3 Days To Go: Nigerians Knock APC On Campaign Promises
With a few days to the end of the eight-year tenure of the APC-led administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, feelings have been expressed over key promises upon which Nigerians voted for him. There are also questions as to the desirability of the continuation of the APC at the national level and whether the incoming administration of Bola Ahmed Tinubu will make any difference.
Buhari defeated a sitting President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, during the March 2015, presidential poll after securing 15,424,921 votes against Jonathan’s 12,853,62, as announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Riding on the crest of the “change” mantra, Buhari and his APC had in the build-up to the poll unveiled their plans for the country and Nigerians as encapsulated in the party’s manifesto.
Nigerian voters threw their weight behind the candidature of the Daura-born military general- turned politician and that of his running mate, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, and ushered them into office.
In February 2019, Buhari was re-elected after defeating a former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the presidential poll; having garnered 15,191,847 votes against Atiku’s 11,262,978.
After completing eight years in power, Nigerians again voted for the presidential candidate of the ruling APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu during the February 25, presidential election. According to results declared by INEC, Tinubu defeated 17 other candidates who took part in the election with a total of 8,794,726 votes.
His closest challenger, Atiku of the PDP polled a total of 6,984,520 votes; Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP) came third with 6,101,533 votes and Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso of the NNPP came fourth with 1,496,687 votes.
Both Atiku and Obi are in court challenging the declaration of Tinubu as the winner of the presidential election.
But while the APC is rolling out what it considers as its achievements in the past eight years, analysts and some Nigerians are divided over the extent of implementation of the key promises made by the outgoing administration.
In the APC blueprint tagged: “Our Vision for a New Nigeria”, promises to cut across many spheres of national life are enunciated. But not a few analysts are of the view that although some progress has been recorded, no significant change has been achieved even as the administration makes its exit on May 29.
The party had attributed the abysmal performance of the previous PDP administration to a lack of a manifesto to guide and give direction to the government. APC then said: “When this democratic dispensation commenced in 1999, the federal government that emerged did not tell Nigerians what its vision was for the country because the party that formed the government had none.
“And without a vision, that party at the centre led Nigeria from one crisis to another, lurching deeper into political anarchy, economic decline, and social disillusionment, a decade and a half later, nothing has changed.
“That ruling party (referring to the PDP) had neither concrete plans for the security and advancement of Nigerians, nor the wherewithal to do so even if it had one. Suffice it to say that it thrived on the maxim: ‘Promise nothing, do nothing”.
In trying to convince Nigerians of its resolve to make a difference, APC said: “In the past, political manifestos in Nigeria were hardly different from mere platitudes and general statements to which parties could not be held accountable. The APC manifesto is different.
“We have clearly stated what we will deliver to Nigerians when elected into office. Our focus is on six priority areas: national security, good governance, human capital development, economic development, land and natural resources, and foreign policy.”
But while some believe Buhari has not lived up to expectations in the last eight years considering the lofty promises made by the APC-led administration, those in support of the ruling party say they have achieved a lot considering the rot they found on the ground when they took over.
The question, therefore, is, why did Nigerians give the APC another mandate if indeed they failed to keep to their campaign promises in the past eight years?
Why APC got re-elected
Dada Ayokha, a resident of Edo State, said performance and fulfilling campaign promises were not the yardstick for voting for the APC during the February 25, elections.
He said despite Buhari and the APC performing below expectation, he was able to produce a successor in the person of Tinubu because the party yielded to the clamour for a power shift.
He noted that one of the factors that favoured the APC in the election was zoning the ticket to the South and the South West in particular, adding that the majority of the Yoruba ethnic group overlooked the sin of the APC and voted for their kinsman.
He further said that many other Southerners, including PDP members, abandoned their party to vote for the APC so that rotation between the North and South was maintained.
He added that “People were looking up to the PDP, but in the end, they failed the people by still giving their ticket to the North. That was the game changer for the APC, and many people voted for the APC.”
He also noted that aside from zoning, the power of money which came in the form of vote buying, coupled with the power of incumbency, also gave the APC victory.
On her part, Julian Ibrahim said she voted for the APC because of the zoning of the ticket to the Southern part of the country.
