[easy-social-share buttons="facebook,twitter" counters=0 style="button"]
Here we are again, at another
crossroad in the political landscape of our dear country. Starting from
Saturday, February 16, 2019, each of Nigeria’s approximately 80 million registered
voters would be expected to exercise their constitutional right to decide those
who get elected to the various offices at the various levels of government.
With the benefit of
hindsight, given that Nigeria has been democratically governed over the last nineteen
(19) years, there surely must now be vast enough experience for rational
decision-making by discerning citizens on those to be elected into offices to govern
for the next four years; from the presidential to the local government levels.
Of these nineteen odd
years of democratic governance in Nigeria, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has
had sixteen (16) straight years – from 1999 to 2015, translating to four terms
under three Presidents; including Olusegun Obasanjo (May 1999 – May 2007), late
Umaru Musa Yar’Adua (May 2007 – May 2010), and Goodluck Jonathan (May 2010 –
May 2015) Depending on an observer’s sociopolitical leaning, the party either
performed or under-performed.
On the other hand, the All
Progressives Congress (APC), formerly the main opposition party to the
then-ruling PDP, won the 2015 presidential poll on the platform of ‘Change’ and
a promise of improved livelihoods for majority of Nigeria’s approximately 190
million citizens. The APC’s candidate, currently the incumbent president, President
Muhammadu Buhari (in government from May 2015 till date). is seeking a second
term of four years ostensibly to continue his Change agenda, reform programs
for the good of the electorate and ultimately move them to the next level.
Although the elections
are for various positions at both Federal and State levels, this article will
focus on the Presidential election. Also, although there are about seventy-nine
political parties contesting the 2019 elections at various levels of
participation, this article will only focus on the two major parties on the
ballot papers; the All Progressives Congress and the People’s Democratic Party.
The two parties have
marshalled reasonably strong points as to why either of them should be voted
into power for the next four years. But, it has to be assumed that Nigerians,
hinging on the now vast democratic experience, would no longer be hoodwinked,
and each potential voter now has the unique chance to decide which of the two platforms
best represents his/her interest to deliver on the gains of democracy.
It is in respect to the
above that, perhaps, the only meaningful and logical way for any decisions to
be made with respect to the two parties; APC and PDP, would be to appraise the
performance of each in Government.
The PDP Years (1999 – 2015)
In appraising the PDP
era, and given one’s leaning, especially if it would be unfavorable, one can
begin by arguing that President Obasanjo had a unique opportunity to
institutionalize democracy in Nigeria. An opportunity that would have brought
about meaningful developmental reforms and programmes which could have ensured
sustained economic growth, but, that didn’t happen. Instead, what we saw was a
man who was only interested in idolizing and immortalizing himself. No more can
be said than the fact that he sought for a third term. Like Obasanjo, late
Yar’adua came with a lot of promise – which he did not live long enough to
deliver; but left us with the Boko Haram insurgency to contend with. However, and to be fair to Late Yar’adua,
unlike Obasanjo, he will at least be remembered as a champion of the rule of
law and a man who was committed to electoral reforms.
Late Yar’adua was then
succeeded by his Vice President; Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, whose Government was
blighted by security challenges, political patronage, cronyism, state capture
and massive corruption.
To buttress some of the
points above, two former Governors of the Central Bank of Nigeria; Charles
Soludo and Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, publicly decried the scale of corruption in
some government agencies which they observed were causing massive shortages in
Government revenues. Furthermore, a former Minister of Finance also publicly
expressed frustration on how her dogged resolve to have the excess crude
revenue saved for rainy days was ignored, obviously in a bid to sustain
political patronage and cronyism. Finally, we have literally been inundated
with cases of how billions of Dollars were siphoned by serving top government officials
serving as agents of state capture; all that unaccounted for during the
However, it must be
noted that it was during the PDP years that Nigeria overcame South Africa to
become the biggest economy in Africa; never mind it being based off of the
country only rebasing its GDP. The point being that Nigeria only changed
how it calculated the GDP to more accurately reflect current prices and market
structure, and in so doing, gave more weight to Nollywood and
mobile phone services that had grown a lot as of then. It must also be noted,
however, that experts had argued, even then, that Nigeria needs more than GDP rebasing to
stimulate the economy, and that while it was important to have up to date statistics, that
would not, of its own, lead to economic prosperity, or any change in the reality on ground.
In the area of poverty
reduction, alleviation or eradication, even though with limited or hardly any
success, the PDP cannot be accused of lack of effort. During its years, it had
the following initiatives to try and tackle the scourge; National Poverty Eradication
Program (NAPEP) and YouWin etc. The programs barely had any impact most likely
due to the lack of adequate commitment and perhaps corruption.
In the realm of
security, boko haram were hoisting their flags in Nigerian territories; indeed,
at some point they were in control of seventeen (17) Local Government Areas
(LGA) in Borno State alone. These LGAs occupied a space twice the size of the
entire geo-political zone known as South Eastern Nigeria.
