For the first time in a long while, I’m actually beginning to feel that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is finally waking up to the task of governance. Until now, all it had done was play politics, as though it was still contesting an election, ahead of which it needed to thoroughly decimate the PDP and make it unelectable.
President Muhammadu Buhari and his party seemed to have forgotten that the elections had been won and lost since April last year – and that it’s now a whopping 10 months since PDP left the scene for APC. APC had simply refused to come out of its pre-election mode. I once expressed the fear, in this column, that APC and Buhari might forget that they’re the ones now in power and carry on with their criticism of government. Well, I may not have been totally correct. For it would seem that the APC has since realised it is actually in power. However, until two weeks ago, it seemed the party had yet to overcome its inclination to blame Jonathan for just everything wrong with the system. Problems – including the ones that could have been fixed almost immediately – have been allowed to fester, just to provide another reason to blame Jonathan and PDP. When there was nothing else to hang on the neck of PDP, APC then turned its arsenal against itself – destroying its own people, distracting its own government, raking up all manner of murk against its own leaders – from Kwankwaso’s Kano to Bukola Saraki’s Kwara and even the National Assembly, suspending some people and dragging others before all manner of courts and tribunals. It even branded some of its own leaders agents of PDP and soon embarked on a war of self-destruction. Of course, those at the receiving end were left with no choice but to fight back. And, as they fought back, they equally exposed other party leaders, eroded the integrity profile of the new government and equally caused further distraction. Today, every problem the PDP ever had as a ruling party (including the battle for the control of the party and the sacking and re-appointing national officers) is rearing its ugly head in the APC.
But all that seems to be finally taking the back seat. It appears APC is now closing ranks – having realised that, in the long run, nobody would go down alone. They now want to be on the same page.
Suddenly, the National Assembly is holding a business roundtable, where it has not only promised to begin debate of the much politicised Petroleum Industry Bill (the same bill the lawmakers sat on, for many years, thinking they’d be doing Diezani Allison a favour by passing it), but also co-operate with the executive arm to deliver on the party’s promises.
And it showed its intent last week, by passing the vexatious 2016 budget. Suddenly, the National Assembly remembered that budgets were sometimes withdrawn (silently) after submission. That Buhari’s government would not be the first to do it. That we do not have to hang Buhari, simply because civil servants lived up to their ‘evil servants’ moniker, by padding the budget. That we could have cleaned all the mess and brought the culprits to justice without making Buhari and his ministers look incompetent and supportive of corruption.
But then Buhari could not possibly expect a Bukola Saraki-led National Assembly to bend over backwards to cover the Presidency’s mistakes, when the same Presidency is seriously fingered in the plot to unseat the Senate President, including his travails at the Code of Conduct Tribunal. It’s almost like another case of “if you Tarka me, I Daboh you”. Mercifully, the APC seems to have finally put on its thinking cap. In the same vein, the executive arm is also sitting up. Rather than gallivanting all over the world, and talking down on us Nigerians from distant lands, it got the National Economic Council to hold a two-day retreat, to begin to address the hunger and poverty in the land. For once, Buhari, rather than his corruption sing-song, charged NEC to come up with urgent and practical solutions to the turbulent economic times the country is mired in.
PMB even made a pledge to deliver 10,000 mega watts of electricity by the end of his first tenure in 2019. Those are the things we want to hear. And, after the talk, the walk must begin in earnest.
Tinubu’s timely warning
I’m not one of those who feel Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, should be hanged for saying what he said about the ongoing fuel crisis in the country. And my reason is not just because he is only a minister of state, answerable to a senior minister, who happens to be the president. My reason is: No matter how much we hit our heads against the wall, or spit into the air and collect it with our face, Kachikwu will still not turn magician. The fuel crises we have at hand would still not abate overnight, no matter whether we decide to face the truth or continue to lie to ourselves. Buhari and Kachikwu did not create the problem. They inherited it. Even Jonathan did not create the problem. But he aggravated it, and lost a golden opportunity to fix it – preferring to paper over it instead. But that’s story for another day.
Of course, I also don’t believe that the minister was misquoted. Rather, I’m convinced those who have ulterior motives mischievously misinterpreted him. But that is no reason for Nigerians to continue to suffer, even when a blind man can see the solution staring us in the face. While our government embarks on a rather vengeful stable-cleansing.
However, I’m very happy that it took no less a person than the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Birthday Boy Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu to deliver the wake-up call. The Americans would call it ‘friendly fire’. It was the same Asiwaju, who asked us to give Buhari a little time to enjoy his ‘honeymoon’ in power. Now it would seem the honeymoon is over. But is no time for PDP goons to gloat, or for APC vultures to seek to replace the minister.
Kachikwu said the truth in a country where political correctness has since become more important than truth. It is a situation from which the APC hugely benefited, ahead of the last general elections. Now, the chickens have come home to roost and the party has suddenly found itself on the receiving end of an anomaly it helped to make a norm.
How do I mean? If the daftest person out there knows that there is no way we would not be in an energy crisis, given the state of our refineries, the price of crude oil in the global market and the precarious state of our foreign reserve, why has it become politically suicidal to tell Nigerians this simple truth?
But nobody wants to understand. Everybody is blaming Buhari and APC. That was the same way Buhari and APC encouraged us not to reason with Jonathan and PDP on subsidy removal, Sovereign Wealth Fund and even, Boko Haram.
Today, although Buhari’s popularity rating remains very high, it is doubtful that if we called a general election now, the APC would record the kind of resounding success it recorded exactly one year ago. That is how, unreasonable, and impatient, we Nigerians can be sometimes. That is what Tinubu seems to be warning his party about: Don’t take Nigerians for granted! Thankfully, nobody can accuse him of working for PDP, for nobody in the current political firmament can possibly be more APC than Tinubu.
Yes, the president is asking for patience, but that is one commodity that is currently in short supply in Nigeria today, as hunger and hardship bite harder and harder.
No doubt, corruption is at the root of everything that has gone wrong with our country so far, but we are already getting tired of this daily drama of who stole what, even as government is still playing hide-and-seek with telling us those making refunds and how much they are refunding.
It’s time to change gear, allow the anti-graft agencies and the looters have their day in court while we face governance. We are tired of hearing how Jonathan and PDP looted the country blind, even as more than 70 per cent of those demonising the PDP from their APC safe havens today were all part of the 16 years of PDP’s looting and misrule.
Of course, that does not mean we want the anti-graft war to stop. Far from it! It’s just that we must stop acting like the proverbial moron who cannot walk and chew gum at the same time.