By Emmanuel Onwubiko
“Every man, every woman who has to take up the service of government, must ask themselves two questions: ‘Do I love my people in order to serve them better? Am I humble and do I listen to everybody, to diverse opinions in order to choose the best path. If you don’t ask those questions, your governance will not be good”.Pope Francis
In what could pass as the ‘ides of March’, (In Shakespeare’s play “Julius Ceaser”, a warning given to Ceaser about the March 15th, the day on which he was assassinated), the two giant political parties in Nigeria that have shared powers politically into virtually two unequal parts namely the All Progressives Congress (APC) with substantial control of political powers in over sixty five percent of landmass of Nigeria and the leading opposition Peoples Democratic Party which handles the other fragments of Nigeria, have launched massive political salvos on each other about which of them wins political power at the centre comes May 29th 2023 when the incumbent All Progressives Congress controlled Federal administration winds down.
These were meetings not about us but about them and therefore represents our collective ‘Ides of March ‘.
These parties met ironically on the same day being March 23rd 2022 in the Federal Capital Territory and Obingwa in Abia State of South East of Nigeria.
Whereas APC converged inside the office of the President and were hosted by President Muhammadu Buhari making use of taxpayers money, the PDP met in Abia State at the behest of the Abia State governor who as expected would have used Abia people’s funds to host his party hierarchy made up essentially of governors similar to the texture of the meeting that was held in the Presidential mansion making extensive use of the public fund to fund political meetings.
That these two sets of politicians of the two dominant but absolutely non performing parties met and got lavished dinners making use of public funds is not the essence of this piece even though it is correlated to the import of it.
The larger picture is the rationale for each of these partisan meetings which is strictly about state capture or to put it in a moderate form, winning political power and especially who wins the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
These two sets of politicians drawn from PDP and APC did not meet on how to ameliorate the high costs of living and the excruciating economic burdens being experienced by citizens but their major concern is how to win raw power by hook or crook.
Ironically, as they meet, the Chancellor of exchequer in the United Kingdom Rishi Sunak was busy in London announcing major economic relief package that the Boris Johnson’s administration has worked out to soften the high costs of living in the United Kingdom.
www.Irishtimes.com reported the event as follows: “The UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has cut fuel duty by 5p per litre and promised to take a penny off income tax by 2024 amid surging inflation and a forecast of low economic growth. But opposition parties said the measures did not go far enough as Britain’s fiscal watchdog warned that living standards would suffer their biggest fall since records began in the mid-1950s.
“The public finances have emerged from the pandemic in better shape than expected. But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will push inflation to a 40-year high of almost 9 per cent, and living standards are set for a historic fall over the next 12 months,” the Office for Budget Responsibility said.
“With inflation outpacing growth in nominal earnings and net taxes due to rise in April, real livings standards are set to fall by 2.2 per cent in 2022-23 – their largest financial year fall on record – and not recover their pre-pandemic level until 2024-25.”
This was in the United Kingdom where we see practical good governance at work and not in our home country Nigeria whereby the bulk of politicians that run government do not understand the conceptual framework of good governance and best global practices in the area of constitutionalism but are basically chasing after their pockets.
And so as reported here in Nigeria, rising from their meeting in Umuobiakwa, Obingwa, Abia State, yesterday, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governors, under the aegis of PDP Governors’ Forum, resolved to change the leadership of the country.
Describing the All Progressives Congress (APC) government as uncaring and insensitive to the plight of Nigerians, they said the ruling party has become a menace to Nigeria.
They consequently urged Nigerians to reject the APC, which they said is disorganised and as such cannot offer good governance to the people of Nigeria.
In their post-meeting communiqué read out by the Chairman and Sokoto State Governor Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal, the governors unveiled the readiness of the PDP to take over and offer qualitative leadership options to rescue the nation.
“We lament the terrible pain and hardship facing Nigerians in virtually all aspects of life was much better in 2015 under the PDP than today under the APC,” the governors said.
The forum urged all party members and party leadership to remain focused and united to win power in 2023, as well as tackle the myriads of problems facing the country.
Meanwhile, to show the party’s seriousness, from today, it will begin the process of mending the fence among members, especially on the contentious matter of zoning.
In a statement by the party’s National Organising Secretary, Umar Bature, the party will inaugurate 37 persons, who are expected to serve in the committee to determine a suitable zoning formula for the 2023 presidential election.
“The National Working Committee (NWC) of our party, pursuant to the approval of the National Executive Committee (NEC), at its 95th meeting announces the appointment of the following party members for the zoning committee,” Bature said in his statement.
Among prominent members of the party in the committee are governors Darius Ishaku of Taraba, Samuel Ortom of Benue and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, Enugu State.
Other members include Senator Mao Ohuabunwa (Abia), Boni Haruna of Adamawa, Senator Emmanuel Ibokessien of Akwa Ibom, Prof. A. B. C. Nwosu of Anambra and Senator Abdul Ahmed Ningi of Bauchi.
Others are Jonah Jang of Plateau, Ndudi Elumelu of Delta State, Attahiru Bafarawa of Sokoto and Ibrahim Dankwambo of Gombe.
