Thursday 29 October 2015

#MustRead: When Will APC Stop Politics And Begin Governance?

All Progressives Congress
by: Uche Igwe

The excitement that accompanied the victory of the All Progressives Congress over the rival Peoples Democratic Party in the last general election is gradually fading away. It is now more than six months after that landmark victory, and very little has happened in the arena of governance. 

Rather, the ruling party is still engrossed in several forms of intra-party rancour and unending politicking. Some say that it is preparing to give Nigerians its best. But from the ministerial nominees being screened at the Senate so far, any observer will find it difficult to accept such excuses. Many of the faces on the list are people that we already knew. Some of them are quite good, but they are certainly not Nigeria’s best at this time. Not with somebody like Chief Audu Ogbeh, who was a minister more than 30 years ago making a grand return decades after.

One lesson from the ministerial list is that it does not justify the long wait that the President subjected Nigerians to. You may as well call it a bi-partisan cabinet because there are some politicians on the list who were members of the opposition PDP until recently. If that is the case, now you wonder what all that drama on the Senate floor was all about. Must the APC play politics with everything? When will it assert itself as a party in power? As a ruling party, the APC should not be taken aback at some of the noise that accompanied a “mere” screening exercise. No one was astonished at the conduct of the opposition party. It simply played its role. What the ruling party is expected to do is to rein them in, one way or the other, through requisite trade-offs and compromises to remain in control. That is pragmatic politics.

Imagine that the crisis in the Senate still remains unresolved, as the Senate President continues to face prosecution at the Code of Conduct Tribunal. I will not comment on the alleged drama that might have forced the Appeal Court to postpone its ruling indefinitely. Those who wish to tinker with the rule of law should go ahead, but they must be reminded that they are setting a precedent that will come with consequences. However, those of us who respect the rule of law, the sanctity of the constitution, and impartiality of the war against corruption, insist that the law should take its course on Senate President Bukola Saraki’s matter without interferences. However, when you now hear midway that the ruling party is offering conditions upon which the ongoing trial should be discontinued, you will only shudder in amazement and imagine momentarily if the whole anti-corruption effort is only but a ruse. For me, that is a very dangerous sign that we must try to avoid as a nation.

A major part of the mileage that the Federal Government has gathered, especially internationally, is because it has committed openly to fighting corruption. If such a commitment cannot be implemented transparently without selectivity and partiality, then we are in a long thing, as they say here. The world is watching us keenly. If you monitor the information coming out about Saraki’s trial, you cannot but get the impression that someone somewhere wants to raise the anti-corruption sledge hammer only when it is politically convenient. Such mixed signals poison any positive public perception about the party and government.

There is another development that has impacted negatively on the image of the APC. It is the hangover of the just concluded governorship primary in Bayelsa State. The exchanges between the party’s torchbearer, Chief Timipre Sylva, and the National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, leaves bad taste in the mouth of every discerning observer. After the initial attempt to conduct the primary ended in crisis, there were allegations of bribery levelled publicly against the a top party member by Sylva. There is a probability that the party might have resolved such issues internally but many supporters who heard about the allegations are not aware. For such heavy allegations, the party should have gone the extra mile to correct any possible wrong impression. One would have expected that the party should have constituted something like a fact-finding team to investigate such allegations. Anyone found guilty should have been made to face some form of punishment. If, on the contrary, the allegations are discovered to be false, the party should have also made Sylva to either issue a public apology or face some disciplinary action. That is how a party that values integrity should conduct her affairs especially when it will be facing many elections shortly.

Even as we await the final confirmation of the ministerial nominees, the policy thrust of the Muhammadu Buhari government at the centre remains vague. We need at least a road map across all sectors. October is ending already. Let us say that the ministerial nominees are all cleared by the end of the month and assigned portfolios early in November, it means that it will take about a month for them to settle in. For a party that is new in government, one may not expect any tangible activity until next year. If this is the pace of development that we expect from this government, then there is every reason to get worried.

Those who voted the APC into power are waiting almost endlessly for the dividends of democracy. The citizens want clean water, affordable health care, regular power supply, security of our neighbourhood, a competitive and predictable exchange rate regime, policy consistency and others. We need an enabling environment where small and medium scale industries thrive better in a diversified economy where undue reliance on crude oil will reduce. We do not want excuses anymore. It is time to consider developing along our regional comparative advantages. The APC must stop playing politics with everything and brace itself to the challenges of governing the country and bring about the change it promised the people. We do not need a Federal Government of unending nepotism nor do we need governors who will abandon their home states to spend most of their time in Abuja jostling for unnecessary relevance and thirsting for unconstitutional powers. The APC must not allow its striving for perfection become the enemy of their good.

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