She said, “The APC failed in their campaign promises, but a Northerner ruled for eight years, and instead of the PDP the people were expecting to give the ticket to a Southerner, the party gave its presidential ticket to another Northerner. With this, most people felt it was better to vote for the APC in order not to have another Northerner.”
She further said that giving the presidential ticket to a Southern candidate attracted a soft spot for the APC because some people believed that the Labour Party (LP) might not have much impact in the election.
A public affairs analyst, Comrade Achike Chude, described the eight-year administration of Buhari as a colossal failure.
He said the president failed in all indices of government and his promises to the people, noting that Nigeria had never had it so bad.
He pointed to insecurity, the economy, corruption, and the power supply, saying the president had failed.
Chude, who is the Deputy Chairman of the Joint Action Front (JAF), a Civil Society Organisation (CSO), said, “I will rate him (Buhari) as having failed in large parts in any of his promises to Nigeria.
“President Buhari came to power promising to heal the economy, to deal with the issue of insecurity and corruption. These are the three planks on which his presidency stood.
“The only way to know whether he has performed is just to supply the data and the statistics with the economy; inflation has gone to double digits; for the first time, it hit the 20-point mark, which is about 22 percent.
“The hunger and poverty in the land is unprecedented, Nigerians are in multi-denominational poverty. Unemployment is unprecedented, over 33 percent or so. Youth unemployment is about 50 percent.
“On the exchange rate, he met it at about N185 to a dollar, but today it is about N740 to 760 to a dollar. The price for petrol, they gave us reasons, that they will have money to do other things, to create a more wholesome economy for Nigerians; that did not work; it was increased by over 60 percent. We have not seen reasons for that increase.
“Then the poverty in the land, the rise of basic commodities – foodstuff – and things are very difficult for Nigerians; that is at the economic front.
“Insecurity; the Council of State just gave us a breakdown of the number of people that have died under his watch, far more than under Jonathan.”
On the contrary, a former House of Representatives member, Dr. Wunmi Bewaji, gave the outgoing president a pass mark.
He said Buhari had done tremendously well in the area of infrastructure, pointing at the Second Niger Bridge, railway modernisation across the country, and road construction.
Bewaji, who is the Executive Secretary of the Coalition of Democrats for Electoral Reform (CODER), said, “When it comes to very important issues like infrastructure, security, and economy, Buhari has done very well. The only area where Buhari has failed is the inability to engage with the citizens. At least leadership, especially power, is about dialogue, it is about compromise.
“Buhari has invested so much in the armed forces, but what remains is to see the result. To win a war, weapons can help you, but to win peace, weapons can never help you; that is where your quality as a statesman to dialogue, make compromises and not rely on brute force is tested; that is where I think Buhari has failed.”
A resident of Lagos, Alasan Muhammed, who sells fruits in Ojodu, said the president failed in the area of insecurity.
Muhammed, who hails from Gombe State, said many Northerners migrated to Lagos because of insecurity in the land.
He said, “Again, things are too expensive. You want to eat now; you need enough money to eat satisfactorily. But we thank God the government is leaving. I wish the president well.”
For Dr. Bem Ugoh, a lecturer with the Joseph Sarwuaan Tarka University Makurdi (JOSTUM), the APC’s campaign promises were partially fulfilled because most of their proffered solutions further contradicted the existing situation.
Ugoh contended that the APC government paid lip service to promoting infrastructural growth of Nigerian universities without deepening staff welfare as a complementary factor, even as in the area of economic diversification of the agricultural sector, available opportunities were channeled to selective states for crop production.
The don, who is the President of the Dreams and Vision Resource Centre in Makurdi, however, said there was a heavy impact on the transformation from oil to non-oil sector to stimulate domestic production to halt regular import and create forex, an effort, he noted, was affected by overwhelming insurgencies in most agricultural states.
He further said: “Tinubu’s renewed hope carries a great promise if he chooses a radical departure from the usual routine of nepotism and party patronage. He should look beyond primordial sentiments in choosing broad teamwork that shares his vision and with passion for patriotic service. Governance is his familiar terrain, with a trademark for engaging resourceful political personnel. This is the way forward for a new Nigeria.”