In fact, boko haram was
so bold and brazen, that there were coordinated, if not concurrent attacks in
Kano, Bauchi, Gombe, Jalingo, Kaduna, Niger; and even Abuja, the Federal
Capital Territory, wasn’t spared. With bombings in Abuja of the Police Force
Headquarters, UN Building, nyanya bus stop and Emab Plaza. it was almost like
nowhere was safe.
Indeed, the statistics
on the spate of insecurity are a grim read;
- In the North Central, the Ombatse militia ran riot with a
killing spree that included that of over 100 policemen in Nasarawa State.
school boys were killed by boko haram at the Federal Government College, Buni
Yadi, Yobe State in February of 2014.
bodies were discovered dumped in the Ezu river, Amansea in Anambra state in
schoolgirls were abducted from the Chibok Girls Secondary School in Borno State
by Boko Haram terrorists. Till date, 112 of these girls are still missing, with
some presumably dead. It took the Government two weeks and public outrage to
even admit that the girls were missing.
fact, the convoy of the incumbent president was caught in a second explosion
that rocked Kaduna in July 2014.
The APC Years (2015 – Date)
administration came into power in May 2015 on a tripod of promises to
fight Corruption, curb Insecurity and improve the Economy.
Unfortunately, at the
onset of the admin, it was confronted by a myriad of near catastrophic problems
amongst which chiefly were; nearly 75% of the states could not pay salaries,
and the country slid into recession; as was foreseen by former Finance Minister,
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, during the last days of the Jonathan administration. However,
through a combination of economic prudence and effective official interventions
by the APC-led government, the country emerged from the doldrums. In
September 2015, the admin commenced disbursement of 689.5 billion Naira as
bailout to 27 states to enable them pay salaries and offset pension
To further stimulate the
economy, the Federal Government embarked on an expansionary fiscal policy
regime with investment of close to 2.7 trillion Naira in the 2016 & 2017 budgets
alone on infrastructure. A further 650 million dollars Presidential
Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF) was set up to complement the capital
expenditures of the Buhari administration with focus on funding Lagos-Ibadan
express way, 2nd Niger Bridge, Kano-Abuja road and Mambilla
These investments on
roads, power and a new national rail network are unprecedented; with an overall
focus of guaranteeing increased access to markets, reducing operating costs for
businesses, and allowing Nigeria make up for lost time; this being in
realization of the fact that the country lost a golden chance to spur economic
growth and development in the 16 years under PDP, when billions of dollars were
generated; but were then mismanaged or subjected to large-scale looting.To
further enhance productivity, and ginger economic activities at all rungs of
Nigeria’s economic ladder, the governing APC administration initiated
microfinance schemes such as; TraderMoni, Marketmoni and Anchor Borrowers
Programme (ABP), in which billions have been invested, and that have been helping
to generate appreciable income for smallholder businesses and thus make life
better for thousands of Nigerians.
The ABP was launched by President Buhari in 2015 to
create a linkage between anchor companies involved in agriculture value chain (processing,
milling, storage, distribution etc) and smallholder farmers (SHFs) of key agricultural
commodities. In December 2018, the CBN noted that as at October 2018, 862,069
farmers cultivating about 835,239 hectares, across 16 different commodities,
have so far benefited from the Anchor Borrowers programme; a development that
has generated over 2.5 million jobs across the country.
The admin has also moved to improve the Human Development
Index of the country with an unprecedented array of social intervention
programs. These include the Home Grown School Feeding Program (HGSFP), N-Power,
Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) amongst others. The net effect of these
programs are already been felt.
This been the cardinal theme of the admin’s campaign, it
moved immediately to check it with a number of measure, amongst which are:
- Expunging more than 34,000 ghost workers from
the Federal Civil Service payroll, thereby saving about N2.3 billion monthly.
- Implementing the Treasury Single Account
(TSA); and by end of March 2017, over N7 trillion was recorded in the TSA,
while as at August 2018, the TSA was saving the government N42 billion monthly;
an initiative, which has been hailed far and wide.
- A Whistleblowers policy was also unveiled by his
administration, and has led to the discovery and recovery of billions of naira
of stolen government funds in both local and foreign currencies.
- A Presidential panel was set up to probe arms
procurement between 2007 and 2015. The panel has made some shocking discoveries
that are still rocking the armed forces and the security infrastructure of the
The admin is continuing with its vigorous fight against corruption
with purpose, so much so that it can be described as retreating. Even the
Judiciary is being cleansed of corruption, with top ranking judicial officers
who were hitherto thought to be untouchable, now being investigated and
prosecuted. We have also witnessed some high profile convictions.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has
also been recording hugely significant achievements in the fight against
corruption. In February 2018, the EFCC reported recoveries of about 511.9
billion Naira in 2017. The commission reported that, between January and
December 2017, it recovered 32 billion Naira and 5 million Dollars forfeited by
the former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Dieziani Alison-Madueke. Other
forfeited monies include the N449 million discovered at a plaza in Lagos, $43
million discovered in an Ikoyi apartment in Lagos, N329 billion from petroleum
marketers in Kano, while withholding tax of over N27.7 billion was retrieved
On Security, many
Nigerians may point accusing fingers at the current administration on the
resurgence of Boko Haram attacks with casualties among the military personnel.
