Dear Mr Atiku, I am writing you this open letter…
By Arinbomen Star
In recent times, the situation in Nigeria’s political amphitheatre has been attracting so much attention both locally and internationally. Demonstrations by the two main political gladiators in the amphitheatre, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Party (APC), have elicited diverse reactions from both the spectators and the analysts alike. Unlike the gladiators in the classical amphitheatre who engage in fisticuffs with the aim of regaling their fans, clinching a trophy and having their names registered in the Hall of Fame; Nigeria’s political gladiators are engaged in political power tussle.
Having successfully wrested power from the PDP, the APC is poised to keep it for as long as possible. What is really worrisome about the tussle between the two gladiators is the crassness of their engagement. While the APC has resorted to character defamation, slander, libel and self-righteous tactics, the PDP is gallantly defending its integrity through vehement denouncement of claims by the APC.
I think the case against the PDP is glaringly obvious; and the party’s helmsmen are gradually coming to terms with their abuse of public office and betrayal of public trust when their party held sway over the country. What boggles the mind, however, is the elaborate display of immaculate political posture by the APC helmsmen, as well as their refusal to take responsibility for the state of affairs in the country. Are the helmsmen of the APC as squeaky clean as they make Nigerians believe? Are they innocent of Nigeria’s current predicaments? What is the relevance of the fuss they keep making about their integrity mantra and self-righteous stance?
Integrity, in its real essence, is adherence to sterling moral principles and demonstration of unqualified honesty in acts and in disposition. An objective assessment of an individual’s integrity, therefore, is their ability to uphold the tenets of moral uprightness, and be above board in the face of circumstances that challenge this inherent asset. The words of men of integrity are invariably in tune with their deeds. They mean what they say; and they act out the profession of their ideals. The situation is different with charlatans. They inveigle themselves into the affection of others by false pretences, and then resort to manipulative schemes in a bid to maintain the status quo. Inevitably, their claims are debunked as mere charades by the prevailing circumstances. They soon fall out of grace with the people and plunge into the abyss of ignominy.
The All Progressives Party (APC) secured the mandate to superintend Nigeria’s apex political office by virtue of their grandiose promises to Nigerians; and the professed high moral standard, as well as the immaculate political posture of their standard-bearer, Muhammadu Buhari. Three years after toppling his People’s Democratic Party (PDP) predecessor from the presidential domain, the new honcho of Nigeria’s apex political office is yet to get his act together. The Nigerian ship has been meandering under his captaincy; and all his efforts have been directed at blaming his predecessor for creating the storm that has been rocking the ship. So far, the APC-led presidency has demonstrated to Nigerians what its “change” agenda is worth. Nigerians have munched the APC pudding; and I suppose their appetites have been jaded by the stench of pudding.
Long before the APC secured the mandate to steer the affairs of Nigeria, I had been observing their political shenanigans with rapt attention. Reading between the lines, I knew the alliance of the composite factions that constitute the party, as well as the party’s media propaganda, was a ploy to present the Trojan horse to Nigerians. I went through the party’s manifesto and all I could see was hollowness sandwiched with grandiose visions. Unfortunately, Nigerians were too engrossed with the desire for a “change” to carefully consider the genuineness of the seemingly juicy offer. Alas, they were easily taken in by the decoy.
Considering the journey so far under the leadership of the APC-led presidency, it breaks my heart to see all my predictions about this political reign come true. This political dispensation has failed to lead Nigeria out of the woods. All it has offered Nigerians so far is some encouragement about the need to buoy up their hopes and keep their fingers crossed.
The incumbent Vice President of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, and a national leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, were quoted recently as saying, “We won’t stop talking about Jonathan’s corrupt government.” The incumbent President, Muhammadu Buhari, has been mouthing the same rhetoric at different forums, both within and outside the shores of Nigeria. For crying out loud! When will the APC-led government begin to focus on their agenda for Nigeria? When will they stop crying over spilt milk?
By dwelling on the shortcomings of an outgone administration and blaming their political ineptitude on those shortcomings, the APC-led government have demonstrated to Nigerians that they are utterly bereft of any vision for the country. If the PDP administration had been adjudged squeaky clean by Nigerians, there wouldn’t have been any need for a “change” in the first place. Therefore, the APC administration should spare Nigerians its banal rhetoric of how the PDP administration plundered the country’s treasury; and take responsibility for its failure.
So far, this administration has preoccupied itself with chasing a ghost while neglecting its primary responsibilities to the citizenry. No viable vistas of opportunities have been provided for Nigerians by this administration; yet the President had the presence of mind to describe “a lot Nigerian youths” as indolent and unlettered opportunists, right before the full glare of the international community. Unemployment rate in the country is still as high as ever; education has been consigned to the whims and caprices of entrepreneurs and the unconscionable administrators of our ivory towers; the health sector has been incapacitated by the perennial neglect of the government; insecurity has transmogrified into an untamed menace; and corrupt public office holders have a field day within the camp of the ruling elite. What’s more? I think it’s time this administration beat a retreat from its excursion in the realm of fantasies.
The anti-graft war of this political dispensation is another issue that has attracted a lot of attention. The original deal was a holistic clampdown on corrupt elements, who illegally appropriate our commonwealth; and then plough back the recovered plunder into the economy. However, things seem to have taken a different course. Given the way events have played out so far, it is obvious that this administration’s anti-graft war is more or less a grotesque war of attrition. The selective nature of the crusade, the associated politicizing of ensuing backlash from some quarters, and the poor accountability of the custodians of the recovered booty all lend some credence to this position.
