isn’t a stagnant process. In 2018 Nigerians are still be seeking change and methods under which the narrative of Nigeria can be changed. If they desire a different government, it is no way repugnant to a change process! The PDP are regaining support because there is no convincing evidence that either of the war on terror and corruption are being won. In an atmosphere of self-denial there appears to be a refusal to accept that there is a serious deficit within the capabilities of the military and other security apparatus.
The war against corruption although ideologically sound has been poorly executed. The focus on apprehending a few perpetrators of high profile corruption has done little to change the realities on ground. A true anti-corruption war must encompass removing the incentives to be corrupt. Regrettably, little or nothing has been done in this regard by ensuring prompt payment of salaries, pensions and benefits. The main concern of electorate is not anti-corruption but the viability of economic policies, the solution to massive unemployment, the provision of medical care, improvements in all forms of infrastructure.
Nigerians have not been told which infrastructure would be rehabilitated and how many schools, higher institutions, roads, hospitals, prisons, airports, and railway lines were expected to be constructed from the benefits of a successful war against corruption. The opposition political parties should be busy outlining how they propose to solve these pressing problems, and the ruling party should be busy proving that they are well on course to doing so.
Reducing the upcoming elections to a discussion of the relative merits and demerits of the personal characteristics of Muhammadu Buhari and Atiku Abubakar is a disservice to all Nigerians. It’s in everyone’s ultimate interest that character assassination should be firmly disregarded as a campaign strategy.