However, President Buhari has sought for, and allocated huge funds from the
budget to purchase military equipment so as to reinvigorate the onslaught
against the terrorists.
In this regard, it can
at least be argued that funds intended for arms purchase are not being diverted
to private pockets. The country has also regained a lot of goodwill and respect
in the international community; a situation that has meant arms procurement is
no longer through the backdoors. The import of this will assume an even bigger
significance if one recalls the botched and desperate attempt by the previous
government to purchase arms from South Africa via a plane-load of cash.
Although the Buhari admin
has been far from perfect, with insecurity challenges and industrial actions, the
federal government moved to address the farmer/herder conflict in the North
Central region, and armed banditry in North west through interventions like:
- Operation Whirl-stroke in Benue and Taraba States
- Operation Sharan Daji in the North West.
- Operation Diran Mikiya (An air force quick response unit
set up in Gusau Zamfara State which is being complemented by counter terrorism
unit and other security forces).
- An establishment of another air force quick response wing
in Nguroje, Mambilla, Taraba State
- Forward Operating Base (FOB) in Gembu, Mambilla, Taraba
These security measures
are to be complemented by the National Livestock Transformation Plan that was
recently launched by the Federal Government.
In the Niger Delta, the
Government has been in constant dialogue with stakeholders, community leaders
and the militants for a lasting solution. Leveraging on its plans and programs
in the Niger-Delta, the APC led Government has managed to maintain peace in the
region. To this end, we have been witnessing sustained peace for the longest
period in many years.
In the foreign policy realm, Nigeria under President Buhari
has recovered considerable goodwill from global partners. These are being
witnessed in the instances of the currency swap and infrastructure funding with
China; the fertilizer deal with Morocco; the trade deal with Singapore; the
bilateral agreements on return of Nigeria’s stolen assets with countries like United
Kingdom, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, and treaties which have raised the
country’s profile internationally.
Based on the afore-mentioned
records of the PDP and the APC in government, the choice for discerning voters
as they go to polls are
- an APC Government that has spent over 10 billion US Dollars
on infrastructure that cut across several sectors in four years or a PDP Government
that spent nearly 800 billion dollars with little to show for it.
- An APC Government that is committed to diversifying our
economy or one that abandoned other sectors of the economy for oil.
- An APC Government that has completed about 600 kilometers
of standard gauge rail in three years; with Lagos-Abeokuta being the latest, with
less resources available to spend or a PDP Government that had abundance of
resources at its disposal but could not put in place a single standard gauge
- A PDP Government that depleted our foreign reserve
despite selling oil at an all-time high or an APC Government that is growing
the foreign reserve steadily despite earning less.
- A PDP Government that sold off government assets such as;
NITEL, NEPA, Nigeria Airways to their cronies at giveaway prices spearheaded by
Atiku Abubakar without compensating staff or an APC Government that is clearing
this mess by upsetting the pension arrears and other entitlements of these staff
after several years.
- A PDP Government that spent sixteen billion dollars on
power with nothing to show for it under one of their three Presidents alone; an
administration where the current PDP candidate was an influential Vice
President, or an APC Government that has generated and transmitted the highest
megawatts of electricity in less than four years.
- A PDP Government that allowed our refineries to rot or an
APC Government that is working hard to have them function in full capacity
whilst making possible for Private individuals to set up theirs. The Modular
refineries in the Niger Delta will soon come on board.
- A PDP Government that had turned the country’s main
revenue generating agencies to their cash cows or an APC Government that is
ensuring prudent management of resources and accountability at these agencies. The
Nigeria Ports Authority, under Ms Hadiza Bala, for example has seen remarkable
turnaround in the way and manner the Authority is being run; It was one of the
first Government agencies to implement the TSA which complemented the revenue
and invoice management system which reduce traffic, blocked leakages and
enhanced service delivery. NNPC, Customs and FIRS are other agencies that
witnessed real change and have all broken existing records in terms of revenue
turn over to the coffers of Government.
Finally, the discerning
voters should reflect on whether they would rather weigh on the person they
hired to repair their destroyed house (who despite all the initial obstacles has
managed to structurally stabilize the house) to do better at refurbishing it or
they would rather have the person who destroyed in the first place come back
for repairs? It really does appear to be that simple.
Abdulrahman Usman Leme
Directorate of Contact