Bringing corrupt elements whose allegiances lie outside the APC to book, while creating a safe haven for looters within the fold of the ruling elite, is tantamount to a political witch-hunt. Turning a blind eye, by the government, to allegations of corruption levelled against public office holders who are loyal to the APC brings the genuineness of the anti-graft crusade of this administration under serious question. All said, it can be inferred that this administration’s fight against corruption is, on the one hand, an attention-seeking mission designed to give a dog a bad name in order to hang him; and on the other hand, a diversionary scheme with the ulterior motive of shrouding the political ineptitude and the sharp practice of this administration in secrecy.
Shortly after President Muhammadu Buhari took over the reins of power from his predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan, he proclaimed victory over the Boko Haram terrorist group. “Boko Haram has been degraded”, the President affirmed. Perhaps out of this administration’s desperation to prove its ‘mettle’ to Nigerians, a Nigerian Air Force jet released its payload on a refugee camp in Borno State, killing scores of innocent civilians. The Nigerian Army claimed they miscalculated. Twice, incarcerated Boko Haram’s warlords were officially released to their “degraded” group in exchange for some of the abducted Chibok school girls. Then came a paradigm shift in presidential domain: “Boko Haram has been technically defeated”, the Minister of Information and Culture (Lai Mohammed) announced. Dapchi school girls’ abduction occurred recently; and the “degraded” or “technically defeated” terrorist group claimed responsibility for the act.
Just recently, the President approved the release of one billion dollars for the procurement of arms and ammunition to combat the same terrorist group that he claimed had been annihilated. My concern about this development borders on its well-thought-out timing, its proximity to the 2019 electioneering period. The dots just don’t connect; I mean, trying to reconcile the President’s long-upheld position about the Boko Haram terrorist group and his reason for approving the release of the said money. I think the APC live under the self-delusion that they are omniscient and other Nigerians are nincompoops; otherwise, they wouldn’t be overtly insulting the intelligence of Nigerians. Although the release still awaits the approval of the National Assembly, it is sure to get their consent. However, Nigerians are watching to see how this will ultimately play out.
The declaration of President Muhammadu Buhari that he would be vying for the 2019 presidential elections is another major contentious issue that has brought his professed integrity and patriotism under question. While officially notifying the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the APC about his ambition, the President said that his decision was borne out of the “clamour” by Nigerians for the continuity of his presidential reign. What a sweeping statement! On which platform was the said “clamour” expressed by Nigerians? Did Mr. President, by his use of “Nigerians”, mean his family, cronies and party loyalists? I guess too many odds are against the President’s 2019 re-election ambition. His failure to fulfill his campaign promises to Nigerians; his demonstration of lack of originality; his politicizing issues that border on the wellbeing of Nigerians; his senescent physical and psychical status; and suchlike, all underscore the need for the president to pave the way for more enterprising presidential aspirants.
The debate about the President’s earlier one-term tenure promise notwithstanding, the odds against his 2019 re-election ambition are crystal clear. Besides, he had earlier in 2015 admitted some of the odds against him. “I wish I became Head of State when I was a governor, just a few years as a young man. Now at 72, there’s a limit to what I can do”, President Muhammadu Buhari told a group of Nigerians resident in South Africa. Being a man of integrity, as the President and his sycophants have always claimed, the President should have taken all these issues into consideration before declaring his intention to seek re-election in 2019. After all, a minstrel who regales people with his artistry can perceive the melody of his music, except he is hard of hearing or bereft of the sense of aesthetics.
At this critical point in the history of Nigeria, we are almost at the crossroads of making another decision about a four-year superintendence of the affairs of our nation, and by whom. It behoves all Nigerians to take their destinies into their hands by making informed choices about the governance of our dear country. It’s time Nigerians started resisting the deceits of politicians who indulge in self-serving governance for the entire length of their reign, and return at the eleventh hour to manipulate the electorate in order to further their wrong course.
A four-year political reign is too precious to be spent on frivolities, such as political retribution, gerrymandering and playing to the gallery; all in a bid to discredit political opponents. Most times, popular choices are usually farcical choices. Let’s look out for political aspirant who though are unpopular, yet carry in them the right ideas, orientation and inclination. No longer should Nigerians mortgage their future on the altar of temporary gratification. The trend of events in Nigeria in the last three years has shown that the APC presidential reign is not better than the PDP’s. Heroes need not sing their praises; rather, their feats declare their worth. Good governance does not consist in denigrating others in order to take the shine off them. Condemning others for flaws that are also ingrained in one’s personality is sheer hypocrisy. So, let not the pot call the kettle black.
The APC helmsmen can continue their current theatrical melodrama in Nigeria’s political amphitheatre, while their political sycophants cheer them on. However, they should reckon that both a bad reign and a good one have a place in history. What makes the difference, however, is the kind of memory that each reign evokes in the psyche of posterity. Sooner or later, the boisterous storm will blow; and the rump of the chicken will be exposed. The APC political dispensation may hold sway now but it cannot continue to reign in perpetuity. Someday it’ll be toppled. Then, all its clandestine manipulative schemes, sharp practice shrouded in secrecy and edifice of deceits will become public knowledge. The chickens always come home to roost.
Arinbomen Star writes from Ibadan. He can be reached via Starins4real@yahoo.com