The committee also has Tom Ikimi representing Edo State, Ayodele Fayose, Ekiti State; Sule Lamido, Jigawa; Ahmed Makarfi, Kaduna; Jerry Gana for Niger and Shehu Shema for Katsina.
The committee is also saddled with the responsibilities of allocating positions of Senate President, Speaker of House of Representatives and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF).
They will also work out other leadership positions in the two chambers of the National Assembly among the six geopolitical zones.
The list contained a representative of each of the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory.
On the same matter of organising fraternity as political parties, the APC also met in Abuja inside the Presidential mansion and also marshalled out their own plots on retaining Federal powers by all means.
Prior to the meetings, both the APC and PDP exchanged verbal salvos concerning some plots to undermine democracy in reaction to a politically charged alarm raised by the highly partisan Department of State Services which practically accused the plotters of seeking to unseat the APC government.
The President thereafter reacted by accusing the PDP of plotting to push the APC out of power.
As captured by news writers, ahead of the All Progressives Congress, APC, upcoming national convention, President Muhammadu Buhari, on Wednesday, met with governors of the party.
During the meeting, Buhari urged the APC leadership to refund aspirants who were dropped immediately.
He urged them not to allow the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to take over power in 2023.
The President told the party leadership to be united in appointing executives ahead of the 2023 general elections.
He spoke while reeling out 11 points during the meeting held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
His full speech goes thus: “Your Excellencies, I would like to express my gratitude to you all for the work you have done and are doing and your continued partnership and fortified alliances with the Federal Government over the years.
“When we came together to form the All Progressives Congress, nearly eight years ago our goal was National Salvation, our resolve was unshakable, our motivation was patriotic and noble.
“Consequently, by the Grace of God, we were rewarded with victory in the 2015 General Elections in a free and fair election.
“Over the last seven years, we have done our best to deliver good governance to the country. We have guaranteed national food security, we have provided modern infrastructure to kick-start economic growth and we have implemented the most comprehensive social welfare programmes in our history.
“Along the way, our party has survived shocks and attempts to derail it. Our government has also had to endure the worst economic crisis with the free fall of oil prices from an average of $100 per barrel over 15 years of PDP government to an average of $30 – $50 until the recent energy crisis.
“We need to remind ourselves of these achievements and not be diverted by petty quarrels and unseemly jockeying for positions. It will be a very sad and regrettable development if these manifest gains are frittered away as a result of internal dissent and rivalry. We must avoid narrow focus and inordinate personal ambitions at the expense of our party’s common good. We must stop frivolous and diversionary litigation when the Party’s reconciliation processes are available for settling disputes.
“We must restore sanity and purpose in the affairs of our party and lead ourselves to victory and safety.
“As I remarked when I met Your Excellencies on February 22nd, our aim must be to hand over to an APC Government at the Center and the great majority of states. We must not, by default allow the PDP to get its dirty hands on Government again and return us to the Stone Age.
“As I said at that meeting, our Party chose its leadership by consensus. I again plead that we choose our next leadership by consensus. This is consistent with the spirit of democracy, the Party’s Constitution and the Nigerian Constitution.
“I have already given my input and other recommendations on the way forward in both my 25th February 2022 meeting with the Chairman of the Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Committee and my 13th March 2022 letter to the Chairman of the APC Governors Forum.
“With the convention only two days away I implore you to come together and sort out all the remaining party positions so that within the next 24 hours we can arrive at a Unity List which we can take to the convention.
“Finally, all those who have bought forms indicating interest and have been dropped should have their money refunded without delay.”
“Nigeria needs a leader who can get things done. A leader that can represent the country anywhere and make all Nigerians proud.”
What we should be concerned about as citizens is the need to demand accountability from these political office holders of the major political parties and to task them to show Nigerians concrete, verifiable and believable evidence that they have an implementable agenda for Nigeria and the Citizens beyond their partisan pursuit of political powers in the coming elections. These parties must be put under pressure to take the agenda for Nigerians as their watchword and not mere footnotes in their prepared speeches as was seen in the speech read out by President Muhammadu Buhari, a man who as President for seven years, has consistently visited London the United Kingdom for medical tourism. So in both the APC and PDP, their dominant thematic area is what will benefit them as individuals and not what will benefit us as a collective. This is why we need to wake up as citizens and accept the fact that eternal vigilance is the cost of liberty.
Let us as citizens demand to know what solutions they have or have they offered regarding food insecurity which is worsening due to the war in Ukraine launched by Russia?
The citizens should demand to know from these two political parties to show them their contributions in the area of advancing agricultural technology? Other critical issues demanding answers are what solutions they each have on the state of insecurity, unemployment, hunger, collapse of socio economic infrastructures in the health, education and petroleum, science and technology sectors. In Nigeria of today, electricity power scarcity is a major economic crisis which the Federal government seems too overwhelmed to know how to solve it just the same way it is confused on resolving the unprecedented fuel crisis.
These are key areas these politicians should hold meetings on and thereafter showcase their distinctive economic blueprints for growth and show concrete proofs of how these have worked in these States that each of the two parties control.
These parties and the others must demonstrate that they care about us and not about their pockets. But first, the citizens must wake up from slumber and demand accountability.
*EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO is head of the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) and firstname.lastname@example.org.